In this era of robust internet infrastructure and social distancing, business has moved online across most industries — and it’s likely to stay there permanently. As a result, in-person interaction has lost most of its significance: if you’re providing a digital service, you’ll never actually meet your customers (at most, you might walk by them in stores without knowing).
For some, this makes business communication rather tricky, yet it’s vital to get it right. This is particularly true when people rely on your service on a daily basis and rightfully expect proactive support — not just when things go wrong (we’ve touched upon this before), but also when there’s good news to be shared. It’s all part of modern brand management, and a weakened brand can undermine a strong service all too easily.
In this post, we’re going to set out some key suggestions for conveying good news to your customers, proving that you care about how you’re perceived and helping to alleviate any concerns they might have. After all, radio silence won’t give the impression that everything is in top condition: it’s more likely to lead customers to suspect that you’re covering up a problem. Anyway, that’s enough preamble. Let’s get started!
It’s easy for service customers to develop a strong dislike of the word “maintenance” because it so often shows up attached to planned downtime. They can end up thinking that it’s some kind of cover for a scrambling effort to keep the service afloat — a convenient excuse to disguise a fundamental problem. “The service will be unavailable until tomorrow due to… maintenance.”
For a service provider, this can be very frustrating: maintenance isn’t generally interesting, and it certainly isn’t fun. It’s simply a necessity. The unglamorous behind-the-scenes work that allows everything to run smoothly — and that’s how you should present it. Everything you do to keep your service going warrants a mention (a detailed list will also showcase your expertise).
Note that Hund can automatically notify service users of upcoming maintenance (and detail its exact timing), saving you a lot of effort — and you can ensure optimal framing by customizing the messages. It’s particularly key to make it clear that most of your maintenance work doesn’t require downtime. This will wear down the disdain for the word and help people to understand that you only take the service down when it’s absolutely necessary.
Sometimes sharing good news can literally involve sharing good news in general: stories about your industry, for instance, or just comments on global developments. It isn’t mission-critical for a service provider to also be a competent content producer, but creating content is valuable for a wide variety of purposes: it can bolster your SEO, help you reach new people, and give you some fresh ways in which you can add value to your service.
Guides and tutorials are perfect for this. Your service should be maximally intuitive, of course, but there will always be things that some customers don’t quite understand (or notice), and passing along some guidance confers two benefits: it lessens the stress placed on your customer support team, and it raises the perceived value of your service.
What if you want to share some good news about your business in general? Maybe you’ve hit a milestone of serving a certain number of customers simultaneously, or you’ve been nominated for some kind of industry award. Perhaps you’ve massively exceeded your uptime commitment for the last year. If that’s the case, it can be a good idea to proceed. When they read about your successes, your customers will feel validated in having chosen you.
That said, you must be careful that you don’t come across as bragging. Appearing narcissistic and overly self-congratulatory will significantly sully your brand image and make your customers less inclined to root for you. There are so many product and service options these days that any one of your customers could at least find a vaguely comparable service elsewhere — and if you make your brand seem essentially unlikeable, you might see a damaging exodus from your subscriber base.
Lastly (but no less vitally), it’s obviously important to notify customers about upcoming updates, but how should you outline them? The wrong approach is to breeze through the technical elements as though you’re in a hurry to finish. If you treat your updates as nothing special — just things to be acknowledged as a matter of fact — then so will your customers.
The right approach is to imagine that you’re trying to win new customers with each update, clearly stating what the end-user benefits are, the reasoning behind the changes and additions, and — where useful — how your newly-refreshed service compares to the competition. If you’re taking a big step ahead of your rivals, don’t be reluctant to talk about it.
Hund’s Issue system neatly happens to support this kind of announcement through the creation of “Informational” issues, so distribution isn’t a problem. The wording warrants more thought than you’d put into technical notices, though. Draft and redraft until you’re happy with how your updates come across: you wouldn’t rush out an update, so don’t rush out the notice.
In essence, you’re treating each customer (however loyal) as someone who means enough to your business that you’ll fight to impress them. As a useful byproduct, someone who paused or cancelled their subscription but forgot to unsubscribe from your email newsletter might end up noticing an interesting update and choosing to return to your service.
It matters enormously how you keep your customers apprised of your failings, and how you do what you can to make up for them — but you also need to put effort into getting maximum value from everything positive you have to communicate. This will strengthen your brand and earn you some much-needed slack when things go wrong.
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