It ought to be obvious. If you deluge potential customers or contributors with email, whether imploring them for donations or reminding them of your products, eventually they will run away. Unsubscribe. Detach.

The first time this happened, I had made the near-fatal error of donating $3 to Obama’s 2008 campaign. From that moment on, each day I was buried in fundraising letters from what appeared to be every single member of the Democratic party and their affiliates.

I approved of the causes and at first, I just deleted the extra emails. It seemed the more I deleted, the more arrived. Wave after wave of causes, the DNC, pols in states I’ve never visited, much less lived.

One day I sat down at my computer and began unsubscribing. I continued through the day until finally, none were left. I will never donate again. Note to DNC: Don’t make contributors feel that giving you a bit of money was their worst-ever life decision.

Now, there’s “The New Yorker.” This is a great magazine, one of the very few I still read. The cartoons alone are worth it because  no publication has better cartoons than “The New Yorker.” I even went so far as to subscribe to it. Not only do I get their online stuff and access to their archive, I get the physical, paper magazine. The mailman delivers it.

Yet, every single day, my email is full of subscription offers from the New Yorker, and now, from affiliated news publications. They send me articles — which I mostly read or at least skim. But then, they send me the same articles three more times. I delete them. Followed by half a dozen reminders to subscribe — which I’ve already done. Why do they do this? I feel like I’m under siege by my own troops.

Amazon, from whom I buy a lot of stuff, doesn’t spam me. Nor does LL Bean. Or Audible or Zappos. To these companies, I remain loyal. They treat me as if they value my business and I spread the good word about them.

All of these companies also have great service when things go wrong. They don’t make it difficult to return items. They don’t charge “re-stocking” fees. They deliver quickly at no charge. They stand behind their products and suppliers and if something goes wrong, the customer does not wind up at the short end of the transaction.

This is basic marketing. It boils down to one golden rule for marketing:

Treat your customer the way you’d like to be treated if
you were the customer. 

I should think this would be obvious. As time goes on, I find myself eliminating companies and organizations from my world because they don’t get it.

Obvious, isn’t it?


Categories: Customer Service, Humor, Money, Shopping

Tags: , , , ,

17 replies

  1. My wife donated to some “Save the ______” (put ANY animal name in the blank). Uh Oh! She got put on some list. You know the ‘Rest of the Story’ …


    • Yes, I do. The ONLY group that didn’t do that to me was the Durrell Foundation. They breed nearly extinct animals in a very private zoo on the Isle of Jersey. It was founded by the late Gerald Durrell, who was also a writer. They work quietly, saving as many species as they can so that maybe, someday, they can be returned to the natural world. And they don’t spam anyone.


  2. I agree, Marilyn, and I also like the cartoons from the New Yorker. I cut a few of them out because they are so priceless.


  3. Funny, I was just thinking of customer disservice this evening. I went to KFC intent on bringing home a bucket of original recipe chicken to make my next few meals. KFC’s original recipe chicken is one of, if not maybe THE best selling item in the entire fast food world. You should never walk into a KFC restaurant and have to wait more than a few minutes to get it. If you have a golden goose item, you should be VERY proactive about making sure it will be readily available for customers….

    You see where this is going…. they didn’t have any ready when I got there and had literally just put some more in the fryer. “We got hammered” the lady at the register told me apologetically. Yeah, KFC always gets hammered at dinnertime… that’s still no excuse for waiting until you ran fresh out to decide to finally make some more. I could have waited the 16 minutes, but walked out on principle even though it meant having to throw something together at home that I didn’t have. I hope the Colonel is rolling over in his grave as I type this…

    For the record though, I did politely leave and not chew out the frazzled staff for this fast food no-no. As a customer service worker myself, I would never condone taking anger out on a grunt who likely had nothing to do with the issue that caused the problem anyway…


    • I think it’s the whole “you get what you pay for” thing. These fast food places hire people, pay them the least they are legally allowed. So everyone does the minimum required to keep the job until something better comes along. I swear the people who operate all our local fast food joints look like they’ve been lobotomized. They all have a thousand yard stare and don’t understand any known language. Anyway, you can never take anything for granted … like getting the right stuff in your order. Or anything else.


  4. An online store once wanted to charge me a re-stocking fee of $200 for a purchase of $900. I have not used them since. It’s bad enough when I would have had to pay the shipping and insurance myself to return the item. Live and learn, I guess.


  5. I once spoke to the ‘development office’ of a favorite charity — told them I was happy to donate, but that I wasn’t giving them my precious dollars to have them spent to ask for more! They heard my plaint and stopped asking — they are still a favorite charity, and I’m happy to support them.


    • Charities, ah, don’t get me started. The fake ones that call you collecting for cancer victims who never see a penny of the money. There ARE charities worth supporting, but there are so many frauds.


      • There’s a good evaluative site called Charity Navigator that shows how they use their money and rates the charities on how well they meet their purpose.


  6. you’re right of course. We have a paper magazine subscription plus online access, the latter for several years. Maybe they figured out, at least once, that there isn’t much else that they can sell us. Though we do get regular postal mail about opportunities to re-subscribe.


  7. You would think they’d get the customer treatment thing right. Wrong! They’ve been brainwashed into thinking they can barrage us with everything and we’ll bite.


  8. That’s interesting about The New Yorker. We have had a subscription for years and we get nothing from them. Maybe they have a no longer active email address. Or???


    • I think The New Yorker only rather recently began an online subscription push. I don’t remember seeing them as much of an online presence until the past few months. We used to subscribe, back when we were first married, but dropped most subscriptions over the years. I really like the New York and both Garry and I actually read it. But they need to work out a few kinks in the system, one of which is knowing when a customer is ALREADY A SUBSCRIBER. When you subscribe online, you get not only the magazine, but a lot of associated daily New Yorker newsletters (who knew they even had this stuff?) and archived material (best of collections, mostly). Which is nice … until it gets out of hand. And no one should sell their subscriber list to other organizations. That’s just not nice.


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