Merge's Blog

A disappointing interaction with Kraft highlights an important component of written communication

Form letters – we all use them, mainly because it makes life easier. After all, it’s a lot simpler to “cut and paste” a canned response to questions that are asked frequently. But … and this is a big BUT … it’s VERY important to read the question first. Too bad Kraft hasn’t figured this out!

KraftI often visit the Kraft Canada site to peruse recipes, look at new products, and download coupons. The other day I attempted to print off a coupon that required a newer version of Java. But the link on the Kraft website put me into an incorrect subroutine and I couldn’t download the software and coupon I needed. I sent off an email to their technical support and received a response the next day.

Hi Merge,

Thank you for visiting http://www.kraftcanada.com.

Unfortunately, this promotion was so popular that the coupons offered were depleted.

Thank you for contacting us and please add our site to your favourites and visit us again soon!

Kim McMiller, Associate Director, Consumer Relations

Huh? Clearly Kim McMiller had sent me the Dear Coupon User letter – the same one that anyone gets when they write to Kraft asking about coupons. And it was obvious that no one had even bothered to read my email! Upon closer inspection, I discovered that Kim’s email address wasn’t even hers; it was from the very personal email address of [email protected]

So I tried again.

Kim, thanks for the “canned” response!

If you would have investigated my question a little further, you would have seen that there are still well over 8,000 of EACH of those coupons remaining online. My question had to do with a technical problem on your website, not the availability of coupons. Choosing the “Download Java” option was putting me into an incorrect subroutine on your website instead of taking me to the page where I could download the software. By accessing the Java software through a different subroutine, I was able to download the software and access the (the so-called “depleted”) coupons that I was entitled to through the First Taste program.

My “question” to you was an opportunity for you to fix a technical problem on your website. By rushing to give me a “canned” response, you not only missed a chance to fix a problem, but you also showed me exactly how much “effort” you put into responding to me. I hope this is not a reflection of how you respond to all queries made by your consumers.

Regards …  Merge Sunderji

Two days later I got another email in response.

Hi Merge,

Thank you for visiting http://www.kraftcanada.com.

We truly apologize for any inconvenience you’ve experienced. Since we cannot see your computer, we will do our best to assist you and provide several trouble shooting options, however may need more information on the problem you are having. Have you tried to download this in more than one browser? Please try using Chrome or Internet Explorer and see if that helps. : We have tested the link and it is working correctly. The link to download Java is [website link]. Before you install, please ensure that you have closed out all other programs running and any other browsers you may have open. The only program open should be the Java installation. Once that has completed you can reopen your browser and visit First Taste to download the coupon. If you continue to have issues downloading this program please go here for help: [website address].

Thank you for your patience and we hope that helps!

Thank you for contacting us and please add our site to your favourites and visit us again soon!

Kim McMiller, Associate Director, Consumer Relations

Say what? This time I got the Website User letter! Now I don’t really think that Kim McMiller responds personally to the likely hundreds of emails that arrive daily. She probably has a small army of folks whose job it is to reply to consumer queries and comments. But don’t you think it’s important to actually read the email before you fire off a response? I’d already fixed the technical problem; I said so in my email. But I got another “canned” response. Instead of taking a couple of minutes to read what I had written, someone, somewhere, used a form letter to reply. Quite frankly, it would have been better to get no response at all. And the worse part – Kim McMiller’s name is attached to every single one of those emails, including the stupid ones. I wonder if Kim knows?

I get that “form” letters save time and effort so I’m not suggesting that we do away with them completely; they can serve a very useful purpose. But read the question before you answer! So what’s happening in your organization or department? Are your folks blindly sending out information to your customers and internal clients without even determining what’s being asked? Are you sure?

So I’m very curious to hear what you think? Am I being unreasonable to expect a thoughtful response when I write to a company? Please comment below.

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