Monday, 3 March 2008

Chief Executives love their Blackberry

If you want to complain effectively these days it's a sad fact that more often than not you'll have to go to the top. Calling customer services is fine - if you have a lifetime to wait and like hanging on the phone, pressing option 1, * key, # key, any key, while getting nowhere fast. When you do get through you'll have to listen to someone reading from a script telling you (a.) how important your call is or (b.) that they'll log your call and someone will call you back (they rarely do).

But when the now ubiquitous hand-held email Blackberry device first took off Chief Executives and Senior Managers discovered something new.

Their email.
Before Blackberry (BB) most CEO's were shielded from real world contact with their customers by efficient PA's who just printed out the important stuff or forwarded it on to customer services. But once the Blackberry became the 'must have' executive accessory, Chief Executives unwittingly found themselves getting a lot closer to their customers.

Of course Chief Executives learn fast. You don't get a comfy chair on the Board, share options and the best spot in the car park otherwise. So mostly CEO's still have their PA's pass email complaints on to their executive team to deal with.

However I have discovered something recently which I've used to surprising effect.

Chief Executives can't resist reading their Blackberry email at the weekend.

I'll just say that again:

Chief Executives can't resist reading their Blackberry email at the weekend.

So if you have something you want to say to the Chief Executive of the company or organization which is driving you crazy, then Friday evening (after their PA has gone home) is the best time to email your complaint. There's a very good chance they will read it personally at the weekend, they may even - in a moment of madness - reply.

Now don't forget to tag your message asking for a 'read receipt' (With the email message open click; Tools, request read receipt). That way you can have double the fun by seeing just how late at night / early in the morning the Chief Executive was actually browsing your email (its a lonely life at the top).

This weekend I decided to bring to an end a fruitless game of telephone tag with X City Council over an erroneous council tax demand. I had telephoned them 5 times over a period of 3 weeks and 3 times they promised to call back. They never did. I didn't fancy a visit from the Bailiffs so it was time to act.

Late on Friday I emailed the Chief Executive of the X City Council. I still had to get his attention - CEO's won't read just any email - so in the subject field I wrote "Complaint about statutory duty on council tax billing enquiries/ errors." Most CEO's take the law, rules and regulators seriously (it's always worth researching what rules / laws may have been broken before you complain) so I thought I'd get his attention:
Complaint - Failure of statutory duty to respond to council tax billing enquiries / errors

Dear Mr X (Chief executive's name)
I have contacted X City Council Corporate Resources five times by telephone since 13th February attempting to resolve a billing error with the above council tax account.

Three times I have been promised I will be called back - the 13th February, the 26th February and 29th February.

I'm still waiting....

The Council has a statutory duty to deal with council tax enquiries efficiently. I do not believe that in my case this duty has been fulfilled.

Can you please look into this matter and find out what has gone wrong.

Yours sincerely,

It was 07.50 hrs on Sunday when the Chief Executive replied. Here's a council leader providing value for the constituents. It took him just 2 minutes to punch out the following reply with his thumbs....

Dear Sir
Thank you for that we will get a response back to you

So how do we know this is the actual Chief Executive of X City Council emailing from his Blackberry?

Here are the clues:

1.It's early Sunday morning
2. It's the short message so beloved of Blackberry users - try typing with your thumbs on a keyboard the size of a mobile phone...
3. There's no sign off.
4. It's cc'd to The Director of Corporate Resources.

And the proof:

5. A telephone call from a senior council official at 13.15hrs Monday completely resolving the Council's mistake which I had spent 3 weeks telephoning customer services about.

So it would appear:

Chief Executives can't resist reading their Blackberry email at the weekend.

No comments: