Monday, June 25, 2012

The Faux Personal Touch

Once upon a time I bought a dress at a nearby boutique.  I had a coupon (one of those local group discount type things) and since it was attached to my email, I gave them my email address.  They sent me a thank you for my purchase.  A week later they were having a trunk sale featuring the designer that had made the dress I purchased.  They sent one (one!) email letting me know that since I had purchased a dress by this person I might want to check out the trunk sale.  (I did.)
Recently I sent an email to a company about removing me from their paper catalog list. I can't think of the last time I ordered something from a paper catalog rather than perusing online and these things are cluttering my mailbox.  I didn't try to take myself off the email list, just the catalogs.  I have tried with this company before and got myself bumped down to special sales only.  My email contained my name and address and my wish.  This is the response I received, with all identifying information removed. 

"Dear Tara,

Thank you, so much, for taking the time to contact us.  You have asked how to opt out of our coupons and mailings.  It is my privilege to respond to you personally.

I am happy to inform you that you may add or remove your information online to receive our store coupons. Please click on the link below.

[Link that takes me to a site that asks for my name and address and if I want to be added or removed from their communications.]

This information is updated in our systems once per month.  Depending on the date of the last update, it may take up to 60 days for your information to be reflected on our list.  You will also need to activate your request by providing this same telephone number and e-mail address during your next store purchase.    

Tara, you've chosen [Company Name]. We think of that as a privilege. So, if there's anything more we can do for you, please e-mail or call us any time.


[Name of Service Rep]"

Now here's the thing.  Call me cynical but I believe that a person wrote this just for me about as much as I believe in bi-partisanship.  I'm sure someone wrote this at some time.  And I understand the value of having, as they like to say in the corporate world, a consistent message.  But this is about as personalized as a pre-printed Comic Sans fonted sticky note.  Yes, it provides the information I asked for.  I could even possibly uncranky myself to say, perhaps they are so bombarded by people trying to get off their mailing list that they have a link because using their actual employees to do that would take too long.  So now, I have to re-provide the information and then wait to see if it really works.  (I am totally ignoring this crap about providing this information to the next cashier.  Not gonna happen.) 
So, what's my point?  This pretend personal email has made me more cranky than a plain old - hey, to get yourself off the list, click here would have.  That would have annoyed me.  But this annoys me more because it pretends to address my needs and still makes me do all the work.  This is not personal service.  Making me re-provide previously provided information is, in fact, impersonal.  Don't insult me by pretending it's not.