Is Your Marketing Run by Robots?

robot imageIt’s election season in New York.  There’s a primary in less than two weeks.  I got 8 pieces of mail yesterday. Two days before it was 3. I expect to see 4 or 5 more in today’s mail. 

Then there’s the phone calls at all hours of the day and evening. 

Some are from live people, anxiously asking me if Candidate X can count on my vote.

The worst ones are from robots, with a recording of Congressman A telling me how vital it is that I  vote for Candidate X.

I hang up on the robots and toss the fliers (oh, the poor trees that died for this). Even the live people don’t really talk to me. They just recite their scripts. They never say why I should vote for their candidate; only that I should.

They’re doing an awful lot of shouting, but not much listening.

Take the time to listen to what your customers say.  Build a relationship.  Send cards for no reason (Happy Daylight Savings Time!).  Enclose a note with their bill, thanking them for their business.  Ask them what they like (or don’t like) most about working with you. People work with people (not robots).

Photo: aussiegall

Attack of the Corporate Zombies

I just spent two days offline. It wasn’t by choice. My cable and Internet were down for two days. But this story isn’t about that. It’s about how Time Warner, my cable company, handled the situation.

Shortly after I lost service, I called to report the problem, and find out how long it would take to fix. The rep’s questions were clueless and some were clearly read from a script, rather than natural responses. After I’d given him my name and address, he wanted to know what time it was and whether it was AM or PM. Huh? He kept calling me m’am, and telling me that they needed my “cooperation” in order to serve me better and bring me better service. Er, do I have a choice?

He thought it would take 3 hours to fix. The time passes, no service. I call again. The first thing the rep does is to ask me to remind him to tell me about their digital phone service. OK, I have no cable and no internet… do I really want to be completely cut off from the outside world?? Nope. Still no ETA on the fix.

The next morning, I call again. Get the same dumb phone question. Still no answer, but they say I’ll get credit. OK, but the credit isn’t the issue as much as the complete lack of communication or meaningful answers to my questions (not to mention the lack of service).

I call again around noon. I’m told again that I’m entitled to a credit..but I’ll have to call and ask for it! Why? Because, “we can’t monitor your account continually.” The notion that the system can’t be programmed to recognize an outage and automatically credit an account, or trigger a message to a human, is nonsense. It’s not that they can’t. They don’t want to!

Now, why not communicate with the workers in the field so they can get better estimates? And why not give an automatic credit? Or even better, a free movie channel for a month, or even a letter apologizing?

This was a large corporation, but it applies to small businesses too. Are you treating your customers this way?