The credit card we as a company use for a lot of services and apps expires soon, so Ian has been getting emails from companies, reminding him to update the card on file.
It’s been interesting to see the wide variety of emails and how different companies handle this routine customer service issue.
Here’s what he got from Google AdWords:
We were both struck by how, despite the literally billions of dollars Google rakes in from its AdWords customers, this email reflects a complete unwillingness to speak with those paying customers one-on-one. If you’re having trouble updating your credit card…well, too bad. Go to our help page and figure it out. But whatever you do, do NOT attempt to email us directly!
Here, I’ve highlighted what I mean:
We get that Google is a little bigger than most of us. And maybe this was a direct response to some time in history when they got seven million emails asking a question that was answered on their help page. But the fact remains, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth, doesn’t it?
How many different ways can a company tell you they don’t want to hear from you?
It wasn’t enough to just use a “noreply” email account. They dedicated their entire first and last paragraphs to outlining how important it is that you do not reply. And do they give you a real email address you can use instead, just in case you really do read all the instructions and still need help? Of course not.
They don’t even link you directly to a help page or FAQ about renewing a credit card. They just dump you on the main page of the AdWords Support site, and leave you to fend for yourself.
Hey. You. Don’t do that, OK?
Look, I don’t think this post is going to change the way Google does business. It seems to be working for them. But you’re not Google. So if you’re running a business, and you send emails like this, can I implore you not to follow Google’s example?
Chances are, you care about each and every customer who sends you money each month. When their credit cards expire, and you email them to inform them…don’t forget you’re asking them to continue sending you their money. Don’t forget they could just choose not to, and go somewhere else. Don’t forget who pays your bills.
Here’s a better idea.
Offer to help.
Chances are pretty slim that most customers will need a whole lot of help updating an expired credit card, right? But if they do, why wouldn’t you want to help them do that?
As always, the personal approach is best. Your customer has a name, and so do you. Use them.
Just be a person…standing in front of another person…asking them…to update their credit card information (Notting Hill? Anybody?).
You accept credit cards and you don’t even have an email like this? Well, I’m hoping if you made it this far down, you’ve decided it’s probably a good idea to write one. We all have our credit cards in so many places that most of us will miss one or two when it comes time to renew an expired card. Don’t let your business be the one that gets forgotten. So go remind your customers about this little necessity. Just, you know…be nice about it.
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