Service of Hiding

August 22nd, 2009

Categories: Accommodation, Communications, Customer Service, Manipulation, Marketing, Visibility

Why do so many corporations make it near impossible to reach them and their employees? What are they afraid of?

Have you tried to call or email some major ones lately? In spite of online searches and scouring their web sites, it can take 20 minutes to get a general number that works, one that doesn’t land you at a customer service center that can’t address what you need to know.

With the exception of telephone, electricity and such, most of my vendors are entrepreneurs. Last week, I had a question about my domain; in fact I panicked [more about this in an upcoming post on scams].  I heard back from the web designer and web host contact in a few hours. One responded at midnight. I’m not sympathetic with people who are too busy to be found. The entrepreneurs and entrepreneur-minded people I know treat Saturday and Sunday like Tuesday if need be.

Zappos founder Nick Swinmurn sold his business to Amazon.com for $847M. He made accessibility an art and thought that communication with customers–and people trying to reach him–worth the expense in his time and money.

Similarly, why do so many businesses have online contact forms to which they never respond? If they fired the person who read them, then they should delete the forms from their websites and with it, the fiction of being available. I refer to companies that are selling something-such as hotel catering and room rentals or places that lease event spaces. If these businesses have too few people left in their sales departments to answer questions of potential clients, why not close the door? Who would dare entrust a client to a hotel or rental operation that cared so little to begin with?

Can you guess the types of operations that do respond immediately? Several churches in New York City that surely are understaffed and under funded, got back in 24 hours in response to a research project I’m conducting as well as people in the facilities department at the State University of New York. Surprised?

I don’t mean to imply that all big businesses are inaccessible and small businesses are saints in this regard. We all have our lists of people who never respond regardless of where they work.

Tell us which corporations you admire for their accessibility.

Have you also noticed this hiding trend? Can you explain why companies feel the benefits of invisibility outweigh the downsides?

One Response to “Service of Hiding”

  1. Simon Carr Said:

    There was a time when many famous opera singers, despite having a bad cold, would sing anyway. Why? Because the public paid to hear them, not a substitute.

    There was a time when businesses existed to serve the public and responded to your questions because it was there duty to do so.

    Those days are gone. Businesses today exist to make money for their managers and their shareholders right now, not tomorrow or a week from Friday. It costs money to hire people to answer telephones. That money comes directly from the bottom line and reduces profits.

    I have learned that it is virtually useless to attempt to call any large American corporation, and avoid doing so whenever possible. Besides, I dislike being routed to India when I call.

    Thank God for small companies. For the most part they do answer the phone. This is one reason why I avoid patronizing chain stores, even though they may be less expensive, and give my modest trade to individual proprietors.

    Thanks for the post!

    Simon

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