BEAUTYCALYPSE

How *Not* To Write Emails to Customers

Working on a round-up of best posts and, for the first time ever, ethical excellence hero products of 2014, I’ve stumbled upon this email. Read, smirk, decide yourself if it’s an eff-off or not!

The Quest, dear Adventurers, is as much about communicating as it is about research.
So I happen to call people or, my favourite, to send them polite emails asking questions very, very often.
Most of the time, companies are not afraid to face controversies (it helps that I’m never rude and always as objective in my point of view as I can be, with the help of the latest research), or they reveal change processes, sometimes they even “bare all” and leave me pleasantly surprised by the perfect amount of thought behind their product.
Negative replies are rare; insecure people tend to just forget about my message and pretend that the email “got lost in my spam folder” <– LOLOLOL

Hint to such fellas: only because you ignore me, I’m not going anywhere.”

Anyway, lately I’ve stumbled upon a truly amazing product, and I’m not revealing what kind of product it was, just trust me that is was all kinds of awesome, but – there’s always that “but” bummer, isn’t it? – well, some research revealed that there might be issues regarding the sourcing of the main ingredient. I wrote an email to the manufacturer through a contact form on their website.
My message said:

Dear xxxxx team,
I have read that the xxxxx plant is a threatened species. 
Can you help me understand where you source your xxxxx? That would be immensely helpful. 
Thank you in advance, 
Kindest regards,
Nath”

I sent this as a customer (because I am one), so I didn’t add any further information about my background. My first goal here is understanding the ethics behind that product in my role as a customer.
Only if I’m satisfied with the results of my questioning as well as positively impressed by how I’m treated as a critical consumer, can I decide if I write about the product. If information gained is otherwise not available, I explain that I have a blog and ask my contact in advance if the information they provided me may be disclosed.

In this case, the answer from the company popped up overnight.
And it was a class act! I’m just not sure what class exactly.
Here it goes:

Hi,
We thank you for your email.
We certainly pay attentions to all environment issues.
And we source our natural ingredients in sustainable, renewable manner and attitude.
Please do not worry about this. We take care about this.
Thank you and have a good day.”

I sat and stared at it for a few seconds, and burst into laughter. It really cracked me up on so, so many levels. It translates, for me, into:
Hi.
Whatever.
Ah blow it. Why don’t you shut up.
Or drop dead.
And bother someone else altogether.how-to-not-write-customer-emails
{This is me, left standing in the snow storm. In Skyrim. Well, moving on!}
It was most certainly a WTF moment, but I found it to be a funny one.

So, Adventurers, what do You think?
Eff-off? Poor writing skills? Vote in the comments!
😉

P.S.
I have written the person another email with a more detailed question, and after that message went unanswered, re-sent it to battle the stubborn spam filter.
Answer? *Crickets*

26 replies »

  1. Reminds me of us (*makes sad face), offshore Customer Service Center with language problems and limited understanding of what you are after.. sadly this is modern cost-cutting.

    • Outsourcing customer service is actually utter nonsense – if we think properly 😉

  2. They don’t want to be scrutinised, basically. They probably haven’t looked too deeply into the sourcing of the ingredients themselves, so they aren’t able to give you a clear, well thought-through answer; instead they are trying to fob you off with a truly worthless response. I don’t think they meant to be rude, I think they just had to write something, and what they wrote is basically code for *shrug* .

    • I understand all of that. But the point is another IMHO: as a brand positioning yourself as a green one, wouldn’t it be in your DNA to only source truly sustainable ingredients? Like, sustainable value chain etc.

      • You’d hope that that would be the case; sadly the green beauty sector has its share of impostors. You know that though. I perceive that you’re just frustrated that not everyone shares our standards of high ethics and environmental awareness!

        • Yes, there is some frustration, but in case with this company, I was frustrated to the point I was amused. If that makes sense to you, D. 😉

  3. Love your post and all the answers. Maybe they just do not know the answer, do not care about it, simply buy it from the producer. Point.

    However a more detailed answer would be something to consider, especially they need to fear the reaction in public today with all the cyberspace options…

    • I think if you want to play with the organic crowd, you GOTTA be transparent. Even if you don’t know something. For me a critical Q is a chance to grow better, yes, it hurts and stings, but it is a real chance!

      Maybe I should rewrite their reply and send it to them back, as a free service? 😀

      (To me, the silence after my second email says “f— you” the loudest. Without, I think I would be able to believe in the version with some really bad writing skills)

  4. I hate answers like this, especially if you ask a specific question. I had something similar happen to me a few months ago and it’s still something I’m not happy about, it can make you think differently about a product or firm in general.

    Btw, when I’m writing customer service I always prefer to write as a regular customer and not as a blogger, because I want to know how regular customers are treated and if their questions are taken seriously.

    • That’s the exact point: how do they treat consumers? Do they give them kindergarten-worthy replies or explain kindly?

      How do you treat people who write poor replies? Do you let them know that it’s bad comms style? Because I’m thinking to send this company a notice saying that… In a nice but firm way.

      (And I will keep asking my question anyway, just not them directly but their German import partner)

    • I could go with your guess hadn’t they ignored further emails… There was the turning point when my belief in the good in men left me 😀

      • I have been on a 5 year quest to get a big multi national company to change the spelling on their packaging. Initially they are polite and respond and then they simply ignore me. The reason being, I am sure, is that changing the spelling would cost them a fortune. However, I have not given up hope. Perhaps it is time for me to prod them again. They spell Lyttelton incorrectly. Lyttelton is a very small town in New Zealand. It may seem trivial until you realise that if they happened to write Lundon, instead of London, or Nuw York instead of New York, there would be many complaints about their poor advertising skills.

        • It’s strange because it only costs to reprint the stuff. During those 5 years they sure had to print new packaging. Very weird, and very wrong 😦

          Maybe the people of Lyttelton should put up a Facebook page discussing it? 🙂

          • Yes, I would have raised it with the people of Lyttelton, and I may do so yet, but the earthquakes got in the way. The earthquakes did severe damage in Lyttelton. They are rebuilding well.

  5. OMG! “We take care about this.” Classic! That answer gave me a good laugh. More than anything, I love how thorough you are in your inquiries and can’t wait to read your post on brands that earn your ethical excellence seal of 2014.

    • Thank you love! There is a bunch of them coming, even though the line-up is incomplete because there are some products that I can’t find in the desired quality…

  6. LOL! Diplomatic (read: patronizing) answer. No, it’s ridiculous. The part “don’t worry, we’ll take care of this” is something I could totally see in The Godfather, or any mafia movies 😉 At least you’re set on the standard of the company. Honesty is the best policy, especially when you’re supposedly a green company! xx