No Thanks!

Joanne and I are in Washington DC this week for a couple of key speaking and meeting commitments.  I noticed that there was going to be an event here in Washington DC on the Friday night while we were here that I was interested in attending.  So 23 days prior to the event I sent a message to the organization offering to help usher people to their seats, distribute programs, or whatever would be useful.  I didn’t pull some big “I’m important” card or anything – just said we would be willing to help in any way that would be useful.  I heard nothing – and frankly, I forgot I had even sent the note.  On the day of the event, I received this message in reply.


Thank you for your e-mail to Joel Osteen Ministries.  We appreciate your interest in volunteering for a Joel Osteen Ministries tour event.  To sign up, you will need to first register using the “register now” link located at the upper right corner of the website.  After registration, you will automatically be directed to the sign up page to choose a team to volunteer.  If you have previously registered, the website will not allow a second registration.  You will need to login with the username and password that was provided to you upon initial registration with the website.  If you have forgotten your password, you will need to choose the “forgot password” option located on the login page and your password will be e-mailed to you.

Thank you and God bless,

You’ve got to be kidding — no personal greeting – and then this complicated process of signing up to help?  I would have been fine if I had gotten an immediate autoresponder that just said they had all the arrangements made.  Or that they had a training session scheduled for all volunteers two weeks in advance.  But this impersonal maze of roadblocks sent on the same day as the event served nothing more than to irritate me, and to discourage me from any connection at all.

Bigger is not always better.  If getting bigger has caused you to lose a personal connection with your customers, clients, friends or congregants, you are in danger of following the pattern of Enron, WorldCom, Sears, Bear Stearns or Countrywide.  Even God’s work doesn’t get a pass for lousy customer service.

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7 Responses to “No Thanks!”

  1. Cookeville Weather Guy Says:

    WOW Dan…you are so right…talking about losing personal connection. I know they needs certain things in place to make it all work, but offered your help and got a ‘generic’ answer.

    I hope they ‘stumble’ across your post and re-look at their ‘setup’…Joel has an excellent ministry and their customer service should be excellent as well.

  2. therealmotherlode Says:

    Yeah…the email version of “You’re call is very important to us” blather. By the time I’ve listened to the 15 different options I’m so annoyed and can’t remember why I was calling in the first place. Thank you and God bless, indeed!

    Have a great trip back home tomorrow!

  3. andy Says:

    Amen brother, bigger isn’t better unless it’s better (period)! Grace shouldn’t be applied when customer service is the goal.

  4. Going Gazelle Says:

    I’m willing to bet they needed 50 volunteers. They got 60 people to say they’d show up. Then only 10 did so they had to blast out an e-mail real quick to see if they could scrounge up any last minute help.

    Lets look at this. Here’s somebody who is such a fan of your organization that they’re willing to VOLUNTEER to help your cause…. Because they are already a fan, they are a customer. Chances are this person is an ideal candidate for repeat business. Bending over backward to serve your volunteers stimulates viral marketing…..

    Hopefully somebody from the organization reads Dan’s blog post and thread….

  5. Doug Says:

    Thanks for this post Dan, this is really ironic since most large organizations achieve large status through great customer service… it’s amazing how quickly it gets pushed aside because somebody can afford the technology now.

  6. Jason V Says:

    Right on the nose!

    Our (now) previous church started to use “online registration” for every flipping thing. Was it supposed to help save people’s time? It discouraged a large number of people from signing up at all, and made the whole thing very impersonal.

    Worse yet: Weekly update e-mails. The content? Links to our “pdf files” for download. They don’t even take the 5 minutes to copy and paste events into a text e-mail for people to read. 😦

    Someday there be a renewed calling for small and personal. I hope.

  7. Fielding J. Hurst Says:

    Just reading that made my head hurt.

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