All right, I’m taking a poll here. You receive a newsletter in the mail from someone with whom you do business. Which of these opening paragraphs makes you want to read the rest of the newsletter?
We are constantly striving to improve our service to our customers and our referral partners. This is a tough industry and it is hard to define good customer service when providing an extremely regulated, highly technical and complicated service.
Recently, some of us were lucky enough to be sent on an award trip to the Four Seasons in Palm Beach by our parent company. One of my coworkers was teasing one of the pool folks that it was their job to deliver the sun–moments before a sudden shower drove her back to her room. Fifteen minutes later there was a knock at her door and she was presented with oranges sliced into sun shapes and lemon cookies with a note that said, “I told you, you could count on me to deliver the sun” signed, Chris, assistant pool and beach manager.
I’ll bet I know which one you chose.
Choice #2 wins hands down, right? But why?
- It grabs your attention. “Palm Beach! Why doesn’t my company send me on trips like that?”
- It tells a story. There’s a calm starting situation, a challenge (“deliver the sun”), a setback (the rain shower), and a triumph.
- It takes the point about good customer service that Choice #1 buries in bureaucratic prose and brings it front and center.
So why do so many of us go with Choice #1? Look at your own newsletter, or appeal letter, or even the last email you wrote. Be honest. Are you bringing them oranges and lemon cookies sliced into sun shapes, or are you making them trudge through a long stretch of shifting sand before getting to the point?
Someone once said that the key to writing a good book is to write what comes to mind and then throw away the first two pages. When you are writing for your organization, consider throwing away the first two paragraphs.
Do whatever it takes to bring them the sun.