Tuesday, December 06, 2005

An open letter to HR.com

I enclose, for your reading pleasure, an open letter to the management of HR.com.

Dear Ms. McGrath;

I’ve been reading your emails for years, at least three or four, and with a couple different email addresses. I have forwarded your emails to a half dozen or more executives at that many companies. I’ve saved (and recently lost in a poorly managed email system migration) a number of emails because I found them informative and relevant. I read fewer emails in the last year as you provided the “best of” series instead of new content, but I never threw your emails away without first taking a glance to see what (potentially new) information you had for me.

It is with great disappointment I opened today’s message under the following header:
From: HR.com [mailto:realityhr@hr.com]
Sent: Tuesday, 06 December, 2005 1:12 PM
To: jeffrey@davidson.net
Subject: Reality HR Interview with Arte Nathan of Wynn Las Vegas

I clicked on the link:
For All Members:
- View the entire article here.

and I discovered the article had expired for general members. Now first, I am guessing you think of me and my fellow general members as idiots, because why else would you tell us the article was available, but had expired within the first 12 hours? There are just too many vagaries in life to presume all of your members (or most? or any realistic sample of the population?) are going to read the article in something less than that time. So I therefore don’t believe the article ever was available to my class of your membership. Or second, maybe the article was expired and then we never did have a realistic chance to read the article and you don’t think of us as idiots, but as guinea pigs or rats in a maze.

As a small business owner I understand the need to convert customers who browse into those who purchase, and as a patron of businesses I know the only way this only happens when I find enough value to pay for the service and the service provider has earned and keeps my trust. You have, with the simple action of this link promising an article “for all members,” but then providing me with nothing more than the chance to buy I, betrayed my trust and lost my business.

I contrast your message with the emails I get from McKinsey or Emerald Insight, both of which clearly identify when content is part of a premium service and do not lie to me about article availability.

For years I have been a fan of your services, though I have never paid for them. While I cannot assure you any of the articles I forwarded were read or that any revenue resulted from my actions, I provided you one of the key things every business needs, avid fans trying to recruit new customers for you. Was the loss of my business worth what you gained by making this interview a revenue generating item?

Jeffrey Davidson


Glenn said...

Posted like a man after my own heart.
In the service business, the motto should always be:

Like our service? Tell a friend.
Dislike our service? Tell us.

This company will benefit greatly from the feedback you have given it. Let us hope they recognize it and respond accordingly.

Jeffrey Davidson said...

Well, there is an update in a new post, Now Don't I Look the Fool?, but thank you for the feedback.

I am glad I gave them feedback, even though it now turns out the response was both over-the-top and wrong.

The truth is, a good business-owner / manager should live and die by customer feedback. Getting just one response like mine can save you from upsetting 10s, 100s, or 1000s of customers. Most (all?) of whom will leave with nary a trace nor a reason given.

So while I hope this does cause a procedure manual rewrite, it will serve as a reminder to check the small details of their next interaction with customers. And won't we all be better for that?