In the last couple of weeks I have purchased several major items and services. I consider myself to be a pretty savvy purchaser but I fell foul of inaccurate information given to me by some of the people I bought items from. That got me thinking about customer satisfaction, repeat business, word-of-mouth praise or criticism, complaints-handling and a whole host of other issues that can result from inaccurate representations.
Count the cost
There are several costs that can be involved in relaying inaccurate information to a client or customer. Here’s a list I’ve come up with but there could well be more:
- You could lose the sale
- You could have your business “bad-mouthed” by the customer and this could be in person and on the internet. Who knows how influential they are and how wide their circle is?
- You could make the sale and then have a dissatisfied customer which could then cost you time and possibly money in complaints-handling, a law suit, a consumer affairs formal investigation as well as being “bad-mouthed” (see No: 2)
- You could lose future sales from your client because they no longer trust you.
- You could lose referral business.
It seems to me that moral questions aside (and personally I think these are the most important) it is a very risky and potentially expensive business to give inaccurate information to your clients.
How to overcome this
Whenever we write something we need to ensure that our descriptions of our products and services are accurate, clear and not open to interpretation. Hiring a professional copywriter can assist you here. However that’s not the only way. If you can’t afford a copywriter then you really need to get several people of differing backgrounds to read your sales pitch and see if they understand what you intended to convey.
In addition to this you need to ensure that your sales staff have all the information at their fingertips. They should be trained NOT TO GUESS. If a customer asks a question they are not sure of then the response should be “I’m not sure but I’ll find out for you”. If you bring in new products, warranties or whatever then you need to train your staff and give them the material they need to answer all questions honestly and accurately.
Most of us are doing the best we can
Most business owners and sales people are honest. We do the best we can. But it seems to me we need to ensure that our clients thoroughly understand what we are going to do for them before we do it. Misunderstandings happen in all human relationships and small ones can be apologised for, made up for in some way and generally smoothed over but serious ones can ruin your business.
Turning a complaint into a triumph
It is possible to turn a complaint into a triumph by the way you handle the complaint. I’ll be blogging about this soon….
..or to put it another way, you’ll get as good as you give. When it comes to hiring a copywriter – or any other professional for that matter – a good brief is vital. Here are some things you should take into account when building a brief for a copywriter.
Building a better copywriting brief
Copywriters aren’t clairvoyants. They may get a sense of what you want when they speak to you but their interpretation of your needs may not be accurate. That’s why you need a good brief. It’s also why your copywriting will only be as good as the brief. So what makes a good brief? There are several things that you should include:
- Market research – if you’ve got it. The copywriter needs to know for whom she, or he, is writing. What are the demographics of your target audience?
- What are the features and benefits of your products or services? (For more on this see my free article From feature to benefit)
- What is your unique selling point (also known as a USP)? In other words why should people buy your product rather than someone else’s?
- What is the tone of the communication you are planning? Professional, funky, techy etc.
- Do you want it written from scratch or do you have a draft you want the copywriter to work from?
- Do you already have a design in mind? If so what are the word and layout limitations the copywriter must work to?
- Are there any existing promotional materials that the copywriter should see? This is particularly important if you want the new work to fit in with previous material.
This list isn’t exhaustive and every project is different but it should give you a feel for what you need to get started with your copywriter.
Well, not lunch exactly, but free copywriting? Definitely! For those of you who haven’t got the funds for a professional copywriter there is a new site where you can get generic, free copywriting for your business.
So why am I spruiking it?
The copywriting market is huge! There is room in it for all levels of professionalism and price. One of my aims in this blog is to help people who are starting off in business and who can’t afford a copywriter. [When their businesses are doing well, hopefully they’ll remember their friends! :o)]
Where to get free copywriting
Professional copywriters – myself included – have donated their work for use free of charge. You can find this goldmine at www.freecopywriting.com. The site is new and over the next few months the contributing copywriters will add more and more copy, making this one helluva a resource. So check it out!
As I said, I’m no economist so there may be a very good reason why this wouldn’t work but I have a suggestion to make to Prime Minister Rudd and Treasurer Swan…
Why not cut petrol excise/tax instead of giving income tax cuts?
Everyone keeps saying how income tax cuts are inflationary; they also tell us that inflation is being fuelled (forgive the pun) by petrol prices which result in increased food prices, increased travel costs etc., etc. So why not cut the taxes on petrol instead of on income? That will make everyone’s money go further without resulting in higher prices which will push up inflation. And if inflation is held in check then interest rates won’t need to be increased.
Is there a good reason why this wouldn’t work?
I’m really interested to know if there is a reason this can’t be done or if someone thinks there is a reason why it wouldn’t work. I maybe naive but I can’t think of one