Friday, October 05, 2012

Signs that Customer Service Matters

I recently found myself trying to reach Customer Service executives in a large number of US companies.  After a full day of research, I came to a very sobering conclusion:  Most large companies in America have no interest in hearing from their customers.

Today, the most common way to electronically reach individuals in a company is e-mail.  US Mail still works but I cannot tell you how many people have told me that the letter I sent was probably “still sitting in their mailbox at work” as they never check their mailbox anymore.  So, e-mail it is.

So here’s your challenge of the day:  Pick 5 big companies with whom you do business on a regular basis.  Identify the senior customer service executive from the information on the company’s web site and send them a nice e-mail telling them how much you like their products.

You can’t find their e-mail address?  Not surprising.  Putting an e-mail address on a web site is a spammer’s dream.  So that leaves you with guessing the e-mail address.  “firstname.lastname” is pretty common these days.  Surprisingly, this logical form of e-mail naming is not very common for senior execs which takes me back to my original point; if you want people to be able to reach you, have an e-mail name or alias that follows a logical model.  Anything less is purposeful obfuscation. 

“I don’t want all the SPAM that would arrive if I was reachable using a common name” is the excuse I commonly hear.  In a large company, it would seem to me that an admin could be assigned to screen out the flotsam messages and forward the valuable messages to the senior exec.  Some may claim the work to be tedious but so is throwing out junk mail that arrives in our USPS mailbox each day.  It’s just part of what you do if you have a mailbox.

My experience has shown me that it is a rare occasion that a senior executive can be directly addressed by e-mail.  Try all the various naming conventions you want.  Very few will be found to be workable.  Notable exceptions include Steve Ballmer, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, Karen Puckett and Hubert Joly. 

The sad reality is that too many companies want the public to think they are customer-focused when the reality is quite the opposite. 

The next time you see a company promoting their exceptional service, see if you can electronically reach their senior executives.  The companies that are serious about service will have the e-mail option available for you.  The posers will have their executives sequestered where no one can reach them because they are “too busy” to have someone screen their messages.

I’d like to know the names of companies where you have been able to reach senior management.  There ought to be an Honor Roll for these folks.  They are the real Customer Service executives.