Many in today’s business world don’t get the fact that net life equals real life. Now, my objectivity might be a little skewed because I was underappreciated (read: inexplicably laid off) in my last job as Internet Manager. That noted, I am quickly realizing that the distrust of this “newfangled” technology reaches far beyond the American auto industry (God rest it’s beleaguered, yet bailed out soul!). My gripe comes on the heels of a recent run-in with customer service ineptitude online.
This time it was GMAC, but I only use them as one example of the pervasive attitude amongst many businesses. It is the attitude that believes online transactions are a marked privilege that they, the business in question, bestow upon their indebted patrons. GMAC disabled our online account, preventing us from making our monthly installment, albeit a couple weeks late, via the Internet (of the aforementioned newfangledness). Instead of making it more convenient for us to pay, they are, in effect, punishing us for being late. This begs the question, “Do you really want my money, or would you rather wait another week for it?”
Internet bill payment options provide just as much convenience for the creditor as for the indebted. It’s not like they invented the Internet (*ahem* Al Gore) just to reward us for patronage. No, like us, they reap the cornucopia of daily benefits offered in this age of information. The free-flow of information along the international superhighway is what powers business today. For any business to put up roadblocks is just asinine!
And, trust me, it’s not just GMAC barracading avenues for accounts receivable. It is businesses all over the country, including Household Bank. I’ll spare you the boring details, but you get the picture, I’m sure (imagine me on the superhighway flustered by flashing lights atop orange-striped barrels). Trust me, it gets worse...
Social networks are the newest media to become exploited by business enterprise. And, once again, the stooges have tripped onto the roadway, blocking traffic, confounding customers and causing ill-will. Take Marsh Supermarkets for example. They “stubbed their toe” on Facebook and have yet to make good on promises to their loyal fans. I was among the masses duped by their offer, then offended at their accusations. I did not pass go or collect my $10 in groceries! Thank you very little.
The same week as Marsh’s Facebook fiasco, I was duped by another social marketing snafu. This time, Wendy’s, dangling the carrot (sorry, couldn't pass up a Wendy's=Carrot Top reference) of free frosty goodness, lured me onto their site for a gimmicky contest and a coupon. Nevermind that the coupon included a security code, a barcode and was printed from the corporate website, I was refused a free Frosty at my local Wendy’s. And to think that I actually became a fan and posted their promo on my fb page…the nerve!!!
All this to belabor my original point that businesses, especially here in the good ol’ corn and rust belts, need to get out of the IBM Selectric age and join us on this side of the millennium! (pssst...it's almost 2010!) The Internet is here for better or worse, richer or poorer…you get my drift. So instead of treating the public like a mail-order bride, how about a little love and respect??? You’re not doing us any favors by allowing us to pay you what we owe. You’re the beneficiaries of online transactions as much, if not more, than we are. And furthermore, don’t dabble in online media until you know WTF you’re doing. Hire a wet-behind-the-ears marketing team that actually uses tools like Facebook and Twitter, then parse their ideas through some marketing vets who can see past the ends of their noses. Surely you can figure out how to spread a little goodwill and achieve effective public relations through a free medium. No more pile-ups on the information expressway!
There...I feel better. Maybe I should have parlayed my online management skills into a consulting gig. Maybe I still will. What do you think?