How To Lose Customers

Well, this is a bit of an interesting post.  As part of a prospecting effort for DMIdeas I have signed up for a few email newsletters, etc.  Starting last night at around 4:30PM I began receiving customer responses to an email from this particular prospect; here’s what happened:

  1. Prospect created a "group" on their own mail server called clients@PROSPECTNAME.com
  2. Prospect used a well know, and reputable, blast provider to create an email blast to their entire list.

Nothing wrong yet…but then:

  1. Prospect sends the test blast (without any personalization or opt out information) to the clients@PROSPECTNAME.com group.
  2. This "blast" of a single email is then FORWARDED by their system to the entire clients@PROSPECTNAME.com group.
  3. One of the users in the group has an auto-reply out-of-office enabled.

Still no problem…until:

  1. The FROM: address for the blast was …  Yep, you guessed it … clients@PROSPECTNAME.com.
  2. This caused that first out-of office to get sent to the entire group.
  3. Since that original email, there have been more than 150 messages from the members of the group about PROSPECTNAME‘s inability to know what they’re doing, about someone "hacking" their email and sending messages, etc…

It was an interesting view into the types of people that are in certain kinds of businesses.  Their lack of knowledge about the internet, etc.

The WORST is yet to come, however:

  1. PROSPECTNAME representative A begins to send messages to each of the respondents who’re asking to opt-out saying that they’ll be removed, but, their reply is going to the created group too…
  2. Then representative B sent out the message following the break… making things worse!

The drama continues:

  1. The email is from representative B:
    • Subject Line:  Sorry for Any Inconvenience this
    • To:  newsletter@PROSPECTNAME.com – NOT clients@PROSPECTNAME.com
    • Body:
      • "Do not forward or respond to any e-mail messages that show up in the Subject area with the following:      
         

        clients@tenpercentdown.com

         
         

        FW: James F Curley/RWS/Raytheon/US is out of   the office on business trav…

         

        S O R R Y about this technological disorder and Inconvenience!!

        (fw: Re: James F Curley/RWS/Raytheon/US is out of the office on business travel th…) Please do not open any more e-mails with this subject.

        It seems that this fellow James F Curley has some kind of forwarding address and it keeps sending e-mails back to everyone as if we are sending it. Believe me, if you are not a registered member then we do not want you to have our information. We will have this solved tomorrow with the company that is handling our e-mail system. The original e-mail only went out to people who have registered on our website and therefore agreed to receive notices and e-mails. Thank you for your patience.

        Website Security"

    • As you can clearly see, they’re lying to their customers about what is happening.
  2. Then, again at 8:30 PM they sent the same message to the appropriate distribution list.
  3. This morning at 5:00 AM representative C sent the following:
    • "Sorry; All email that went to James F Curley has been hacked and forwarded many times to our clients. We have been inundated with emails. Please don’t open anything from him as it is not from us. I think it has run its route and will stop. Email gone wild for sure. We did not create it and Curley is not a client of mine and not on our email list. Sorry, enjoy your trip. C"
    • Again a complete lie about the problem.

So, what did they do wrong?

  • They attempted to defraud their email solutions provider by sending a single email that was re-directed to their entire list.  Probably a violation of their terms of use.
  • They sent out an email to a list without clear and easy opt-out ability, clearly a CAN-SPAM violation.
  • They were unable to prevent some VERY negative feedback about their business from being seen by their entire customer base.

This is an investment company that people entrust with their money… How much of their client base have they lost?  If you figure every negative email is worth 5 (conservatively) more negative impressions, then, they lost nearly 1000 of their clients.  In a down market, this was one of the WORST possible scenarios.
What should they do now?  They need a follow-up mia-culpa campaign, executed properly, apologizing to their clients and asking them to opt-in to future communications.  Yes, that’s right, all of these people tried to opt-out, they need to confirm with them that they still want to opt-out after this CF of a "campaign."  We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.