This week I published “The Customer Conversation: What’s Changed, What Hasn’t” on the Oracle Customer Experience blog. I open the post by mentioning a framed letter in my home office – a century-old piece of correspondence on Standard Oil letterhead that I bought as a gift for my husband due to his fascination with all things Rockefeller and old Cleveland.
The letter so charmed me that it got me thinking about the thousands of pieces of correspondence we send and receive in any given week. Just saying “thanks” via text or email – something we do, ironically, pretty thoughtlessly nowadays – would have been a much more formal endeavor until relatively recently: putting a sheet of paper in the typewriter, pecking out the message, finding an envelope, getting a stamp, going to the post office or mail room. Nevertheless, people did this countless times, mostly because it was just what you did; but also because communicating with customers and partners means something.
There’s an old adage about people loving the sound of their own name, and I’ll conveniently extend this metaphor to say that people love being acknowledged, whether it’s to say thank you or to let them know they’re being heard or to confirm the receipt of goods or information. If you ever tried to communicate with an online vendor in the early days of e-commerce, you know that you might as well have thrown your email down a well (if such a thing were even possible, emails being somewhat less than three-dimensional), such was the efficacy of sending things to “email@example.com.”
Things are different now because we have technology to help us get those emails to the right person, or, better yet, to codify information in such a way that you never even have to send the email. Instead, you’ll find the answer yourself and be that much more satisfied with the vendor or service provider. In that scenario, perhaps I’ll someday add a framed email to my office wall.