The bigger some companies are the more obstacles they invent to prevent customers from being able to contact them. It just doesn’t make PR sense.
Sometimes things go wrong and we just have to face up to that fact. However, ‘gone wrong’ needn’t mean ‘bad PR’. Last weekend my wife decided to upgrade her mobile phone. Having researched deals on the web we set off to the local store of one of the big providers.
Somewhere in the process of the shop assistant feeding into the computer the copious quantities of data needed to purchase a high-end mobile phone these days, something went wrong. Unfortunately, it wasn’t correctable at the shop terminal. The computer had said ‘no’ and that was that. “Well what has gone wrong?” we asked. “It doesn’t say – it just says no,” retorted the shop assistant.
Feeling that we had been thrust into an episode of Little Britain, I asked, “Can you not phone the main office to find out why the computer says no?” “Erm, no, sorry,” said the assistant. “Why not?” I asked. “We don’t have a phone number, but you can write to this address.”
Unhappy at being told no by a computer, I Googled the address and found a telephone number. I phoned and spoke to a real person, who assured me they would look into the problem and call me back the day after. And they did! And they sorted the problem, apologised for the inconvenience and offered a discount by way of compensation. All good PR.
Solving this particular problem has come at cost. It cost time – myself, the shop assistant and others at the company. It has diminished the reputation of the company to me and everyone I will relate the story too who maybe thinking of purchasing a mobile phone. It cost the company a discount (reducing their profit on the sale). No doubt, other customers would have just walked away – leading to unnecessary lost sales.
Why put customers to such trouble? In this internet age we are going to find your number if we want to anyway. If we want to make trouble for you, we will do. Take note big companies – you can’t hide in ivory towers any longer. The essence of PR needs to pervade through your organisation – top to bottom, left to right. Having a few fire fighters on staff is not enough anymore.