Thursday, March 19, 2009

Non Sequitur

I guess I'm the cranky geek this week. Continuing the theme setup by my distaste for the Iphone and said fanboys - I have a rant on a behavior that drives me little by little closer to the edge.

Since changing my working situation a couple of months ago I have set about many things. One of the more minor is changing the flavor of ham that makes it way to my mailbox. (Three descending kinds of email. Bacon, Ham, and then the dreaded Spam) As an IT manager I was on all manner of mailing lists and got stuff from many vendors and a ton of newsletters on the full gamut of IT related topics and vertical industry stuff.

In my new role my interests are much more focused. So most of the stuff I used to get I'm now unsubscribing from. Most of the senders get it. I click the link to unsub and that's it. A few however seem to think that this is a good time to send me yet more unwanted mail. Like the confirmation web page isn't enough. They need to send me an email saying "we've received your request". Then another with "We are reviewing your request", Then yet another with "we have removed your name". Often followed by yet another that has links in case I ever change my mind. Wait didn't you just say you removed my name? WTF?

All you have done, my seemingly lonely e-friend, is make sure I never give you any business. Stop it.

This is as stupid as companies that insist on the telephone follow up to an email query. If the customer had wanted to waste time talking to a sales drone - he would call one in the first place. Take my advice. Be logical and return the communication on the same channel it began on. You will significantly increase your chances of making the sale.

Case in point. The last time I went looking for a new vehicle. Like many savvy modern car shoppers I did my research online. I knew the exact car I wanted. Knew it's real dealer cost. Had my personal budget planned and knew what my trade-in should bring. I contacted several dealers via their web sites inquiring about price and availability of the specifics I was looking for.

All but two of them simply added me to their mailing lists. Down to two possibilities. Of those two, one refused to get me any information via email - said I should "stop by" and they would answer all my questions. Even when I pointed out that "stopping by" a dealer 300 miles away was really impractical they refused. Down to one.

The last dealer not only answered my questions but let me know when they got in a 1 year old trade in that met my specs. Of course as a used trade it would save me a ton of money. They even gave me an estimate on my trade. I told them I was interested and setup an appointment. After I purchased the vehicle I searched out the dealership management and told him that I purchased from them due to the way their "online sales manager" had responded.

Similar story on my motorcycle purchase. I also have pizza delivered only from stores that take online orders. You see as a customer I made a choice of communications channel. I thought about it. Every time I order on the phone I get something I didn't want. Online - I click "repeat last order" and 30min later I'm happy. The next time I want to play roulette with my order I'll call you - thanks. Gratefully, these places seem to get that.

When a customer tells you to stop. Stop. When a customer emails a question - email a response. If you need a phone call to truly answer, use email to setup an appointment to talk. Consider that the customer might work nights and calling him in the middle of the day will really put a lid on any sale you might make. Simple - whenever a customer contacts you it's a good thing. Don't blow it being dumb. Are you listening IBM? Hello?

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