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David Sims - TMCnet CRM Alert Columnist[April 8, 2005]

Readers´┐Ż Mailbag: Still Stinks

By David Sims, TMCnet CRM Alert Columnist

One mixed blessing in being a columnist with a printed e-mail address is that people will use it. Say I write a piece about Acme Anvils -- the P.R. officer for Acme Anvils will either write to thank me for a nice piece or inundate me with press releases from other companies I don’t really care about.

But there are some pearls cast my way, and here’s where I share them with you.

First off, this isn’t exactly related to TMCnet work, but it came through e-mail so technically it qualifies. A friend sent me news that noted Mideast policy expert Richard Gere has met with Israel’s foreign minister Silvan Shalom and has informed Mr. Shalom that Palestinians and Israelis must put the past behind them and take advantage of a "special moment" to make peace.

That someone with the demonstrable lack of wisdom to star in such truly stinking wretched movies such as Intersection, Red Corner, Chicago, Unfaithful, Dr. T and the Women and too depressingly many others to list here has the arrogance to expound upon Mideast politics to people who actually know what they’re doing is breathtaking. No doubt Mr. Shalom posed for the photo ops with Gere, listened politely for as long as he could stand it, chased the office secretaries back to work and thanked him for his time and turned his mind to serious matters.

Greg Veeser writes in to say “Your article ‘Three ways to lose customers’ was very informative. I'm going through a similar problem with right now. They have been very evasive and frustrating in their customer service.”

I wrote of the frustrations with, how they blithely shipped a CD I’d ordered weeks after their promised ship-by date, which made it too late for me to pick up before returning to Antalya. I complained and got cold, aloof form e-mails informing me first that I was too stupid to read the ship-by date, and finally one blaming their supplier.

“How would you recommend that I get ahold of a direct phone number to the company? I've searched the web and can't seem to find them listed anywhere. In most situations, I'd just cancel the order, but the CD I've ordered from them is very rare and isn't for sale anywhere else,” Veeser writes. “Thank you for any suggestions you may have.”

If I were I sure wouldn’t print my phone number either. My suggestion? Don’t buy anything from again; I’m sure not going to.

Richard Stevenson wrote in to say “ David, Just read your article ‘ Forrester Rates eService Vendors.’ What a shame that Forrester obviously did not test iPhrase's own web site - the attached GIF image shows what happened when I tried to access the report using the link to iPhrase you referenced in your article.” [Trust me, readers, it’s gruesome - DS] 

“The first time I visit their web site, not only did I have to register, but I also had a ‘bad experience’ - is this reason for me to go back as a new ‘customer?’”

Would that companies which preach customer service practice it a bit, we could do with a few more physicians healing themselves. Richard, co-founder and the CEO of CobbleSoft, is a Brit living in New York’s Finger Lakes region, by his own account “brewing great Finger Lakes coffee and putting the cat out each night.” I’ve never met the man but I must say I like him – explaining his company, he says “ we work on the theory that ‘friendly and informative’ generates better results in the long term.”

This just in: Someone sent me an e-mail about a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis suggesting that “good-looking people tend to make more money and get promoted more often than those with average looks. The analysis is published in the April edition of The Regional Economist, the Fed's quarterly magazine.”

This, I must say, answers a lot of questions. I can hear my lawyer salivating as I type this.

Lastly, Gene Davis wrote about my piece on junk fax laws to say “Hello David: I really enjoyed your article... I personally feel that this sort of issue is a difficult thing to deal with but would love to see the unsolicited FAX and call scenario go away. I am a small business owner in Palm Springs, CA, and I find that both are real drains on resources for a small company.

“I must get 250 unsolicited faxes a week; no way to determine how many unsolicited sales calls. I have always hated having to talk to an unattended answering system but in all honesty, it does eliminate much of the unsolicited calling. While I would far rather have a live person answering my phones, I have given in and moved in that direction instead of having a pleasant, reasonably intelligent human being answer the phone just because of the quantity of unsolicited calls. I feel I have tried everything I can legally try to get by them.

“It costs me about 6 employee hours a week to try to get off the fax lists, by calling the remove numbers, not to mention the toner, ink and paper. All of us that have ever depended on fax machines for business have tried the fax servers but that technology has a substantial cost to it as well, and has never been very reliable.”

He says much more which will be a subject for a future column, but suffice it to say that I’m in total sympathy. One can understand aggressive advertising, spam calls and e-mails, but junk faxes are the one form of advertising so far designed which requires the unwilling recipient to bear the costs of the advertisement. This, folks, is not right. This is why Dante created Circles 7-9 in Hell.

David Sims is contributing editor and CRM Alert columnist for TMCnet.

To discover how contact centers can save money and increase productivity by making the switch to IP Telephony, be sure to attend TMC's IP Contact Center Summit May 24-26, 2005, in Dallas, Texas. IP Contact Center Summit is co-located with the Speech-World conference, where you can get expert guidance in the deployment of speech technologies to strengthen customer relationships.

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