Customer Service – The Good, The bad, The Ugly Part 2: Get a Clue

1378435745_mailToday is the official start of the NFL football season and to celebrate it I’ve received two emails and counting from ESPN.  One was a reminder that “NFL is back and ESPN has you covered” and the other was a reminder to download the fantasy football app.  Last week I got the same reminder emails about college football and their corresponding ESPN College Football App.  Seems like harmless notifications right?  When I already own both apps and have likewise signed into both with the same credentials that included the very email address these emails were blasted to I find these emails decidedly repetitive and annoying.  This post could be considered a bit of an overreaction but my frustrations go way beyond these emails; they just serve to illustrate a point.  The point is, those emails were dumb.  Ok so now I sound juvenile right?  Couldn’t I have used a more eloquent word than dumb.  Nope.  There are at least two factors that qualify something as simply dumb.  The first is could it have been avoided?  The second…see factor #1.  In the case of the ESPN example a simple algorithm in ESPN’s databases could very easily have filtered out anybody who has downloaded those apps by corresponding registered emails.  The emails were simply pointless to me an already engaged app user.  Is there anything wrong with a reminder email, no but folks these were not reminders emails, they were blatant pitches to download their apps.  A separate reminder email encouraging me to engage with the app would have been just fine and frankly expected if I had opted in to subscribe to their alerts and correspondence.  Junk mail.  Purely avoidable.  Dumb.  ESPN has the means to know that I already own their apps and use them.

It’s the avoidability of it all that irks me and the bigger issue is the sloppiness that is rife in the technology age.  This sloppiness defies all common sense.  An example of this has to do with account management.  Recently I took on the arduous task of switching my primary email account for most of my online subscriptions.  After agonizing hours of pouring through countless menus and submenus in nearly every online service or app I subscribed to I was able to successfully change over my login information and email preferences all over or so I thought.  I would discover that somewhere around half of the accounts were still sending marketing emails, offers, etc. to my old email address.  The worst offenders were still sending my digital receipts and other important correspondence to my old email.  Seriously?!  Worst offenders aside the only logical explanation for this oversight is pure sloppiness on the part of their backend database management.  We are blessed to be in the midst of a continual technological revolution and there’s simply no excuse for not utilizing simple filters to separate engaged users from non engaged potential users in marketing blasts, or for database management 101 when a customer updates their email preference (especially voluntarily), or for snafus like this last example from Amazon.

Hey I love Amazon just like the next person.  Come on who doesn’t like lowest prices, hassle free shopping, free shipping ( for Prime users), and no…eh..hum…taxes right?  I used to be amazed at Amazon’s wonderful algorithms that always suggested to me just the right products I actually wanted.  There is one set of suggestions though that I simply couldn’t shake until very recently – groceries.  I used to own a Senseo coffee machine,  don’t judge me, nevertheless when the stores stopped carrying the coffee pods I turned to Amazon to order them.  Big mistake.  Somehow I got on their grocery radar and I began to receive daily, yes daily, emails for groceries.  Sorry Amazon but with the lone coffee pod exception I will always prefer picking my ripe tomatoes out myself.  How to stop the emails though was quite the conundrum.  I didn’t want to opt out of all offers, come on I shop Amazon a lot and their are plenty of offers I utilize but I labored in vain for quite some time trying to navigate their menus to discontinue the emails.  I even utilized Amazon’s cool options for teaching it’s site what I liked including disliking my purchases of the coffee pods but alas I could still count on my daily grocery email.  Sure I could’ve created a custom email filter for it, but that’s beside the point right as I tend to be stubborn and short sighted sometimes.  Last week I finally stumbled on to the proper email preference page where I could specifically turn off grocery blasts and to my delight they have stopped.  In this case persistence paid off, but not everybody is as persistent and truthfully I’m not usually.  Usually I just take a well-you-should-have-made-it-easier-for-me attitude and simply unsubscribe from  ALL of their offers.  There loss right?  I know you’ve done the same.  This is not rocket science folks and in my humble opinion if companies poured even half the effort they do into their primary web page design into perfecting this simple and direct line of communication (email) with their customers I believe only good things can come from it for the both the buyer and seller.  At least don’t be sloppy about it and making a customer’s experience to willingly alter their email preferences difficult may be the worst error of all.  Consumers simply don’t have the patience.

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