Don’t email us, call us

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.

“Netflix’s decision to greet anxious consumers with a human voice, not an e-mail, is also unusual in corporate customer service. “It’s very interesting and counter to everything anybody else is doing,” said Tom Adams, the president of Adams Media Research, a market research firm in Carmel, Calif. “Everyone else is making it almost impossible to find a human.”

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 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.

Author: David Churbuck

Cape Codder with an itch to write

0 thoughts on “Don’t email us, call us”

  1. HOw do you really feel, David-Sama?

    But good post with valid points. I really like the idea of some prison-based call center with reps trying to sell me some credit card based service. It make about as much sense as hiring Michael Jackson to be a kid’s advocate.


  2. Ha ha, yes. DC, your meds wore off and you said we all really think.

    Are there any companies doing a brilliant job managing customer service via email? Maybe Netflix is trying to put a happy face on what in reality is an admission that email service is unmanageable.

  3. Yes, it’s true, I don’t get to talk to nearly enough telemarketing/remote customer service types from the Sub-continent, the Phillipines, etc. during the course of the day.

    On the other hand we ought to remember, it was just a few years ago when companies were removing the phone contact info and only providing email forms to allow us to contact them, hoping they might “make resources available for reassignment” in their customer service department by working, smarter, not harder, using email instead of the phone.

    I guess we can say that didn’t work too well…

  4. I actually give Netflix credit on this one. From what I read it seems like they’re doing this because they really think that customers will be better served this way. Most other companies I’ve dealt with (with the notable exception of Weber grills) create Web sites that make it impossible to call OR email. At least Netflix has provided one easy channel. (This is assuming, of course, they have not gummed it all up with one of those idiotic decision trees that never, ever match my needs.)

    My theory is that most companies set these channels up to avoid customers calling. (I worked for a dot com where that was done deliberately and we sat around wondering why nobody used the service.) At least with Netflix I know I can talk to a human and explain my problem. With email I usually go back four or five times with some scripted response that doesn’t answer my question. (Facebook is the notable exception.)

    Am hoping Netflix succeeds at this.

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