How do you react when a letter from your bank addresses you as “Dear Valued Customer?” Does it make you feel valued? Probably not! Still, we readily admit, there are many instances when a generic salutation may be the best way to go.
After more than 22 years of experience in developing bank communications and working closely with bank data files, MKP communications inc. has gained a unique perspective on the pros and cons of personalized vs. standardized salutations.
For many banks, the address block of a data file becomes a catch-all for additional information including legal designations like “custodian” or “incompetent” or “deceased.” We think “Dear Valued Customer” starts to sound pretty good when compared to “Dear James Smith Incompetent!”
Another possible pitfall relates to the quality or accuracy of the input. It’s not uncommon for customer information to be entered incorrectly when accounts are opened. Any errors might appear on the envelope (or through a window), but repeating those errors in a salutation just exacerbates the problem.
With business databases, we find that few banks are confident they can supply clean, updated contact names. Even Private Clients and Commercial Bank customers, who tend to receive highly personalized service from a Relationship Manager, can present a challenge because their address information is not systematically and centrally maintained.
One size doesn’t necessarily fit all when it comes to salutations. Some banks prefer to address their customers by name, despite the downside. At MKP, we know how to programmatically support this strategy, and we implement it on many of our communication assignments. However, we’ve learned that most customers are indifferent to the salutation on a bank communication. It’s the message that matters to customers, not how the message is addressed.
So remember, Dear Valued Reader: it’s ok to use a generic salutation for your mass customer communications!
MKP communications inc. is a New York City based communications company that delivers spot-on strategy, smart, fresh creative, combined with flawless execution, for financial services clients.