Weaving a tangled Web

It’s not easy churning out these Pulitizer Prize-worthy monthly category feature articles. Much research is involved. I usually start by checking out the store shelves in my local A&P, ShopRite or Kings for interesting products and then calling the 800 number on the package to try and set up an interview. However, for other products — often those from the leading manufacturers — I visit the product website.

This is where the problem usually starts, as many websites are downright confusing, especially when it comes to simply contact information. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to a website to find where a company is headquartered and find no link to a simple mailing address.

For my cookies and crackers feature that is appearing in our November issue I wanted to include one major manufacturer. I won’t name them, but through acquisitions they are definitely in the Top 5. I went to their website to find a phone number to call corporate and was unable to do so. There was a “Contact Us” tab. That is where  consumers are directed to go to ask questions about the company’s products. I went there and had to fill out a job ticket. I did so, writing a very nice letter, including the type of article I was writing, questions that I would like answered, my deadline and requesting a phone interview with a company official to discuss their newest products. At the bottom of the job ticket it says all requests will be answered within 48 hours. I still have not heard back. I am wondering if they treat all of their consumers with the same regard.

I have had this happen to me several times.

Another pet peeve is when there is an actual phone number but no operator to offer human assistance. On several occasions I have dialed an 800 number only to be put into voicemail hell. Prompts ask to spell out the name of the person you are trying to reach. This is a problem when you don’t know the name of the person who handles PR or corporate communications or is the marketing manager and there is no one to assist you. Usually at the end of these calls, after listening to at least nine other prompts, it will say “to reach an Operator press O.” Then when I do that the entire process starts all over again. I know if I was a consumer I would be so mad as to not buy your company’s product again.

Why not begin the recording with “For customer service press 1″ and be automatically switched to an actual live person. You would be surprised at what that would do for customer service and building brand loyalty.

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