By Kevin Lund and Eileen Sutton published August 31, 2010

Branded Words: How Do You Talk to Customers “After the Sale”?

When someone decides to become a customer, it’s your handshake moment to welcome them aboard. They’re filling out your online forms. Getting your emails. Reading your welcome packet. Who are you? What’s your tone? How do you talk to them in this moment? Does your brand voice sound like a real person making contact, or is the voice cold and artificial?

Recently, we worked with a global bank we’ll call Gigantor. The bank wanted to reinvent itself. They wanted “big” to feel “small.” Because banking is now mobile, Gigantor was passionate about making customers feel welcome, about making the global “conversation” more real. Here’s what came out of it.

Be human

Following new brand guidelines, Gigantor chose to “speak human.” They wanted all their customers—in the privacy of their home or office—to feel like they were walking into a branch, being greeted by someone friendly.

For example, on Gigantor’s secure client site, the tone is warm and engaging, no longer “big bank.” They also treat customers as Internet-savvy. Copy is not overwritten and patronizing. It gets to the point, like a conversation between real people.

Be clear

The bank wanted customers to know they were “in the right place.” Whether reviewing PIN instructions or getting payment alerts, customers needed to be clear about what they were reading and what it was for.

Clarity breeds comfort. Across every delivery channel, the bank is now devoted to plain English. The dreaded jargon and techno-speak are gone.

For instance, a phrase like:

“Select/deselect your personal checking account”
becomes
“Choose your account.”

“Here you can specify in detail what you want or expect to do when your certificate of deposit comes to maturity”
becomes
“Let us know what you’d like to do when your CD matures.”

Be trusted

To engender loyalty and trust, the bank decided to focus on the needs of the customer, instead of the bank. After-the-sale copy would serve, not sell. Customers would be “spoken to” in a different voice, a voice somewhat unorthodox for a bank.

The brand’s service copy is now instructional and helpful, not weighted to marketing and promotion (which comes into play elsewhere). Across the board, Gigantor’s service copy addresses a single task or challenge. Nothing more. No one’s being sold life insurance at a funeral.

Smart branding doesn’t stop at “point of sale” because your customers need to feel valued across the relationship. In fact, the most important branding work you do may involve paying attention to the little moments, the least-sexy touch points—forms, emails, help text, error messages. Give those moments, those branded words, time and care.

Do you know other companies who are thoughtful and strategic about their after-the-sale copy?

Author: Kevin Lund and Eileen Sutton

A content strategist and publisher, Kevin Lund is a principal with T3 Custom. A story architect and content writer, Eileen Sutton is the principal of Sutton Creative. Together, Kevin and Eileen help leading financial firms develop smart, user-friendly content so their customers think more kindly about gigantic financial brands.

Other posts by Kevin Lund and Eileen Sutton

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