Tuesday, August 10, 2010

People and Technology

Technology can help your business communication, but you have to have the right people managing it.

Last month I used a trip to the dentist to illustrate how no matter what business you are in, you can use the technology tools of today to connect with your customers.

Click here to read it.

Today, I've got an update.

Last week I got an email from my dentist as part of their new email initiative:

(I replaced his name with "My Dentist" and am protecting his street address too)

My Dentist, DDS
XXXX East State Blvd
Fort Wayne, IN 46815

Dear Kathleen Howard,

Every day more exciting and important information is being communicated electronically via the Internet. In the future, My Dentist, DDS would like to communicate with you via email, which will enable you to receive teeth cleaning reminders, schedule your next appointment online, confirm your scheduled appointments online and receive money saving specials. My Dentist, DDS would like your permission for the privilege to serve you more efficiently and conveniently via email.

If you would like to be part of this convenient online program, you do not need to take any additional action. If you prefer not to have My Dentist, DDS contact you via email, please see instructions at the bottom of this message, and your name will then be deleted from our emailing lists immediately.

We appreciate your business and look forward to seeing you soon.


Your friends at My Dentist, DDS

The first problem is they used my wife's name, not mine. They sent it to my email account, not my wife's.

Very few families have "Family Email Accounts".

We have individual email addresses. Email is not like regular mail. If you address something to my home address, whoever gets the mail sorts it and gives it to the appropriate person.

The next problem is the content of this email along with the subject line which read, "My Dentist requests your permission."

I already gave permission last month at the dentist office when I gave you my email address.

And the content is written in a non-friendly, almost legalese style that does not reflect the nature of my dentist and his staff, whom I characterize as fun and competent. Yeah, my dentist is fun!

So what went wrong?

They need to make sure the people using the technology understand how to use it instead of just filling in the blanks in the email template without considering the recipient.

At the radio stations where I work, we recently fired someone who did her job pretty good.

Not perfect, but it seemed okay.

Turns out pretty good wasn't good enough.

Problems started cropping up because she was in charge of inputting data into computers and following specific guidelines.

She had the "Google approach". Google is forgiving, it helps you with spelling errors, makes suggestions, etc.

Our computer systems require perfection.

I discovered 6 mistakes that were made in one day, and I'm not even trained to work in that area, I just know how to check for errors.

So, use technology, but make sure the folks you put in charge know how to use it, and care enough to do it right.

By the way, that is NOT a picture of my dentist!


  1. I called out State Farm last year for telemarketing me with an offer for my area (already a customer, should have checked that call list!). Just wasted effort and money.

    Too many businesses, large and small, take this automated "set it and forget it" approach and put their investment in the technology but not the talent.

    A simple well-written email can be such an effective marketing tool, if done correctly. Just takes someone who knows how, plus a little smart strategy right?

  2. Thanks for your story Davina.

    I have a Realtor whom I used to sell my last house who sends me a letter every month or so.

    It's a form letter, and even though it is personalized with my name, I really don't need it. She is the only Realtor I recommend anyway.

    Email, or regular mail can be used much more effectively if people listen to their own inner voices and take a human approach instead of following a formula that turns the recipients into a generic mass!