I really need someone to explain this strategy behind the following kinds of communications to me. I get things in email and in snail mail and they start out with something like, “In response to your recent enquiry…”, or “Here is the information you requested.” or “Congratulations! Your application was approved!” And…they are all LIES! I understand that sometimes people lie. And I understand that companies are sometimes greedy. But I do not understand how it can possibly be in their interest to start their communications with a potential customer with a complete and easily discovered lie. What is up with that? So far, the only explanation I can gather is that they only want a very small number of very very gullible (perhaps even impaired) customers that they can soak every penny out of so the initial contact is a kind of screening device. ?? Any other suggestions?
Newsflash: Playing really low quality musak while the customer is on hold for 40 minutes DOES NOT improve the customer experience. Nor, does ALWAYS playing the message that you are experiencing “unusually heavy volumes” right now improve your credibility. Now, I admit that someone in marketing who thought about for about 15 seconds *might* think that playing really bad music would be a good thing. After all, people do pay money to listen to music. Not everyone is a pirate. And, people spend a lot of time listening to music. Here’s the thing that will come to you if you think about for 20 or 30 seconds though. People play to listen to the music they choose. They do not pay to hear the music you choose. Furthermore, people pay to listen to music that is high quality. Granted, sometimes, when nothing else is available some of the people some of the time would prefer low quality music to no music at all. But NO-ONE chooses absurdly bad quality music over silence. One more thing: unless you are a love-struck pre-teen, you do not listen to the same short sequence of music over and over and over and over for an hour at a time. No. You listen to a piece of music. Then, you listen to a DIFFERENT piece of music. Then, you listen to a DIFFERENT piece of music.
Now, I do grant that it is somewhat useful if you are going to put your customers on hold for 40 minutes that you give some sort of signal other than complete silence to show that you are still there and haven’t had the system “hang up” on them (which happens all too often but is another topic). But playing loud, obnoxious, very low fidelity music is not the answer.
Back to credibility. If you are really monitoring the call volume and the customer calls at a time of really unusual high call volume, you may want to tell them that they would have better luck another time. But if you *always* play this message, what do you think it does to your credibility? I am amazed to find that my credit union, an otherwise fine institution, *always* plays this message. And every single time, it makes me think twice about whether I can really trust my funds to an organization that clearly lies every single day.
So, in 2013, I changed from four medical plans to four different medical plans to six plans for 2014. Thank goodness we don’t have a “single payer” system because there is nothing I love more than pouring through a hundred pages of text for each plan which is mainly garbage but occasionally has important information. There is nothing more fun than ping-ponging among doctors every time your plan changes. Oh, wait! I forgot that in addition to the plans I *actually* had, IBM also sent me huge packets of information on plans that were no longer relevant. In the midst of all this, I was heartened to find a concise 72 page document from my dental plan which also informs me: “Please note: if you are a previous user of MyBenefits, you can still enjoy all the same features under the new plan. Simply visit (our website) and re-register with an updated username and password for access to your new plan.” It is the word, “simply” that I object to. Indeed, in some parallel universe, there is probably a time and place for the word “simply” but in has no legitimate place in actually 21st century America. It *invariably* signals this message: “We are going to make this difficult for you. But we don’t want to come out and say that so we will preface our instructions with the word simply so when you have trouble you won’t blame us but yourself.”
(Why do I need a different userid and password?). Anyway, you know the drill. You go to the website and the first six userids that bear any resemblance to my name are taken. But they don’t typically tell you that till you also enter a password. And, of course, there are the typical “security questions” such as “What sized underwear did you wear in the fourth grade?” “What was your second grade teacher’s maiden name?” “What was the name of the company you bought your first ant farm from?” And so on.
This ironic use of “simply” is not confined to websites. It also applies to packaging as in, “SIMPLY remove the plastic overwrap.” Yeah. But, what if you left your chain saw in the garage? “Simply, tear the plastic along the indicated line.” In the rare case, when it is physically possible to tear, it never tears evenly. More typically it is some semi-metalic plastic that requires an industrial laser cutter. the most recent example involved two different kinds of dry cat food. These were nearly impossible for me to “simply” open. I left the bags for a few minutes to get an exacto knife and when I returned two minutes later, my CATS had indeed simply opened the packages and spread the contents around the hallway. For all I know, they might have actually ingested a piece of cat food but it was clear that their main intent was simply to cause a mess. The reason they could open the packages simply is that they have cat claws! I don’t! Not sure what genius came up with the idea that packages of cat food should be opened simply by cats but complexly by humans.
Since the word “simply” has simply gone out of fashion in its true meaning, I think we should simply ban its use. Period.