Today, there are more options than ever to communicate with businesses. Between help lines, contact forms, email options, Twitter, Facebook, and live chat, there should be no problem getting a message to a company. So I find it more than a little annoying that, despite all these innovations, it’s still near-impossible to get anyone to actually LISTEN to you.

I’ve run into this issue more than once recently (as my LOFT posts will attest). I’ll spare you the McDonald’s story and relate today’s incident with AT&T, which prompted me to write this post.

I was on their website to pay my bill, which I accomplished easily enough. While I was there, I saw a tab for Marketing Preferences, and I thought, “Wonderful! I can tell them to stop sending me offers in the mail every other week.” But, as it turns out, that tab is only for email preferences. Undaunted, I looked for contact options. Surely there must be a way to tell them not to send me all these letters, right?

Wrong.

The contact options are a maze of predefined choices. Want to send a message that doesn’t fit those categories? You’re out of luck. Oh, I’m sure I could have called, but I’ve been down that road before. I don’t want to spend 30 minutes getting passed from rep to rep today, thank you.

The real irony is that AT&T currently has a contest to promote their paperless billing option. They’re giving away $15,000 for the sake of getting your statement to you via email, but persist in sending promotional letters and cards to customers who don’t want them. So much for their commitment to the environment.

Companies need to learn that communication channels that don’t work might as well not exist. People want to be heard, and communication needs to be on the customer’s terms, not yours. I’d much rather have one efficient way to tell you what’s on my mind than half a dozen options that only let me express the messages you want to hear.

 

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