Shooting Yourself In The Foot With Email
15 August 2000 Edition|
Of all the services that the Internet has brought us, email is widely acknowledged
as the single most popular and valuable one.
After making the fax virtually redundant, email has gone on to make a big dent
in the need to pick up a phone or send a printed memo throughout the day.
Email has significantly reduced the cost of communications for many businesses
who have been able to slash their toll bill and improve efficiencies. When
used properly, email is a simply a Godsend to supplier and customer alike.
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However -- far too many businesses are misusing email to an enormous extent.
I'm not talking about sending personal emails during work-hours or wasting
bandwidth by circulating enormous AVIs or MPEG files around the office. I'm
talking about the way far too many companies are using it as a shield between
their customers and themselves.
Here's an example:
As regular readers will know, a week or two ago I had a TV and a couple of
computers damaged as a result of ongoing power outages here. When I spoke to
the power company (TransAlta -- who else?), they advised me to email their
"Customer Care" address. As it turns out, "Customer Care" should be renamed
"Couldn't Care Less About Customers."
I'm still waiting for even an acknowledgement of my email -- and I'm not holding
my breath. And this isn't the first time I've found that the proudly displayed
email addresses on a company's website turn out to be nothing but the path
to a black hole.
I must wonder whether these same companies would have customer inquiry counters
at their offices where the staff simply refused to take any notice of people
who turned up to ask questions. By not answering email, these companies are
thumbing their noses at their customers -- and that's very bad business.
One of the things I attribute the success of most of my Net ventures to is the
fact that I work very hard to reply to all emails I receive -- even if it's
just a simple, personal acknowledgement and thank you. This kind of thing
makes customers feel important and lets them know that a business takes
their input or queries seriously.
If you have a contact email address which is advertised on your website or which
is fed by a form on that site then you absolutely must make sure that all
queries and comments are acknowledged within 24 hours -- otherwise you're
insulting your customers and driving them to your competitors. And -- don't just
allocate one person to this job otherwise it's all too easy to overlook
this critical task when that person is ill or on holiday.
Remember: email is a valuable business tool -- not a shield to be used against
Do you get annoyed when companies ignore your email? Have your say.
NZ's Most Expensive Website?
How much do you reckon
4 this website
cost to develop?
Let's look at what it offers:
- Regional weather forecasts updated once a day
- News, syndicated from NewsRoom.co.nz
- Some very primitive discussion forums
- A list of stuff for sale
- Some commodity price reports
A nice selection of stuff -- but pretty lightweight really.
So, how much do you think it cost to develop this site and the back-end
that supports it?
How about ten million dollars?
Yes, that's right, it's not a typing error -- Kiwi Dairies claim they spent
ten million dollars developing this "portal" which is designed to act as
a "virtual rural community" for the 2,200 Net-connected dairy farmers in NZ.
Now I realise that the amount of back-end development for any site can
significantly exceed the cost of the HTML -- but I really have to ask -- did
these guys shop around and get competitive tenders before forking out $10m??
yesterday's column, the folks at
Register.com emailed me to advise that it is possible to upgrade one of the
free domain name registrations to a geniune paid version for the normal
Their comments can be found here.
As always, your feedback is welcomed.