If you invite email enquiries, make sure you respond

If you’re not prepared to answer email enquiries, don’t invite them on your website.

Earlier this week, I submitted an email enquiry to Multichoice about whether subscribing to just MNet was still a possibility. Despite a growing array of DStv bouquets, there’s no mention of good old fashioned MNet (and the ‘Buy MNet’ link on the MNet website is just a link to the DStv site). This is actually the second email I’ve sent (I sent a similar query some time ago, but didn’t follow up).

Multichoice might ask why I didn’t follow up with a phone call if I didn’t get a response. It’s not a particular priority of mine to subscribe – even less so, after experiencing their non-responsiveness – but, more to the point, I’d refer them to the first line of this post. Why set up an email address for enquiries or webform if you don’t have the capacity or the system to respond to those queries?

The DA’s approach

DA webmail automatic response

I don’t pretend that the DA is perfect in this regard, but we do have a system in place to try and ensure that every email receives a prompt response.

First, if you fill in a webform on the DA website, you get the automated response pictured to the left. Okay, it’s automated, I hear you cry; but it is still reassuring to get that instantaneous response. It also offers two additional avenues for staying informed about the DA’s work. And it’s more than multichoice offers.

Second, the person administering the webmail identifies the appropriate person to respond to the query and fires it off to them. She also generally replies to the email to say that it has been forwarded to the relevant spokesperson for a response, and inviting a follow-up email if they do not receive that response timeously (our user generated monitoring system 🙂 ).

The third response, which sometimes takes a little more time, is the answer to the query from the relevant spokesperson.

It’s not perfect but, even if an MP is tardy in responding to a query, the person who submitted the question shouldn’t feel ignored. The DA values its supporters, and we want to turn undecided voters into supporters. Why would we ignore them when they initiate a conversation with us.

I’m not sure Multichoice is as concerned with turning me into a subscriber (or keeping me as a subscriber, if I was one)

A marketing opportunity

In my email, I not only asked about subscribing to MNet; I also asked whether Multichoice would be making an MNet equivalent bouquet (including the programming broadcast on CSN) available on DStv.

I suggested that, besides growing their market share in the middle income market, it made sense to get current MNet Subscribers (I’m sure there are still quite a number) to switch to the DStv system at a nominal increase in subscription fees, because it offered the scope to market add-ons to them. As long as they remain on the obsolete technology, there’s no potential for growing income through value added.

Considering Multichoice are a couple of months away from competition from other pay TV providers, you’d think they’d pay more attention to their potential customers.

A quick Update – 16 April 2008

Yesterday, I finally received a reply to my webform query from Multichoice – a month after I submitted it. They apologised for the “delayed response” but offered no explanation. They’re also not planning to move MNet Subscribers across to the DStv system (unless they sign up for the full bouquet at nearly twice the price). I think it’s a missed opportunity to add value and grow their customer base.

It’s a pity they’re still the only choice on offer.


1 Response to “If you invite email enquiries, make sure you respond”

  1. 1 Sandra van den Berg 20 March 2008 at 1:08 pm

    I totally agree with you. You should try sending an enquiry to Nedbank – after three website enquiries – no replies, I had to phone them. It was extremely frustrating and I would hate to think a potential voter ever felt that way about the DA.

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