Taking flight.

As a direct marketing copywriter I sometimes have to write ‘awkward’ letters or emails on behalf of my clients – you know the ones, apologies for data cock-ups, responses to complaints, notifications of price increases etc. I agonise over the exact words and tone for these epistles, aware that the recipients don’t want to be talked down to, want to feel valued and are often looking for an expression of contrition.

So it makes me really angry when I’m on the receiving end of a communication that doesn’t have the same level of care applied to it – as was the case recently with an email I received from an airline’s Customer Help department. It was in response to me questioning how it was that a regional traveller (me) who flew upwards of 50 times every year and spent in excess of $10K doing it couldn’t maintain a Gold status on their airline travel alone. Why, I asked, should I not be able to earn sufficient status points on flights when flying is their core business? Why should I have to resort to earning extra points off my mortgage or credit cards to reach the threshold they require?

What I got in response was an email that cut and pasted current earn rates from their website and finished by suggesting I might like to purchase a lounge membership as mine expired the following month.

No empathy for my predicament.
No sense of me being a valued customer.
No ‘offer’ to placate me.

I was, and still am, in equal measures furious and disappointed. And it has reiterated to me just how badly these ‘awkward’ dialogues with customers can go if they’re not handled with the utmost care. Take the time to get them right, to choose the right words, to hit the right tone and, where appropriate, to work out the right type of compensation.

Otherwise, like me, your customers will take flight to a competitor.

Drew is justONE’s Creative Director & Head of Copy