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  • 02.17.09

Careers: Personal Branding Monkeys

Why do some e-companies go out of their way to make it impossible for their customers to communicate with them?It’s one of life’s little, annoying ironies. Here we are in our interactive-to-a fault age, and some companies that are Internet-based act as “Keep off the Grass” Idiots.You probably have your own Internet company horror story. Mine concerns an aptly-titled e-mail company called MailChimp. The company easily lets you send high-volume email and provides templates to help you prettify your email.

Why do some e-companies go out of their way to make it impossible for their customers to communicate with them?It’s one of life’s little, annoying ironies. Here we are in our interactive-to-a fault age, and some companies that are Internet-based act as “Keep off the Grass” Idiots.You probably have your own Internet company horror story. Mine concerns an aptly-titled e-mail company called MailChimp. The company easily lets you send high-volume email and provides templates to help you prettify your email. It also provides a pay-as-you-go option, which is especially helpful if you don’t send many emails, and don’t want to be stuck with a monthly or yearly fee.Sound good. But here’s the rub. We recently attempted to send a note out for a client using its service. My assistant innocently attempted to change the name on the reply line of our email (which had my name) to that of our client. MailChimp’s system wouldn’t let her do so so she contacted by email (no phone option exists) MailChimp’s customer service. Instead of helping her, MailChimp’s tone deaf customer service accused her in an online conversation of spamming. She tried to explain and was promptly accused of being rude.  Mailchimp then turned around and in an Internet nano second disabled our account. Ouch. It kind of felt like we were maimed.That was bad enough. The MailIdiots refused to answertwo emails I sent explaining what we were trying to do and asking for a courtesy callback. I also typed in a note on MailChimp’s website explaining our problem and asking for help. That was almost a week ago. The company’s customer service went MIA in our case.Kind of amazing isn’t it? Here is an email company that refuses to answer emails!Rather than continue to hit our heads against the MailChimp wall, we decided to vote with our feet. We opened an account with a MailChimp competitor, Constant Contact, which went out of its way to be helpful. Unlike MailChimp, Constant Contact provides a phone number for you to talk with an actual human being. Who would have thought that phone contact would be such a luxury? The company made it exceptionally easy and in under an hour our note was distributed.I understand that e-companies want to avoid the cost of having someone man phone calls. But in one fell swoop MailChimp damaged its brand. Moreover, its executives have no personal brands.  At least it should instill a culture where emails get answered and customers are helped, not slapped. Well, MailChimp, you are now Exhibit A in the Fast Company Personal Branding Expert Blog Hall of Shame.What Internet customer service stories have you experienced? I’d love to hear from you. Wendy Marx, PR and Personal Branding Specialist, Marx Communications
personal branding, personal brand, public relations, MailChimp, Constant Contact

About the author

Wendy Marx is President of Marx Communications, an award-winning boutique B2B Public Relations agency known for turning companies and executives, including start-ups, into thought leaders. Follow her on Twitter @wendymarx and on Google+ @ plus.google.com/+wendymarx.

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