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December 11, 2013

In Corporate Communication, How Much is Too Much?

By Karen Veazey, TMCnet Contributing Writer

Two companies I’ve called this week have offered call back service through their toll-free customer service center. They tell me how long my estimated wait time is and offer to call me back when I reach the front of the queue. It’s simple, efficient, and I love it. Most importantly to the company it keeps me off of Twitter (News - Alert) posting updates about my wait time.

Rarely are customers calling a customer service number to tell you they’re thrilled with your company, so reducing the time spent on hold puts you a step ahead in mitigating customer dissatisfaction. Hold times are actually the number two reason people hate calling service numbers, with phone tree menus leading the list and having to repeat information coming in a close third. (Personally, I’d throw dealing with bored, curt customer service agents into the number one slot.) Recognizing the negative impression left when consumers only contact you with problems, some companies are starting to be proactive, reaching out to establish proactive engagement with their consumer base. It’s a principle that’s long been a pillar of the non-profit community – loyalty follows relationships – so you don’t just talk to your donor base when you need their money. 

Zendesk has just partnered with SurveyMonkey and MailChimp to try and help companies create ongoing dialogue with customers through proactive, interactive communication tools. “Did you know that customers who reach out to your support team are usually just a small percentage of your entire customer base? And when they do reach out, 95 percent of those customers have an average of only one ticket in your Zendesk? ” says one Zendesk blogger. “That’s a pretty sad relationship. One ticket—one conversation—with a fraction of your customers.”

Companies using the service can send surveys to new or old customers asking about initial purchases or ongoing product performance. They can segment their customer base to provide sneak peeks to their most loyal fans, or remind customers when it’s time to purchase a renewable product like skin care. Some websites, particularly discount aggregators like are already operating on this basis by requiring a login, giving them the ability to communicate with you whenever they feel like it.

Which raises the question Zendesk hasn’t answered yet – will customers be annoyed by these communications? It takes a very targeted and controlled strategy to keep your customers informed without inundating them; just think of how many marketing emails you send to the trash unopened. That’s where surveys can come in handy since people really do want two way conversations, not just information. Yet as more and more companies adopt strategies like the one Zendesk is promoting will it just lead to customer burnout?  Most of us already think our email inbox is an albatross around our neck, how much priority will we place on corporate communications, even when it is asking our opinion? Especially since Gmail's new segmented inbox make it easier than ever to click on the “promotions” tab and “delete all.”

SurveyMonkey and MailChimp both provide comprehensive feedback so companies can see read rates, click rates, and even how many emails were deleted without being opened. We should know pretty quickly if this will herald a lasting trend in business communications or if it will become too much of a good thing. 

Edited by Ryan Sartor
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