It’s unbelievable in this day and age that companies, both large and small, are still refusing to handle even the simplest of the digital channels, email.

Earlier this year, my wife and I went through that simultaneously painful and exciting experience of shopping for carpets (amongst other things) for our new house.  Like Liam Neeson, I’m from Ballymena, and I like to shop around for a good price, so my wife and I visited quite a few places to get a good idea of price and quality.  To make things easy for me (and I thought, them), I asked each shop to send me a quote to my email address so we could think about it.  To my surprise, a couple of the shop vendors told me “We don’t do email”.  You could have knocked me over with a feather…  Long story short, they didn’t get our business.  Now you might conclude that we bought our carpets from some glitzy hi-tech carpet showroom…but you’d be wrong. It was a large warehouse in one of those industrial estates where you learn to drive your first car on a Sunday afternoon.  But that didn’t matter. We got fantastic service and a big part of this was they were easy to do business with because they used email.

Probably more surprising to you is this true story…  Around the same time my wife and I were looking for a mortgage (unfortunately we’re not that wealthy) and I sent emails to a few banks for quotes including my own bank that I’ve been using for over ten years and for whom I’m a “prestige customer” (a status which I pay for by the way!).  Guess what?  My own bank was the only one that didn’t return my email!  A few months later, when it was too late, they got in touch with me to apologise and ask was I still interested…  The sad thing is, this particular bank usually does everything right for me.  They have a great on-line banking website which I totally depend on as I travel a lot.  And this includes a great secure messaging (email) feature.  On this occasion, however, they dropped the ball because (their words) they ‘lost’ the email.

Finally, and this one is really annoying me at the moment, I’m corresponding with a UK government department regarding an important matter that, if I divulge, then you’ll immediately know who I mean which would be unfair…  Shockingly, they refuse to handle email, insisting instead on using letters.  My eldest daughter recently saw me writing one of them and asked me who I was writing the email to and I had to explain that it wasn’t an email, it was a letter.  She then asked me “What’s a letter?”.  Okay, that last bit is untrue, but you can tell I’m very unhappy about this.  What makes this so annoying however is that I happen to know that their organization DOES have an email management solution but their specific department refuses to use it!

So, rant over, here are my final thoughts:

  • Email helps you do business with your customers, whether you’re a small business in a small village or a large high revenue turnover business.
  • Particularly if you’re a large business, you need to make sure your email solution is fit for purpose and configured to route to the correct people so that it doesn’t get lost.  Could this be the weak link that lets your business down?
  • If you’re a public sector organization, you can’t (and shouldn’t) hide from email because your customer (the taxpayer) expects it!

As always, do let me know your thoughts on this subject!