A Little Too Honest?
Posted by Becky Carroll on May 15, 2007
In this blog, I always stress the importance of being authentic with your customers. Whether through marketing or customer service, customers can tell when an organization is not looking out for their best interests.
I also suggest appropriately setting customer expectations.
I received a message recently from a reader who was not at all excited about AT&T Yahoo! Member Services and the expectations they are setting for her (and other current customers). She forwarded me an email from AT&T Yahoo!, which opens by reminding her about AT&T Yahoo! and their award-winning products and services she has been receiving. It then goes on to let her know she will be getting unlimited email storage. However, the kicker is the next paragraph:
Additionally, within the next few weeks you will begin seeing graphical advertisements in your AT&T Yahoo! Mail service. These advertisements will be integrated into the AT&T Yahoo! Mail experience, and we hope you will find the advertisements useful. Advertising such as this allows us to continue delivering new and innovative elements to our service and helps us keep prices competitive, while we continue to provide the high level of service that you have come to know and trust.
Thank you, AT&T Yahoo! Member Services, for letting us know that we will now be seeing “graphical advertisements” in our email. Good to know what to expect, and we understand that costs are rising. However, hoping that we will find the advertisements “useful” is a bit of a stretch. From a customer perspective, advertisements may be considered annoying or a necessary evil (which is how they were described here), but the only people considering them useful are the websites and the advertisers themselves.
Perhaps At&T Yahoo! could have offered a choice to their customers. If you want unlimited email storage, you will have to choose the service with advertising. If you don’t care about the amount of storage space (or for a small fee?), you can choose the advert-free email. For example, Electronic Arts has online games at their pogo.com site. If you don’t mind advertisements, you can play for free. If you prefer advert-free gaming, you can subscribe to their Club Pogo for a nominal yearly fee; this also gets the subscriber additional benefits (such as special Club Pogo games, cool ways to keep track of your gaming status, etc.).
The email message closed by stating this:
We strive to provide you with the best online experience possible and to address all your needs on the Internet.
Is the addition of advertising truly a way to create the best online experience possible for customers? Let’s hope the words “customer experience” are not becoming a meaningless phrase used by organizations wanting to look like they care about their customers.