Most companies try hard to communicate well with customers. I had a recent experience of a business trying hard–and yet not hard enough–to communicate with me in email.
Here is the story: I had a reservation at a nice hotel, and I wanted to schedule a massage in the hotel spa. I emailed the reservation desk, as directed on the hotel website. I requested a massage and gave my preferred date and time for the service. I sent my email at 2:06 p.m.
At 2:07 p.m. I received a response. That was fast! However, it was only an email telling me I would get a response promptly. The 375-word email included information about the wonders of staying at the hotel, where I already had a reservation.
At 2:23 p.m. I received a reply letting me know that a massage time slot was available one hour later than I had requested. It stated, "If you would like to reserve the spa treatment, please contact our reservations department." It was signed by Reservations, Spa and Hotel.
At 2:28 I replied, saying that yes, I would like to have a massage at the time offered. I asked, "Do I need to do anything besides sending you this email?" It would have been efficient to get instructions in the recent email from Reservations, but I did not mind asking.
At 2:28, immediately after I sent my reply, I got the 375-word email letting me know I would soon get a reply.
At 2:29 I got a message from a real person whom I will call Melissa. Melissa said she would be happy to reserve a massage for me. She just needed my room confirmation number or my credit card. She was very polite.
At 2:34 I replied with my reservation number.
At 2:34 I got the 375-word email letting me know I would soon get a reply.
At 2:38 I got email confirmation from Melissa that my massage was scheduled.
Did I need all those messages from the hotel? No! However, it would have been helpful to get instructions or reminders from the spa. For example, if Melissa had suggested I bring a swimsuit, I would have been able to enjoy the spa pools while I was there. I had not thought about that.
I would describe this email exchange as customer service overdone and underdone. What is your view?
For tips on writing to customers, please read my current issue of Better Writing at Work. You may subscribe here.