Email customer service

May I rant?

Many organizations offer email customer service.  The problem is that the service is generally crap. Here’s why.

Slow response.  Most places respond immediately to an email, with “we received it, but we’ll deal with it later.”  For example, Express-scripts says

All inquiries are handled on a first-come,first-served basis and most are responded to within 24 – 72hours.

Useless answers.  Yesterday I tried to use the secure email at UBS.COM.  The service has no way to originate a message and no apparent way to reply to a document.  (I had to print and sign something and send it back.)  The eventual reply was Windows specific and told me to use the new online signing feature of Acrobat, which I don’t have.

The useless answer problem is really a symptom of email being open loop.  With a telephone call or online chat you can have an exchange to zero in on the actual problem and any constraints.  With email this usually doesn’t work.

When offered, I try to use online chat these days.  You don’t have to actively listen to badly designed telephone hold systems, the exchange is interactive, and best of all, you can get a written record of what happened, when any promises are made.