So last week I had a pretty annoying experience being on the receiving end of a marketing technique that I felt was very poorly timed. (I’m not going to name names of the caller or his company.)
My employer uses Silverpop for email marketing. I was doing some troubleshooting as I’m semi-new to the platform and was having a pretty rough time with their support portal. Before thinking of finding a 1-800 number for the company and calling it, I went on the Online Complaint Engine (that is to say, “Twitter”) and groused about their support.
@fontosaurus Hi Dan, sorry to see you're frustrated. Do you have a support case open already?
— IBM Silverpop (@Silverpop) August 8, 2014
The initial response from Silverpop was a little annoying, but I eventually got a ticket opened and had my issue resolved.
So where’s the shitty part?
Before I opened my ticket, the front desk called my line and said they had an “A.M.” on the line for me. When I spoke to A, he opened with (and I’m paraphrasing), “Hey, I’m calling because I understand you’re having trouble with Silverpop.”
Whuh? For a moment, I was really impressed, given that there’s no direct way to link my employer to my Twitter account. Holy shit, I thought, these Silverpop guys are on their game.
Then A said, “You should know that I’m calling from one of their competitors.”
And ruined the entire experience.
My first reaction was to be moderately annoyed. Then I was majorly annoyed — this guy inserted himself into a conversation I was initiating with one of our vendors in order to try to lure me away from the service. I very calmly informed him that the timing was very poor as I was under a deadline and trying to get issues resolved, and that I had to make that my priority.
Based on that call, my impression of the company was that my issues with Silverpop and my time were of secondary importance to selling me on their product.
I understand that timing is everything in marketing — but in this case, interrupting the discussion cycle to try to pitch your product to me is heavy-handed at best, and outright gauche at worst.
What Would Have Worked Better?
If you were calling right then, you should offer up a real solution that I can immediately apply. If you’d called me to provide technical support for a competitor’s product, I’d have sat up and taken notice (in a positive manner). If you had waited until Monday to call me and see if I’d found some sort of resolution, that would also have been great. But to interrupt my problem-solving cycle in the name of trying to get your foot in the door? Uncool.
A real-world analogy: I’m at a Subaru dealership to have repairs made to my WRX. You walk over from the Chevy dealership and try to sell me a car while I’m talking to the Subaru mechanic.
If you wouldn’t do something in the real-world, why the hell are you doing it on the Net?
Credit has to go to Andrew’s employer for having the vision to use multiple social accounts to make real-world contact with potential customers. Their timing and approach needs some work, though. Returning to the car service analogy above — the trick would have been to take down the license plates of everyone they see going through Subaru dealership, look for repeat visitors, and mail them at their addresses associated with their DMV records. Never mention the Subaru issues. Make them aware of the Chevy dealer’s existence and let their experiences with Subaru bring them in the door.
How’d they do it? Took my name and city/state off of Twitter and looked me up on LinkedIn (A.M. viewed my profile), looked up my employer on the interweebs, and then placed the call. And did it in a reasonable amount of time.
How’d things work out with Silverpop? Great. The people I talked to were incredibly professional, super-helpful, and pleasant to talk to. Can’t recommend them highly enough.