Companies that send too many outbound messages can end up harassing their customers. That is how customers feel and while some marketers might suggest that sending more messages (email, mail, any format) may increase the response rate, the bigger issue is the damage done in turning off customers.

One company that fits the bill is AT&T. They clearly want me to buy their new “U-verse” digital TV/phone/internet package. We have received nearly a mailing every week (in different formats) for 2 months and they have called several times. And to top it all off, they showed up at our house last night to harass us. [Update: as of August 2009 they are still sending us mailings constantly and won’t let up. That is 8 months and counting.]

They first asked my husband, who answered the door, if we were satisfied with our current service. When he said yes, they probed to find something we weren’t happy about – that wasn’t hard because our high-speed internet has many interruptions. They used that to set up the sales pitch. The spiel begun and the 2 sales people at our door spent 15 minutes trying to get my husband to switch to their new service right there and then.

They used phrases and words that I interpreted (upon hearing what happened) as too polished and not straightforward enough. They said they could “make the upgrade today” and phrases that made it sound like we had to act now since they were on-site. I’m not foolish enough to believe that anything happens on-site. When my husband wouldn’t decide on the spot, they said they’d return in one hour at 8 p.m. Come on, it’s dinner time and we had already seen all their past mailings and didn’t want the service.

Ok, enough is enough AT&T. This just feels like harassment at this point. It’s clear you want us to “upgrade” and pay more for virtually the same service. The tireless messages of “cash back” and offers that allow us a discount for some months isn’t a compelling reason to upgrade – since we will pay more in the long run.

Now, your company may not be this bad – please tell me they aren’t, but communicating weekly is a lot for most products and most customers. Even monthly can be a bit much depending on the cycle of use of your product or service.

Frequency is an important consideration in customer communication in addition to your message. The best approach in message development is to consider what valuable information you can provide every time you reach out to customers.