As a customer, I don't just use social media, post, email or a website. I use a bit of everything. I buy something online, I get an email to confirm it and I might get a follow-up text message and something through the letterbox. So during my interaction with that particular business, I'm exposed to plenty of touchpoints - it's vital they all work together.
I was involved in the first product the AA had launched in years, Car Genie. It was a new, innovative, smart way of driving - connecting your car's onboard diagnostics to your smartphone. This was a great opportunity to overhaul the end-to-end comms of a customer's lifecycle.
I decided, as it's a new product and people may be pain aware, it was essential the web page was an educational piece, telling people exactly what it is and alleviating any anxieties people may have about a company collecting personal driving data. This meant the web page could sit separately from everything else.
Then I spoke to the product owner and he asked me to review the shop/buying journey and automated emails it generated at each stage. This ensures consistency and that tone of voice ran through everything.
It also sense-checked the buying journey. We discovered that people weren't being told essential information about delivery. And that the returns policy wasn't clear.
There was a brand new, standalone app with the product. The copy that featured on the packaging and online needed to reflect what was on the app itself, and vice versa. So it was imperative it was consistent with itself, as well as the whole estate.
This wasn't just to join everything up, but also to improve the customer journey, so the way functionality is referred to doesn't differ from channel to channel.
I reviewed the packaging; you can see the nuanced before and after. I was mainly engaged because I was copied into an email where I vehemently vetoed the use of formal, corporate language in the FAQs. I clearly scared the product owner, who asked about the packaging, as he was blindly briefing in the printers. I kid you not.
And this is where a new way of cross-channel working started, with me at the helm offering ideas and, writing and approving copy.
During the nursery period, people are paying a lot more attention than when they're at the end of their lifecycle. However, in a company that has a siloed way of working, with digital in one corner, CRM marketing, social, contact centres, etc. in other corners with brand at arm's length. The best way to knock these siloes down is to get up in their grill.
I'm serious. Go and speak to each of these areas, find out how they work, their timelines and pain-points. Then get them all in a room and thrash it out with a copywriter and content consultant (in this case, me) to work through it all.
Start by mapping out all the possible touchpoints and where they lead. Find out what happens then and what happens when things go wrong - they inevitably do, so identify the error messages, have you foreseen the possible errors and what's the next best action.
Lay out all the current comms in lifecycle order and bring along some good ones you've seen to compare. We used John Lewis (always comes up), Amazon, M&S and Apple. We constantly referred to our gold-star examples as we thrashed out what should be said at each point.
As the nature of working in a corporate, you run out of time and doing anything by committee ends up being counterproductive. So I went away and conceptualised what this journey should be and what it should say.
During this exercise, I found that we should live by the rule of one (one reader, one offer, one idea) in each email. So, the journey I designed was:
- Day 1 - buyer has high awareness, but may need reassurance to reduce purchase anxiety. THe emails should give lots of useful info, as this will be the email they'll keep for reference with content like policy number, what's been bought, renewal dates, payment method, Ts&Cs and what happens next.
- Day 7 - add value by surprising and delighting customers about the plethora of member discounts they're entitled to.
- Day 10 - tell them about the benefits of the app and how it'll make their lives easier by finding the nearest/cheapest petrol station, parking and report a breakdown. Warming them up for the cross- and up-sell
- Day 28 - make them feel buying through us was the right thing by pointing them towards car management and maintenance tools.
- Day 45 - serve up lots of seasonal travel content.
There was a big TV campaign to launch the product and there's was lots of activity of social to back this up. Using everything we worked on, the social media team asked me to review the tweets and Facebook updates written. As the objective and audience were different, this needed a different TOV and creative thinking.
Customer service script
Then there's the beast of customer service. They're a dispirited bunch, they get shouted at all day and worked hard to meet targets. My advice is to talk to them, find out people are asking and the language they're using. Listen in on calls and see how they work and interact with customers.
Don't whatever you do, take away their agency. It sounds false to have a heavily scripted dialogue. With just a few pointers that mirror the language used in other channels to avoid confusion, you're away.
In fact, this a fab resource for informing your editorial decisions on language. And any questions that arise could help craft your content marketing strategy, so you can plug any gaps that might help reduce needless calls and aid decision-making.
Basically, if you want to merge the channels, organise a workshop asking them to bring examples of what customers are seeing now, map it all out, discuss the best approach and let a copywriter work their magic. As Dr Phil says, it's all about communication and respect.