Brain-Dead Businesses

Why do so many businesses spend millions of dollars on a slick marketing image — and spoil it by turning into zombies when you try to communicate with them? Two examples this week — Vodafone and Telstra.

Telstra? Well, today it was just the usual battle with their voice-recognition system. More about that another time.

As for Vodafone, earlier this month I wrote about how I thought Vodafone’s website was broken because I went to www.vodaphone.com.au by mistake. I thought it’d be nice to suggest how they could fix that.

But go to their contact-us page and click on “Email us” and you don’t get an email form — you get a list of FAQs. You have to find another “Contact Us” link after that to get the form. You must choose a topic — but “website” isn’t there, so you have to guess.

I chose “General Info” because it seemed suitably generic.

A couple of days later I got a reply. I’ve posted the full text below to show how pig-ugly and user-unfriendly it is, but here’s the relevant bit:

Dear Stilgherrian,
Thank you for your feedback.

The feedback you have provided has been forwarded to the appropriate area for their collation and reporting purposes.

Thank you for taking the time to contact us.

Gosh, my time was well spent. My individual suggestion has become a tally mark somewhere.

Case closed.

Since I specifically asked for an “on the record” response, and Emma says this is “solved”, here’s their full reply, warts and all.

Recently you requested personal assistance from our online support center. Below is a summary of your request and our response.
If this issue isn’t resolved to your satisfaction, you may re-open it within the next 5 days.
Thank you for allowing us to be of service to you.
If you do reply, you MUST enter your response in the space below as this is an automated system. Text entered into any other part of this message will be discarded. Alternatively you can click on the link below.
[===> Please enter your reply below this line < ===]
[===> Please enter your reply above this line < ===]

To update your question from our support site, click here.
Subject
Folks, The other day I couldn’t find Vodafone’s website because I was going t…

Discussion Thread
Response (Emma)
26/09/2006 01:05 PM
Dear Stilgherrian,
Thank you for your feedback.

The feedback you have provided has been forwarded to the appropriate area for their collation and reporting purposes.

Thank you for taking the time to contact us.
Customer (Stilgherrian No Surname)
24/09/2006 09:39 AM
Folks,
The other day I couldn’t find Vodafone’s website because I was going to http://www.vodaphone.com.au — with “phone” spelt correctly. I wrote about it at http://stilgherrian.com/internet/vodafone_half_useful/ and now 2% of my web traffic is people searching for “vodaphone.com.au” or variants.
A suggestion: Since you’re actually the licensee of vodaphone.com.au, why not have some sort of message there explaining the “correct” spelling of your business name, and taking people to your website, instead of leaving us hang? Who knows how much traffic you’re missing!
I’d love an “on the record” response, either here in email or there on the blog.
Oh, there’s some background at http://stilgherrian.com/internet/what_comms/ too, which might interest your marketing people.
Regards,
Stilgherrian

Stilgherrian http://www.stilgherrian.com/
Internet, IT and Media Consulting, Sydney, Australia. ABN 25 231 641 421
mobile 0407 623 600 (international +61 407 623 600)
fax 02 9516 5630 (international +61 2 9516 5630)
Auto-response
24/09/2006 09:39 AM
Hi Stilgherrian
Please Note: Your question has not yet been submitted. Check the information below and if it does not answer your query please click “FINISH SUBMITTING QUESTION” to contact us.
Title: Can I use my mobile whist I’m overseas?
Link: http://vodafone.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/vodafone.cfg/php/enduser/popup_adp.php?p_faqid=790&p_created=1047591483
Title: How do I send a PXT® message?
Link: http://vodafone.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/vodafone.cfg/php/enduser/popup_adp.php?p_faqid=1619&p_created=1058495837
Title: What support does Vodafone provide to Charity?
Link: http://vodafone.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/vodafone.cfg/php/enduser/popup_adp.php?p_faqid=954&p_created=1048731058
Title: What are the rates on Business Cap?
Link: http://vodafone.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/vodafone.cfg/php/enduser/popup_adp.php?p_faqid=2980&p_created=1153885538
Title: What can I access under PXT World?
Link: http://vodafone.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/vodafone.cfg/php/enduser/popup_adp.php?p_faqid=1121&p_created=1050467968

Question Reference No060924-000023
Product Level 1:
General Info
Date Created:
24/09/2006 09:39 AM
Last Updated:
26/09/2006 01:05 PM
Status:
Solved

Emma
Correspondence Team
Vodafone Pty Limited ABN 76 062 954 554
www.vodafone.com.au
This email is subject to the terms and conditions set out in Vodafone’s SFOA which is available on www.vodafone.com.au

Maybe Vodafone should read this piece about how businesses should treat their customers better.

Tags:

  1. Zern’s avatar

    Marketing is slick because it is all about “looking” slick. Less priority on the actions to backup the look or brand promises. Looking good is more important than being good. It is probably also cheaper to look good than be good.

    Reply

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