Aug 11, 2008

If you don't want to read this blog... Press 1

- If you are here by mistake, press 2.
- If you don't really like to read, please press 3.
- If you want to contact me, press 4.
- If you don't want to contact me, press 5.
- If you are experiencing technical problems to read UglyDoggy in your browser, press 6.
- For any other option press 7.

"Thanks for your selection. Please wait until we can connect you with our blog technical support team. While you are on hold, let us remind you that UglyDoggy is the best blog out there. Want to have fun? Visit UglyDoggy. For useful tips about creativity, marketing and communications, make sure you visit UglyDoggy daily. If you like to read, you will enjoy UglyDoggy..." (repeat until exhaustion or until you start screaming and sobbing)

Sigh, you get the idea. This posting is half a rant, half a reminder for marketing departments that using common sense when communicating with your customers should always be a must. This usage of common sense includes your recorded answering system. Let's face it, it is almost always the very first thing your customers are greeted with when they call your company's customer service line. But people are calling for VERY different reasons..., so why you think it may be a good idea to have the same promotion for everybody?

If you don't like to read or your never really wanted to be here, I shouldn't be telling you that if you like to read you should visit UglyDoggy daily. You already told me that you don't like to read so the promotion can be perceived like a) I don't listen to your answers or b) I am mocking you.

But let's go with a real example, one I suffered from Comcast during the whole weekend. My internet connection went down on Friday. I called, went through a whole cascade of press 1,2,3 that was basically like saying -> yes, I am an actual customer -> the service I am calling about is internet -> I am having problems with my connection.

Now, "having problems with your connection" means nine times over ten, that you are not being able to connect. So do you think is a good idea to have me hearing -once and again, again, again-, that Comcast has one of the most reliable services for internet connection and that I can have the fastest connection through Comcast? Or that I can also contact customer support via email? I am not being able to connect, people! That means that I don't care how fast the connection is, because I can't, let me repeat that, can't connect. And, if I can't connect, I really don't care if I can reach customer service via email. Guess why? Because I can't connect, what means that I can't send or receive emails. Capisce?

Now, if you really want to make things worse, make sure you have me on hold hearing those same promotions for more than one hour.

I have nothing against automatic answering systems, I do understand the need for them. But use them wisely, making sure that you are not infuriating your customer or your prospect. You are using the cascade system to be able to redirect your callers to the right department, right? Well, you can also redirect them to the right promotion, avoiding fueling a fire that may be already bad enough.

It is mind boggling how much time, effort and money companies put on their traditional advertising (TV, prints, ads) but how little attention they put to other means of communication that they are using to communicate directly with customers and prospects.

I have to say that Comcast is not the only provider that is not using common sense when promoting their services in their answering system. But here comes the rant: so far it has been the only provider that got me on hold for more than 4 hours (5 calls=4 hours on hold) without being able to talk with a human being but hearing during all that time how fast my connection could be! I am not surprised it has been voted the second worst company in America.

If you are wondering, I am still without internet connection and blogging from a Starbucks. Of course I already wrote an email to their SVP of Operations and so far I received a very polite answer with an apology about the time I spent on hold, but no connection so far, no technician visiting my house, nothing.

PS: If you have experienced something similar with an automatic answering service press 7 or better still, leave a comment.

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