Half-Baked Digital Ideas Will Leave Your Customers With a Really Bad Taste

While nearly every brand is online  – be it with a Web site, email marketing programs, social media, apps  – many brands make the mistake of going a bit too far by not going far enough. I’m not talking about chasing the next shiny object. I’m referring to some basic digital communication strategies. Let me share with you a few experiences to illustrate the point that if you can’t do it right, don’t do it at all:

My first short story is about my favorite local hair salon, which created an app to allow customers to schedule appointments without having to call.  Simple enough so I tried it.  Three hours later I received a voice mail message from the receptionist saying I needed to call them back to verify the appointment. If I didn’t call back within 24 hours, the appointment will be voided. That seemed a bit stringent, not to mention antithetical to the app scheduler concept.  Good thing I had a phone.

Switching gears to my dentist,  one of the few people I see often whom I hate to see often, he began offering text messaging to verify your appointment, similar to the hair salon but only on appointments already made. Cool – one less call-back I had to make.  You know where I’m going with this: I got the message on my phone to text “Yes” to confirm the appointment. An hour later the receptionist calls me to confirm my appointment.  I ignored her message since I already texted Yes.  The next day she called again and because I didn’t want to lose out on some deep gum cleaning, I answered. I asked what the point of the text messaging service was if she had to call me anyway. She said she didn’t know from such things.

One last story illustrates the perils of personalized email marketing. Several years ago I sent flowers to an ailing aunt. I used one of the top national flower delivery services and gave them my email address, thinking I’d unsubscribe after the delivery was confirmed.  Too busy making hair and dentist appointments, I forgot to opt out of their email promotions.  So roughly every quarter I receive promotions from them to send my aunt flowers. Let’s say her name is Aunt Marie (not her real name, but used to protect the innocent and the deceased). Aunt Marie passed away almost two years ago. This flower company sends me quarterly emails with the subject line: “Don’t forget Aunt Marie this Mother’s Day,” or “Take $100 off on Your Bouquet to Aunt Marie.” I am at once flabbergasted and fascinated, so I have chosen not to opt out of those emails. In a strange way, it keeps Aunt Marie top of mind. But for this flower company it keeps them bottom of the list of retailers I’d choose for my next delivery.

The next time you plan to roll out a customer-service program, be sure it’s fully baked and ready to be served.

 – Diane Schwartz





  • Ken Gullette

    Outstanding comments, Diane. You are SO right.