Hold my beer customer service

Just this week United Airlines dragged a customer off a plane and destroyed their brand for many customers. Last week Pepsi and Nivea also had tone deaf communications disasters. These are high profile screw-ups but many companies do worse on a daily basis by contracting out their customer service or spamming their customers.

Email marketing still works much of the time. However when large companies send emails from do-not-reply or don’t reply this email addresses this sends a conflicting message.

That implied message is that (the company) is too important to reply to emails. When that email is a customer service email and it doesn’t even have the name of the company in the domain it is a “hold my beer” situation.

“One way communications is not marketing or customer service – too often it is just spam.”

In the customer service example the customer service function has been fully contracted out and that team may not share your brand values or any values at all.

When this scenario is part of the marketing or customer service around an intangible service like a utility that is a recipe for disaster.

If you are competing for customers for a service like a utility – power, phone, internet for example – these are things that are commodities and largely intangible except when something goes wrong.

That is a customer service opportunity. A moment of truth to put things right. Sure in 2017 as customers we can escalate up to a social media channel if there is one (looking at you watercare) but who has time to phone a help desk to get an update.

When a service is intangible the marketing wisdom says make all the business touch-points as tangible as possible.

Every contact should be an opportunity to build good will for the business and in a learning organisation the corporate memory that comes from customer interactions makes every interaction better.

Except if you contract out your customer systems to a call centre in Egypt, the Phillipines or somewhere else so you can save money on staff costs. That doesn’t really work in the longer term.

For someone who is 10,000Km away earning very little and not using any of the company services is not in an ideal situation to empathise or help customers. Sure they all try but language barriers are often more complex than they look. Cultural communication is not straight forward.

In another lifetime I used to sell complex CRM systems to large corporates. Frankly it was a waste of time. Many of those companies bought the promise of the system and our teams but then they mostly didn’t implement any of the system in any kind of useful way. The systems become shelfware.

I spoke with a customer service person today at one of these companies. They had my 15 character system name but then asked me for my contact details as if they don’t also have those.

It is probable that the help desk doesn’t have my contact details and only the outsourced email system has those. Logically that doesn’t make any kind of sense but then this is a company that thinks sending a one way communication from a don’t reply address is a good thing.

Note: The cartoon comes from the Marketoonist who makes very fine cartoons to go with his writing. This one is found at brand conversations.