• By David Atkinson
  • 3rd March 2015

Is your offline process undermining your online excellence?

How financial services and utility companies ruin everything with their letters.

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You’ve got a shiny new website with a carefully engineered user journey. You’ve spent months negotiating with four different teams about application process. You’ve won your case and made it clear, simple, and intuitive – and you can’t wait to see the results.

Let me stop for just a moment. I’m talking about users who sign up for a long term contract or service – like a financial services product or a utility. If you work in either of these industries keep reading. If you don’t, reading is recommended, but optional.

The user journey goes beyond the ‘buy’ button

So, your new website and application process is working: more people are using it to sign up. What happens next? If you’re part of the digital team it’s probably job done. You would rarely examine the user journey to a point beyond them clicking on the ‘buy’ button.

But that’s not journey’s end for the user. They probably get a letter, and maybe a form to sign. Maybe some terms and conditions to ‘keep in a safe place for future reference’, and a polite request to return something, ‘in the stamped addressed envelope provided’.

Your offline process is still impenetrable

I’m not going to name names, but we have one financial services client who, a few years ago, invested heavily in a new online loans application. The number of people making an online application increased markedly, but completions didn’t move nearly as much.

When the digital manager took a closer look at the fulfilment process he began to remember why the phrases, ‘overtly stuffy’ and ‘clear as mud’ had been invented (by Bob Monkhouse’s uncle actually). The online process had moved on, but the offline process hadn’t kept up.

Give letters the same tone of voice and ease of use treatment

The point is, your hard work getting your online process as smooth as a very smooth thing can be undone if your offline ‘servicing’ letters don’t share the same tone of voice and ease of use and understanding.

We’ve completed substantial letter review projects for financial services and utility clients. And not just welcome and ‘on-boarding’ letters. They’ve included simple things like change of address, and tricky issues like missed payments.

And it’s really not all that tricky. Just write yourself a set of rules that apply to online and offline worlds. Then stick to them, like a very sticky thing.

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