Customer Service

Speak your customer’s language to get loyalty

By Mark Lusky | June 2, 2014

Much has been written about connecting with romantic partners by learning to speak their love language. For some, that love language is about service. Others crave verbal accolades. Still others seek visual affirmations.

It’s very similar with customer relationships. Understanding preferences for mode, tone and content of communications can turn a frown upside down in no time flat.

For example, where feasible, reach out to customers using their favorite form(s) of transmission, versus making them fit into yours. When dealing with a millennial, addressing concerns and requests via text may prove far more responsive than voice. If the matter requires discussion beyond perfunctory text exchanges, then at least use texting to frame the discussion and set up a mutually agreeable time to talk.

Baby boomers, on the other hand, are far more likely to pick up a phone to discuss customer service issues. Offering live customer support, versus making them fill out an email request, can lead to better outcomes.

Speaking the customer’s language extends all along the customer interaction continuum, including labels on products. While labels generally aren’t associated with customer service, they can heavily influence consumer satisfaction or lead to major frustration.
It’s a form of customer service that exists largely under the radar, but it can impact sales and subsequent satisfaction.

Let’s look once again at millennials versus baby boomers. Most millennials are joined at the hip with their smartphones, communicating, commiserating, and making consumer decisions on those devices. For them, a QR code on the label leading to additional information that they can scan quickly may be the ticket to satisfaction—both around product FAQs and to resolve issues they’re experiencing.

Baby boomers may just want type big enough to read. With increasing volumes of information being jam-packed onto labels, it’s not uncommon to see four-and six-point type. Even with reading glasses, that may not cut it—creating frustration and in some cases a search for a legible label among competitors. (As a baby boomer passionate about reading labels to know what’s in the products I purchase, I can tell you firsthand that I’ve made buying decisions based on ability to read the type. If it’s too small to read reliably, I move on to other products.)

So, before creating a label design, think about the audience(s) being targeted, and what their preferences may be. If the target market includes a wide range of ages, demographics and psychographics, attempt to create a one-size-fits-all label that gives everybody something to like.

Here are a few tips that product manufacturers can use to help achieve label customer service objectives:

1. Design the label, as much as possible, to meet preferences common to most target audiences. In many cases, this can mean considering function first, form (design, colors, etc.) second. For example, easily readable type will appeal to boomers without alienating millennials. When in doubt about such issues as color scheme and boldness of design, consult with a knowledgeable designer who can navigate through the maze of possibilities. While there are often distinct differences between boomers and millennials about colors and “wow” factors on labels, there also will be common ground. A designer can help the manufacturer find it.

2. Ask for consumer feedback on the label itself, deploying a QR code if possible to enable on-the-spot comments. Unlikely to spend time complaining to a manufacturer about their labels after leaving the store, consumers may readily scan a QR code that leads to a feedback/comments page.

3. Consider use of green substrates and inks. Conserving resources and the environment is now being championed by a substantial share of the population. Finding green-friendly label materials and inks (and promoting them on the label itself or in other promotional materials) carries relatively little risk of offending. Increasingly, it can tilt the buying decision in favor of the company that goes green.

4. Make the label impervious to the elements. Consumers tend to “mark down” products whose labels degrade when exposed to water, oils or other environmental issues. For many, there is a strong correlation between product quality and branding durability. When label inks fade or run, it can lead to questioning quality of the contents as well.

As with so many issues tied to customer service, it’s often the less obvious links in the chain that can impact perception and loyalty. Manufacturers would be well-advised to consider labeling strategies as part of this equation.

Tammie MacLachlan contributed to this report.

Mark Lusky is a marketing communications professional who has worked with Lightning Labels since 2008. Tammie MacLachlan is the customer service manager of Lightning Labels, an all-digital custom label printer in Denver, CO, USA. She has been in the printing industry for 21 years and with Lightning Labels for more than nine years. Find Lightning Labels on Facebook for special offers and label printing news.
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