I’m a copywriter, but I’m also a dad, so I spend an inordinate amount of time sounding like my own dad. It’s really quite scary to me. I catch myself saying about 100 times per day, “what do you say to X?” after my kids receive whatever it was they were asking for.

Invariably, I get the kind of response that I probably used to give my dad, “thank you.” But kids seldom mean it when you goad them into it like that. It’s like “sorry” – that word hardly ever crosses their mouths without a great deal of persuasion and/or yelling.

Now, what I wanted to blog about today was those 3 little words, but not from my kids, from businesses.

The Hollow Response

How many websites have you been to where you went through the arduous checkout process only to receive a curt “Thanks – your order has been submitted” robo-response?

Or the horrible auto-robo-email-response “Do NOT reply to this email.” Why? Don’t you care about me?

These little auto-responses are the biggest missed opportunity in your content strategy.

Be a Grown Up

You want to know what feels so wrong to me? Those auto-responses sound exactly like my kids do when they have been cajoled into saying ‘thank you’ or ‘sorry’ – they are written like those businesses don’t really mean it. Just once, I’d like to get a confirmation page that confirmed for me how absolutely excited and happy the company is that I made it all the way through their checkout and actually bought the damn thing.

“Thanks Steve! We’re so glad you bought ABC123 from us. We will send you an email right now to confirm your order. We’ll also let you know if anything gets delayed. Okay? If you need to contact us any time about your order, your number is 123456 and you can reach us at email hidden; JavaScript is required.”

Thank you pages and error messages (sorry messages) should sound like a real, honest person said them, not a robot. Because like real life, the people on the other end of the computer have feelings. They are precious.

Want an example of what to do with your customer interaction points like thank you’s and auto-responses? Here’s what I got from BT in a text message when I switched to their broadband*

This is to confirm your BT order. We’ll send you more information by email and letter. Thanks for choosing BT.

Here’s what I thought was good:

  1. It was timely. I received that text within 30 minutes of hanging up from the sale.
  2. It was relevant to me. I wanted to know if the order went through like they said it would.
  3. It sounds like a person wrote it. It is in a casual tone and uses first person ‘we’. Nice.
  4. I chose BT and the context for them to say so is correct. If I had complained, I wouldn’t want that message. I’d want a ‘Thanks for staying with BT’.
  5. I also received the email they promised and it was written THE SAME WAY.

“If you don’t mean it, don’t say it” is what my mum told me. And that’s true in business too. Mean what you say and say what you mean. And don’t forget to say ‘thank you’.

* Please note that we do not (currently) do any work for BT and that we don’t necessarily endorse their products over anyone else’s. We just liked it and thought others should know that the content was good. But if you’re reading this BT, you can always get in touch with us to talk more about your content. Thanks

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