I think I preferred cold callers

November 24, 2014 § 4 Comments

Cold callers drive me mad but at least I understand why they’re doing what they’re doing. No, I haven’t been involved in a road traffic accident in the last couple of years, whatever your records tell you. No I haven’t been mis-sold PPI – and I have checked before you ask. But I ‘get it.’  I’m not sure of the odds but one in every ‘blah’ number of calls is a winner and the cold caller can take you onto the next stage. There wouldn’t be a business in it if the numbers didn’t stack up. IMG_0801 There’s also a bit of payback for us. If we’re really angry about getting these cold calls we can vent our spleen at the cold caller and demand that our details are removed from records because we’ve signed up to the Telephone Preference Service and nothing of this sort should be happening. And, frankly, we will feel a lot better for getting that off our chests. (Personally, I always like to see/hear how they’re going to manage with my surname because Lefebve is rarely pronounced properly and few cold callers have developed a knack of dealing with surnames they can’t pronounce. I give good listening time to those that have!) But companies have found other ways of contacting us with offers now and they leave no ranting room whatsoever. I absolutely can’t see how these routes can be effective although someone, I expect, is about to prove me wrong. This morning I answered the phone to what initially seemed to be a dead line but just before I hung up it turned into a recorded message about boilers. I can’t tell you much more than that because then I did hang up. Even if you needed a boiler – which I don’t – how are you going to be persuaded by a dull recorded message which answers no questions and doesn’t tailor information to you. Then there are the text messages that companies presumably believe will motivate us into taking up their offer of….whatever it is they’re offering. I’ve always seen text messages as a very passive means of a communication: if my kids really need me they’ll call; if they’re just touching base, they’ll text. So I don’t see text messages as vibrant marketing. The icing on the alternative-to-cold-calling-cake happened just now though when I answered the phone and a voice, very brightly, said ‘Goodbye!’ That’s an automated system gone bonkers.

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I can’t buy from you if you can’t spell!

November 13, 2014 § Leave a comment

That may sound a bit (outrageously even) harsh but I’ve just had an email that’s prompted this outpouring. I haven’t even checked the supplier’s work – it may be fabulous and well-priced. But since they couldn’t manage to spell their introductory email to me properly, I’m not going to be able to find respect for them.

‘Words’ is an area I understand so I can spot their mistakes but they’re offering a data provision service that is much more difficult to check and I would only buy from a supplier who had earned my respect. They managed to trash that in their first sentence.

I know people think I bang on about stuff that isn’t critical in the ‘real world’ of commerce (where do they think I live, by the way…) but how you say what you say speaks volumes about you.

grammarecard

I don’t confine my rants to grammar – but that message is spot-on

So let’s clear up some myths:

  • If you’re in sales/ recruitment/ finance/data provision…should you also be expected to produce word-perfect marketing copy or client communication?
  • Answer: Absolutely yes, if you want to be seen as a professional and top of your game. Children can be forgiven spelling mistakes, you can’t.
  • What if the error has no direct bearing on your offer? Say, the price and other info are essentially right but spelt wrong.
  • Answer: Would you visit a client if you were looking scruffy? Obviously not so don’t send them sloppy communication that suggests you overlook detail.

And the persistent offenders:

  • There (place); they’re (they are); their (belonging to them);
  • It’s (it is); its (belonging to it);
  • You’re (you are); your (belonging to you);

Apostrophes have nothing to do with plurals, for example:

  • More than one RT are RTs (not RT’s)
  • If there are four Emmas in a class, that’s how you write it;
  • The 20s, 30s, 40s etc. simply take an ‘s’ and don’t also need an apostrophe;

The tone of your communication is also really important because if people find it easy to read they are much more likely to do so. If it’s full of jargon and goes over their heads they’re unlikely to invest much time trying to work out what you’re saying. Often you’re too ‘close’ to your company to read what you write objectively and you need feedback from people outside of the business before you sign off any written word about it.

And – probably this sounds politically incorrect but it’s worth saying – if you outsource any part of your work to overseas companies or any of your staff have English as a second language, make sure you have a good look at the language they’re using when they’re writing to your customers. Non-native speakers have turns of phrases that don’t really work. As customers, we worry that you’re looking after the detail.

To some extent, corporate literature and websites can be the easier pieces of communication to get right because you’ll invest time and, almost certainly, money in getting them together. Watch out for the emails that are fired out from your company or the text messages that staff are sending to customers.

Next time I receive a ‘Hope your ok’ message I’m going to name and shame!

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