For one of my several email accounts, I use EarthLink. I've generally had good service with them. But the content in the EarthLink customer service messages make me want to scream. This is not the way to market with content.
I have a pre-payment plan that allows me to save money by paying for a year in advance. The period was near expiration, so I got a message with these instructions:
*** Your prepayment plan will be expiring soon ***
Renew by contacting Customer Service at email@example.com.
So I sent an email as directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is what came back from EarthLink:
Thank you for contacting EarthLink,
We received your email on 4/6/05, however in order to better serve you EarthLink only accepts replies to outbound email messages or new messages created by completing our online email form. To ensure that your inquiry is handled by an EarthLink representative we ask that you resubmit your request using our online email form which you can access using the "support by email" link on your personal start page, or, by inserting the following URL in your web browser:
Using this form will help us direct your email to the right department so that we can provide you with an accurate and timely response.
So I had to go through a rigmarole with all sorts of drop down menus, none of which offered me the option to "renew my pre-payment plan".
Communicating with customers via email is a great way to build loyalty and sell more services. But the content needs to be right. All automatic email messages (as the ones from EarthLink obviously were) need to be checked and re-checked by humans to make certain that the information in them is accurate and makes sense.
Don't ever make your most valuable customers (those who pay up front, in advance, for long-term contracts) jump through hoops to do business with you! Check your email messages to make sure they are friendly and accurate.