When Marketing and Customer Service Collide

Becky Carroll is hosting the Carnivale of Customer Service today and the topic is the intersection of marketing and customer service. It’s the perfect time for me to pull out a very personal pet peeve (okay, seriously, how many "p"s can I get in a sentence?). We all know that using a customer’s name is important. However, it can be a company’s downfall when it comes to marketing and service.

My last name, Vander Well, isn’t too difficult – but it is a bit odd because the last name is technically two words. For some reason, my nutty Dutch ancestors saw fit to use multiple words for last names (e.g. the Dutch painters Van Gogh & Van Eyck). In fact, my great-grandfather shortened it to two words to "Americanize" it. Before he came to America is was THREE (van der Wel). The Dutch used this multiple-word-naming convention without any Nostradamus-like consideration of computer technology in which computers will be utterly perplexed by spaces in last names.

So, I regularly receive marketing calls or mail for:

Tom Well
Tom V. Well
Tom Vander
etc.

When it comes to direct marketing, getting the name wrong actually helps me in many cases. If they get my name wrong it goes in the trash or I hang up the phone. What really bugs me is when I’m dealing with a company I’ve chosen to do business with – I’ve made the effort to correct them – and they still can’t get my name right. Case-in-point: GM’s On-Star service.

I’ve used On-Star in a couple of cars, but I cringe every time I hit that blue button and here some CSR in North Carolina with that sweet Southern drawl say, "Hello Mr. Well." I’ve corrected them a couple of times and asked that it be corrected in their system (I still don’t know if they’ve got it done yet). The point is, as soon as I hear my name wrong – they’ve already started the service interaction with one strike against them. If you can’t do a simple thing like fix my name in your system and use my name correctly – why should I trust you with a complex task like fixing my problem?

  2 comments for “When Marketing and Customer Service Collide

  1. February 6, 2007 at 10:29 am

    Thanks for participating, Tom. This post is excellent! The common mistake with my name is people think my last name, Carroll, is my first name. It shows me how well someone is listening if, after I introduce myself, they call me Carroll! See my post How to Earn Business for more examples from me as well as from around the ‘sphere.
    Thanks again!

  2. February 6, 2007 at 11:09 pm

    You’re welcome, Becky! Always to participate with such and exclusive group of Customer Service bloggers!

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