27 May

Creative Meets Clarity

I’ve talked about the need for any representation of your business to be easy to understand. Clear and concise. While this may seem obvious, it’s obvious by what I’ve noticed around me, that it’s not. That said, I want to move onto another equally important issue…design.

While what you are putting out may be appealing, is it clearly understood by your target audience? I have found several instances where the design was unique and eye-catching, but the message was unclear and the intended target audience didn’t seem appropriate either.

There’s certainly value in creativity. I absolutely love anything that gets my attention and makes me want to know more, but not at the cost of clarity.

Every business is different and likewise, so is every message. As you work to create a look that communicates your brand, you must see the process as a complete package. You need the structure (which might comes from a plan, with goals and objectives aimed at your specific target audience), the message (that will likely involve some call to action), and it should all be “wrapped” with visual elements that blend with the message and the goals of the brand. of course, there’s research that goes into all of this that should also be part of the design and word-smithing process.

I guess my reason for posting on this is simply to remind you to be thorough, well-researched and careful not to overlook basics. Oftentimes, I seems that businesses can get caught up in the specific elements and forget about the big picture.

19 May

Are my customer service expectations too high?

20110519-091817.jpgWhile I don’t travel a tremendous amount, I travel enough that I’m a fairly savvy traveler but not nearly as much as my husband who I’m pretty sure has earned million mile+ status on American.

Stuck in Chicago O’Hare for a 3+ hour layover, I remembered that hubby has an Admiral’s Club membership so I decided to make my way over to enjoy more comfortable digs.

Of course I had no idea of his membership number, but since the lobby was empty I was glad to receive the help in locating account information. The lady helping me was pleasant. Then the travelers started trickling in. There were two attendants at the desk. The lady helping me began to get noticeably frustrated as she couldn’t locate my info and the line was growing.

It’s awkward being in that situation. You feel a little uncomfortable causing the line to form. It makes you feel like you don’t belong there even though you might.

A good customer service representative will prevent these feelings of discomfort from happening, not make you feel more uneasy.

I wasn’t sure if I was on the account (turns out I’m not) but I thought I had every right to find out before either paying for a day pass or adding my name to the account. I had no way of knowing that it would be a time-consuming challenge to retrieve my information.

But the woman started sighing and rolling her eyes. She was visibly annoyed that I was asking her to get this information. Before locating it, she suggested I just buy a $50 day pass. The line was growing…

I felt like everyone in line was looking at me, wondering why I was holding them up!

Finally, she located my info and as I mentioned I’m not on the account. That’s fine, I’m ok with that. I didn’t want to add myself (for an extra $325) without talking to hubby and I was so annoyed by the situation that I didn’t really want to pay the $50. So I didn’t. I felt like I left, walking past the enormous line with my tail between my legs.

What did I expect? I guess I expect not to feel uncomfortable in a customer service transaction. There are plenty of things she could have done to prevent me from feeling this way. Not huffing, puffing and rolling her eyes at me or commenting on how large the line is getting is the first thing that comes to mind.

While I didn’t expect to waltz in there because my husband has so many miles with American or because he is a paying member, I didn’t expect to feel like my inquiry was causing an inconvenience.

I think this woman should look at her job a little closer… It’s to make people feel valued, not like a the police trying to prevent people from trying to sneak into some posh club!


12 May

Choose your words wisely

I didn’t realize how much time had passed since my last post! Ruby has been incredibly busy, so my time for blog posts was non-existent. Thanks to your emails, I’m re-focusing on the blog and providing you with helpful content.

Speaking of content, I was reading a brochure at a doctor’s office yesterday that prompted me to write this post. The office seems very well run, the overall feel is favorable, yet their materials were awful. Not only visually, as they were designed completely out of sync with the feel of the office. The office feels calm and relaxing, the materials could have been designed for a nightclub. Dark colors and few if any photos, a complete disconnect.

Add to that, the writing quality in the piece was not bad in the sense of poor grammar or riddled with errors, but rather not the right writing style for the intended reader. I find that this is a very common error for businesses. I’m not sure if the problem stems from business owners who micro-manage the process of creating materials and try to control the content the way they see fit or simply that some content is difficult to write in an easy-to-understand manner.

When a business is a bit more technical than the customer’s knowledge, it’s imperative to write copy that explains complicated terms and details in a way that people understand.

A rule of thumb I suggest is write your copy, then ask a few people to review it and provide feedback on:
– grammar
– clarity
– flow
– take-away message

Ask a combination of people to read this. Someone that’s familiar with your business (an employee) and someone who is not. You’ll be amazed hoe valuable this feedback will be for creating a more effective end product.

Happy writing!

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