Good Communication Is Critical
It may seem pretty basic but if you are going to work in the communication business, you need to work at this thing called communication. It seems like I need to work at it every day--even when I don't want to work at it.
This past week, I received a strongly written email. Someone had purchased one of my Ebook products and here's part of what they wrote, "Well, I have contacted you by email several times now, and I have received no response. All I could download for $39.00 was the title page. Only one page which gave me only your name and that of another. I have asked you in repeated emails to communicate with me about the status of my order, which I asked you to send by email or hard copy to my physical address. I am not able to download it on the Internet with any of the links you provided, even though you state you want to give me the best service on the net. Is this a scam or do you think I am trying to scam you?...I do not want to think you are intentionally scamming me, but what other conclusion can I reach unless you communicate with me about what I can expect from you."
I was upset about the threatening tone of this email because it was the first time I had heard about his problem (even though he claimed to have sent several emails--according to him each email increased the confrontative tone and now I saw the final straw as my first email). The experience reminded me again that you can never count on email alone for communication--if you are going to have good communications. I wanted to resolve his issue--but I could not if I didn't know about it.
For the rare times that a customer has trouble downloading a product, I send the file to the person using a different method, then the person confirms they have received the Ebook and I've resolved the situation.
For some reason, this situation didn't seem like it was going to be so simple to resolve--and it wasn't. I telephoned the customer to see if it was resolved. He explained that he had not checked his email yet later that day, he called to report that he was still not able to download the Ebook. Why?
Here's where it is critical to have good communication. Through some questions and probing, I learned this person was on a dial-up modem. No wonder he couldn't download the Ebook because he's part of a rapidly shrinking part of the Internet world. He asked me to print out the ebook and mail it to him.
As I thought about this customer's experience on a dial-up, I printed the ebook. Then I considered the bonus items for the Ebook. These items were also downloadable files--and anyone on a dial-up would also experience trouble getting these files.
I decided to send more than the printed book in the mail. I copied the Ebook and the audio files on a CD which I tucked into the package along with my cover letter. In addition, I emailed the customer about what I had put together and asked him to watch for the package.
I could have refunded his money, shrugged it and forgotten the situation. Instead, I chose to find out the real issue and furnish him with the product that he wanted--even if it was not the normal way to deliver it. Good communication and even good customer service is worth the extra effort.
Here's the "rest of the story." The Ebook that I'm talking about was Writing For The Christian Market. Recently I was talking with someone about a Christian publishing company and the way they treated their customers. The person I was talking with was not a Christian but he complained, "This company talks all over their site about God and uses that reason why people should use their company. Because they are Christians, I hold them to a higher standard of excellence." While I didn't turn the discussion into one about faith and standards, I agreed with the person.
What are you doing to foster or hinder good communication in your writing life? That connection is critical in many different areas of life and it was a good reminder for me.