Clear Good Communication Is Hard Work; Taking Responsibility For Bad Communication Is Harder

An internet outfit called BigCrumbs.com sent out an email blast giving everyone on their email list a Merry-Christmas $500 gift card.  Or so it seemed.  The email “award” and the followup “apology” are a lesson in human nature (we’re all sinners, so it’s hard to say, I was wrong) and a reminder about the challenge of clear communication. 

Here’s the first email, then the (even worse!) mea culpa from their CEO.

FIRST EMAIL:

Greetings Drew,

Congratulations to our very first ‘Tis Better to Give winner, ophiraeneas.  We’re sending you a $500 American Express Gift Card!

We’re also sending you a basket of delicious holiday cookies from David’s Cookies, because what’s a holiday without goodies?

Remember, you don’t have to do anything to participate in the ‘Tis Better to Give celebration – here’s how it works:

  1. BigCrumbs members randomly selected everyday through 12/16/2011.
  2. Winners announced on the BigCrumbs forums and on our Facebook page @ http://www.facebook.com/BigCrumbsFans.
  3. Check daily to see if you’ve won.
Warmest wishes of the season from our family to yours,
BigCrumbs.com
——————————————————————————————————–
Note the you in the second sentence.  That would be me, since the email says, Greetings Drew! 
But, alas, the winner is actually ophiraeneas (lowercase o, her username on the site).  At first I thought this might be a non-profit organization supporting orphans, since I couldn’t remember why I signed up for email from BigCrumbs.com, or what they did with their lives,
The first paragraph said, “We’re sending you …”, as in me. And it looked like I would get cookies, too!
Since most everyone scans emails like this, if they read them at all, someone might easily notice they don’t have to do anything to participate.  So that statement could be another potential you-have-won clue, if you’re scanning it.  I didn’t do anything but I still won.  Hallelujah!  Tithing does, indeed, pay off!
THE SECOND EMAIL:
Greetings,

  Vince Martin, BigCrumbs CEO here. It has been brought to our attention that today’s e-mail announcing the first winner of our “Tis Better To Give” campaign was confusing. As a result, many members believed that they had won.

  We sincerely apologize for any wording that was confusing. The winner is member “ophiraeneas“, as the e-mail stated (we used her BigCrumbs User ID for privacy reasons). We truly believed that the e-mail was clear when it was crafted and it didn’t occur to us that it could be read any other way.

  This “holiday giving campaign” was my idea and I want to personally promise you that we absolutely respect all of our members. We had no intention whatsoever of misleading anyone and we regret any disappointment that the e-mail may have caused.

  We are truly doing this strictly in the spirit of giving. We don’t require anything of our members to win and it is not a marketing gimmick.

  We’ll word our winner announcements more carefully going forward. But, one way or another, we are determined to do something good for our members this holiday season! 🙂

  Warmest Regards,

  Vince Martin
CEO, BigCrumbs.com

———————————————————————————————————
The first sentence is a giveaway for the rest of the email.  It’s not contrite in spirit, but a little arrogant.  Then we get stiff and formal: “It has been brought to our attention”. Of course it was — they would never have been smart enough to realize the problem on their own.
The second paragraph gets worse.  I’m dumb, it implies, because they clearly stated the winner, (shouting it at me in bold letters).  I guess I would have figured that out, if I had been an avid reader of the Big Crumbs newsletter.
Vinny is dumb, too because he over-promises (absolutely) something he can’t deliver (respect, personally).  Maybe he meant that he makes personal respect a high value at Big Crumbs.  Yeah, I’m sure that’s what he meant.
Paragraph four is especially irritating.  Big Crumbs makes money when we buy through them and signup our friends to do the same.  But, we must surely believe they’re giving away money, “strictly in the spirit of giving”.   We must also believe that, because they don’t require anything to win, it’s not a marketing gimmick.  Of course not!  Who would have ever thought that!  Why would they even have to say that!
I’m happy about their promise for careful wording in future communication.  Certainly, it makes me want to designate them as high priority in my email filter.  I really don’t want an apology that says, “We worded it wrong; we weren’t clear; we aren’t the idiots we look like.” 
Right now, I’m going to make sure I haven’t bought stock in BigCrumbs.com.  I can forgive but I can’t forget.  It’s human nature. 

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Source: http://www.drewhayes.org/clear-good-communication-is-hard-work-taking

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This entry was published on March 13, 2012 at 7:43 am and is filed under Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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