The Times today has a piece on how Netflix, in an effort to distinguish itself through customer service, based its call center in Oregon (I guess as opposed to some off-shore, accented locale) and dropped email as a route to customer service, feeling people wanted to talk to a human. Fools. Phones are for losers. Phones are for the digital have-nots. Phones are for lonely people who would otherwise talk to their cats.
“Netflixâ€™s decision to greet anxious consumers with a human voice, not an e-mail, is also unusual in corporate customer service. â€œItâ€™s very interesting and counter to everything anybody else is doing,â€ said Tom Adams, the president of Adams Media Research, a market research firm in Carmel, Calif. â€œEveryone else is making it almost impossible to find a human.â€
Southwest Airlines also doesn’t read its email, and this post is sparked by yet another pissed off SWA customer who was beached somewhere due to a delayed flight and is perturbed she can’t fire off an electronic hate missile. (I‘m still waiting, SWA, just ask, and the post gets croaked).
Okay. We all hate email. I hate receiving it, have nearly a 1,000 cluttering my work inbox, and have three other addresses ranging from my churbuck.com vanity address to various spamcatchers and Gmail variants. Yes, electronic mail sucks ass as its name is usually spam, but the notion of cutting off email as a customer service mechanism is utterly insane to me.
I dislike the phone a lot more than I dislike email. First off, I don’t want to talk to some solicitious human (who may be monitored to insure blah blah). I don’t want to navigate phone prompts, press star, say “More Options”, and finally get to some perfectly nice stranger who, for all I know is in maximum security prison doing time for heinous crimes. The phone sucks, is low-tech, and when it rings in my house it generally brings bad news in the form of bill collectors, college fund raisers, or the Police Athletic League looking for money to put another graduating class through the Sheriff’s Youth Camp where it is better to build boys than repair men.
So, go for it Netflix, turn off your email. Next time my copy of the 300 skips and pixelates and I want satisfaction I do not want to talk to you about it. I want to email-the-facts-Jack, and be done with you. If I want a conversation I will call my Mom.