It’s happened again. I had a great post all ready to go which will once and for all help you to remove stains from your clothes and teeth, end the scourge of sludge in your auto’s engine and eradicate those pesky weeks growing between the concrete slabs of your driveway when something happened prompting me go on a tear about something annoying.
OK – the part about solving vexing problems may not be true, but the customer service thing is. Here it is … please help me shout it from the rooftops:
IF YOUR BUSINESS INVITES PEOPLE TO COMMUNICATE VIA EMAIL OR FORMS ON YOUR WEB SITE, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, MONITOR THE EMAIL ADDRESSES YOU USE!
I’ve brought up similar circumstances in the past:
- The case of the mismanaged web form (second example in the article)
- My former bank didn’t respond to my email raising concerns about their product “improvements”
- Frustrations trying to communicate with a large retail chain
The Whole Story
Because of my recent move, I had to change electricity providers. When I called to set up my account, I was asked which day of the month on which I wanted my bill due. I told the nice person which day I thought best for my needs and thought nothing more of it; until I received my first bill, that is, which was set to be due on the wrong day.
I wasn’t overly upset about the mistake. After all, it should be just a quick mouse click to change my preference. I went to the company’s web site to request the date be changed. I learned I would have to fill out a web form to ask for the alteration. I filled out the form.
Five minutes later I received an email informing me that the change would be made if my account met certain conditions. Now I was starting to get a little irritated. After all, this should have been done from the beginning.
Just as I was going to reply, I saw the footer of the email message:
Please do not reply to this automated confirmation e-mail from the offices of [My New Electric Company]. If you need to speak with a [Company] representative, please contact us using the information above.
Now I was really upset. The minor irritation of a small customer service problem was now another online communication thorn in my side.
Businesses: If you’re going to invite your customers to communicate online, let them do so freely! Don’t send email from accounts which are not monitored! Follow through!
There are certain exceptions to this. Banks, for instance, should request customers communicate via a secure form to avoid sharing financial information via unsecured means. Exceptions like that are justified and can be explained to the customer up front.
Something simple like responding to an email regarding an electric account, though, or like in my examples above, should be easy enough to handle vie email.
To be fair, I must acknowledge that my request was approved and the due date changed. An email sent about an hour after I submitted the web form confirmed this. That’s certainly a mark in their favor.
I’d have replied and thanked them for the quick service, but since they don’t monitor the email address …
What say you? Does this kind of thing irritate you, as well? Am I blowing this out of proportion? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.