Walk the Talk, Dude

November 20th, 2009

Of all the really true truisms, one of the truest is that it’s easier to give advice than to follow it. But watching someone prove it big time can really stick in your craw.

So I won a trivia contest on Twitter. The prize? Free access to a very attractive Webinar sponsored by a publisher of communications resources that shall go unnamed. I was psyched. Crossed Fingers-796261

The CEO, who’d run the contest, sent me a direct message via Twitter asking for my contact info. I did:


From: Deb Arnold [deb@debarnoldink.com]

Sent: Wednesday, November 11, 2009 2:06 PM


Subject: FW: Direct message from [NW]

Hi [NW],

Thanks for holding the contest. I’m excited about the [ABC] seminar.

Will you be giving away any more spots at the [XYZ] conference? Wish I could come but just can’t swing it (lean times, as you know, especially for us solo practitioners).

My contact info is below. FYI, I’m already on your mailing list as Deb Arnold Strategic Communications – Deb Arnold, Ink. is my new DBA.

Thank you again. I enjoy your resources, and you provide a very important service to communications professionals in all that you do.




His next e-mail was a shocker to this communications professional:


From: [NW]

Sent: Wednesday, November 11, 2009 12:13 PM


Cc: deb@debarnoldink.com

Subject: FW: Direct message from [NW]

Can you please comp Deb Arnold to the [ABC] webinar. She is one of the winners of the last Twitter contest.


P.S. Also, can you update her info in our database. Thx………………………………….

He did not reply to me.

Now, maybe I’m just extra-sensitive. Or a cheap clod for asking about another freebie (nb: XYZ conference is a whopping $1,395). But it made me do a double-take that a self-proclaimed communications guru would neglect the basics:

–          Respond to the e-mail

–          Answer the question

–          Acknowledge the compliment

This seems particularly egregious given that I’d said I was on his mailing list, signaling a long-term relationship. Also, had he looked me up (you know, so he’d know who he was talking to), he would have known I am a paying member of his organization. I guess my annual fee doesn’t include good manners.

It wouldn’t be so bad if it were the first time. But I’d also e-mailed [NW] after meeting him at a seminar he’d led. I complimented the program, told him I’d attend an upcoming conference (paying customer x2) and asked whether they’d consider a small business discount. I’m from New York: You don’t ask, you don’t get. No reply.

And in February, in response to repeated requests for links from readers, I e-mailed an article link to the managing editor about a Congressman who had tweeted an Iraqi security breach. No reply.

We’re all busy. But if Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, had time to thoughtfully respond to an e-mail from me, surely someone not busy selling a billion dollar company to Amazon can hit Reply, too. Especially if he’s, like, a communications expert.

The real irony? That seminar was on social media, and [NW] himself warned that these days, companies that give lame customer service can expect to read about it on the Internet. I decided to be kind and not “out” him. I’ll cancel my membership instead. That would be me walking my talk.

Look for an upcoming post on the opposite extreme: the most courteous customer service e-mail I have ever received – from Volkswagen.

    • Rosie Sennett said:
    • Astonishing really, since he could have answered you directly and CC’d his lackey… who would have known to update the database and comp you… and you would not have been insulted.



    • Don Lewis said:
    • Deb: This doesn’t surprise me at all. Unfortunately, this type of customer service is all too common. I’ve written several times recently on my blog about great customer service from Southwest Airlines, and I always send a note to their customer service folks recognizing the extra effort. Perhaps that is why Southwest’s ridership was up 11% in November!! In any event, I agree that unjoining the organization should send a message–but I bet you don’t even get a followup e-mail asking “Why?”. -Don


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