Keeping Relationships Personal When CRM Makes Depersonalization Easy

Depersonalized Customer RelationshipsWhen it comes to customer relationships, just because many of us work for companies that have state of the art CRM systems and related technologies, we shouldn’t rely on technology to do all the relationship work for us.

Allow me to contrast two mailed customer communications I recently received.

Personal Personal Communication

Yes, I did mean to type “personal” twice.

This communication came from a company called Strings By Mail. I had ordered some new strings for our son’s upright bass.

The shipper wrote a note on the packing list. He started with a personal “Hello.” From there, I’m pretty sure it reads “Thanks for your order.” It appears to be signed by Steve or Stu. But I don’t really care what it reads. I care about the fact that someone took the time to handwrite a note.

Strings By Mail Shipper Note

Also enclosed was a note with a handwritten signature from company president John Wunsch. (As I write this, I realize that the “Hello” part is also from the shipper, but no matter. John still took the time to mass hand sign the cards.)

Note From President of Strings by Mail

In an Amazonian world, the personalized handwriting stood out.

The next time I need strings, Strings by Mail will be the online vendor that will float to top of mind.

On the other side of the coin…

Impersonal Personal Communication

My birthday is coming up. Today, I received a birthday card from our insurance agent. Last year, she took over from our long time agent, who retired.

The address and return address on the envelope were in a blue script font. The envelope had a gold crown sticker seal. The mailer was presumably fashioned in an attempt to fool me into believing that our agent took the time to personally address and seal the envelope.

Inside was a birthday card with a “personal” note and the agent’s “signature” in the same blue script font.

Our agent actually has no idea that my birthday is coming up. In fact, we have not heard from our agent since the week she inherited us.

Now, I know that the insurance business is competitive and that insurance companies need to save where they can.

But, my guess is that selling musical instrument strings online is not like shooting fish in a barrel. Yet, somehow, the shipper and the president each found the time to sign or to scribble a personal personal note.

What’s My Point?

Just because we have the technology, let’s not rely on CRM for all facets of our customer relationships.

Ancillary motivation for writing this post came from an excellent recent episode of The Marketing Book podcast, which is an interview with John Ruhlin, who promotes better customer gifting.

John has many great points. One of them is “don’t send your customers logo wear.” Guilty as charged, but now I tonally get it, John.