Why send six letters when one will do
I recently moved into a new office in Winchester, much to the delight of my family who, for the first time in years, have the house to themselves (“Homeworking sucks!”). I’m happy, too, because at last I have a half-decent broadband service: it’s not as good as my Mum’s in London, but it’s miles better than what was on offer in the sticks. Getting the service connected wasn’t easy – my first order was lost in the system – but BT has made up for it since with a blizzard of mail.
At a time of rising postal costs and the electronic substitution of mail, BT’s enthusiastic letterwriting throws up some important questions, such as: at what point does good customer communications become an ‘Oh what now!’ nuisance factor?; how quickly does admiration for the efficiency of an organisation’s business processes turn into suspicion that nothing is properly integrated after all; and how soon does the customer (or shareholder) calculate the cost of all this waste and start wondering who’s actually paying for it? For me, BT crossed the line after the fifth or sixth letter.
My beef with BT is not that it was sending out letters rather than electronic messages (though it must be said that some could have been dealt with by SMS, which BT makes good use of to communicate with domestic customers). Rather, it was that the content of six letters could easily have been collated and sent in one envelope. Doing so would have saved money, reduced carbon emissions and made things simpler for the customer. All worthy aims for any business.