Hiding from Consumers

As I have written before, transparency is the new buzz word in social media for companies.  What information and how much they share with their customers and competitors is definitely up for debate.  But with this trend and all the social media activity we see, I was shocked when  I came across 2 companies there were actively avoiding contact with customers.  I can only wonder how much loyalty and revenue they are losing because they do not listen.

Here are my 2 sad examples:

TCF Bank

I was riding the bus past their River North location and noticed an attractive interest rate sign in their window.  But the print was too small, so I couldn’t see the details.  When I went to search for a phone number to contact that branch, I could not find one.  The only number was a central 800 number.  Even the White Pages do not show the local branch numbers.

It took 2 tries to get through the maze of their voice automated system to get a human being.  And then she could not tell me which branches were participating and put me on endless hold while she tried to find out.  She also refused to give out the local number (“We’re not allowed to.” she told me).

For the life of me, I cannot figure out why TCF would hide the branch number.  Why not encourage a relationship with the local staff?  Banking has become a commodity – why not try using your people to gain some loyalty?  It is not like there are customers lined up down the block to get service.   When I arrived to find out more details and sign up, the bank was empty and 3 bankers were standing around talking to each other.   After signing up, my local banker agreed to give me her card so I could contact her if I had an issue.  But if I hadn’t asked, she probably not have given it to me.  Such an easy change and they are totally missing it.

Aldi Food Stores

As my friends and readers know, I love a good discount.  So I have become an Aldi shopper.  The food quality can be hit and miss, but the deals make it worth the risk to try something new.  I happen to like their yogurt.  But at my local Aldi, they do not stock a blueberry flavor.  In March, when I asked the check out person if they could request a new flavor, she told me “They don’t listen to us.  You will have to contact them directly.”

When I searched the Aldi website, I could not find an email address or phone number.  Since the day I tried to contact them, they have added an email address and a mailing address, but still no phone numbers.  I had to search the White Pages to find a local corporate location.  And when I called, no one answered.  I had to leave a voice mail and wait for them to call me back the next day.

So while Aldi is slowly moving their way into ’90’s by adding an email address, they are losing 2 great opportunities to connect.  One by listening to their store personnel and making them feel empowered to listen and respond to customers.  And two, by making it easier for the corporate folks to listen to consumers and possibly grow revenue by responding to their ideas.

In both of these cases, I eventually spoke with someone who could listen – but they were powerless to change the situation.  I definitely have a poor impression of these companies and am disappointed that it was such a hassle to deal with them.  I am hesitant to give my loyalty to a company that doesn’t value the consumer’s voice as part of their everyday procedures.  And I think others will feel the same way.

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