If you are going to have a "contact" link on your site, answering your e-mail would be appropriate

Someone owes me a bottle of wine (you know who you are); a nice one. Since the person has to ship it to me anyway, I thought I'd try something different and do some research. I've bought from wine.com before. So I do some searches and nothing jumps out at me so I  decide look at their employee recommendations page. Clearly Pinot Noir is the popular wine (darn you Paul Giamatti), but I already have some Pinot's I like and living in the PNW (that's the Pacific Northwest...yikes, am I becoming the Rachel Ray of blogging?), we get our share of that here. At the bottom of the page, there's a link to e-mail their wine buyer, so I did....about 2 weeks ago. Sent a mail asking for a recommendation including price range, varieties I'd like to try and flavors I enjoy. Not one single peep from wine.com. And you'd think a wine buyer would be able to rattle off some recommendations lickety-split.

Seriously, doesn't a contact link on a page (especially on an eCommerce site) do more harm than good if you don't actually respond?

Comments (23)

  1. Patblue says:

    I can’t get into the Pinot Noir, I have tried and tried. A huge Merlot fan, even after Sideways. Maybe Mariah could help you out if wine.com doesn’t respond???

  2. Wine-Oh says:

    I enjoy wine too, and would think that it would be in their best interest to get back to you. Even if its to pass you along to someone else if they cant help. Its called customer service. Because of not hearing back, one would be less likely to return to the site to buy anything, and go to a competing company. Even an automated e mail saying “thank you for your e mail, yadda yadda….” would suffice. I agree with your posting. We’ll said. When i did E-commerce for a music label, I acknowledged all e mails, even if it said let me get back to you with more information. Customers want that interaction. Ok I am jumping off my soap box now.

  3. HeatherLeigh says:

    PatBlue- OK, that’s funny. I don’t think she can, really. I like merlot with food but it is a little uninteresting by itself (I know…I’m one of them…I hate myself right now).

    Wine-oh…love the screen name!

  4. Patblue says:

    you could give Rachel Ray a run for her money. Perhaps a second career for you one day.

  5. Gary says:

    Does the same hold true for requested emails?

    A few months ago a request was posted on an MS blog asking if people were interested in positions on 2 teams. The post asked people to send their resume. I didn’t submit my resume but instead I sent an email that was pretty detailed and asked a few questions about what the positions were and generally tried to get more information.

    I did not receive any response from that email so I sent them again. I have not received any response to this day, about 2 months have past.

    Now it is possible that they were not interested based on my information but I would have expected at least an email response saying thanks but no thanks.

  6. HeatherLeigh says:

    PatBlue-Noooo!!!!!! That whole cute and perky thing drives me nuts! "E-V-O-O"….arrggh!

  7. Wine-Oh says:

    I have to agree with Gary. I applied for a position at Microsoft, got through the first few rounds. I was then called and told that I didnt make the next round. Fine no prob. Better things will happen I thought. When I asked for information only so I could learn from the experience and better my self (is there anything so bad about learning from an experience?) I was told it was policy not to reveal anything about the process, or any feedback recieved. They couldnt discuss why. Oh well. Time to open some Pinot Grigio and relax.

  8. Bill says:

    It’s been a while, but I had some great customer service from wine.com in helping me hunt down a rare chateauneuf du pape.

    Oh what to do…my wife loves Rachel Ray and all her perkiness and EVOO comments. Me? Not so much. I’d much rather watch Giada 😉

  9. The answer to your question is a resounding “Yes, if you have a contact email and you receive email at it, then you must respond”. In fact, I would submit that email should be returned with the same etiquette as phone calls, namely within twenty-four hours or less. The goal is to have contact with your customer base, since in most service companies this is the basis of whether a customer returns or not. It’s interesting that they would blow off any customer or prospective customer, since this experience has now been passed on to numerous others. Consider how effective the press would be if you blogged about the quick response of these folks instead. The reality is that every business needs a contact phone # and email on their website AND they need to use them as effective customer service and response tools. This would serve 1000 times greater purposes than all the glossy ads put together.

  10. HeatherLeigh says:

    Gary-yes, if it was a person’s e-mail and a person’s blog, you deserve a reply, even if it’s just a "thank you but…" reply.

    Wine-Oh, I’ve heard that comment from people before and I’ve heard recruiters say that reason. When I was recruiting directly, I let people know why. Sometimes it was as simple as "they found another candidate that they felt was a better match for the role" or "they decided to go with an internal candidate". I do agree with you that if you move through the process (to the phone screen), yuo deserve and answer and a reason. Other recruiters might disagree with me, but that’s just my opinion. It’s like treating a candidate like a customer and I’m all about that.

    Bill-I like Giada too, but did you ever notice that everything is "perfect". Check how many times she uses that word. My favorite is Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa)…I find her stuff un-fussy.

    Jonatha-good points. And exactly the reason I respond to every pice of mail I get that isn’t spam or something inappropriate (you’d be surprised at some of the stuff I get).

  11. Wine-Oh says:

    Thanks Heather!

    Yes you would think that after being through put the ringer, grilled and served on a plate, there would be more explination. It is customer service after all, just as you say. I just dont buy the statement “Its company policy not to reveal anything.” Im an adult, I can take it. Criticism makes me stronger.

    Then again from a company standpoint, they dont want the interviewee going postal if something really bad is said. The recruiter (who was from an outside firm, for the record) said it was Microsoft’s policy as of a year ago not to give feedback. Is this true? Yet at the same time he told me Microsoft could be calling about other positions. Sounded like a canned written answer that he was reading to me, becuase hwen I pressed for more information he sounded like he wanted to get off the phone.

  12. Bill says:

    Yea, Ina Garten is very good in that unfussy way. She seems. Of course, all these folks are good, but Alton is clearly the best, IMHO. He just rocks in his geeky, cheesy production values way.

  13. Tim says:

    Heather, I’ve been thinking about customer service a lot lately (after having terrible customer service myself with both America West and Wine Country Gift Baskets).

    I agree with you that you probably shouldn’t put anything up there you have no intention of responding to. But don’t you think it’s one of those Marketing manuevers that makes the company look worse in the end? Every company wants to say “We have great customer service”, but can every employee provide that great experience? I think when a company doesn’t put that at top priority they have a serious problem. (Which, lets face it, is where a lot of health care providers are.) How about a supervisor for a company who candle handle any and all unhappy customers? Then you could see whether it’s just a customer who is having a bad day (month, year), or if you have a customer service rep who is not doing their job well.

    I don’t know if I’m picky, but when I have terrible customer service, I NEVER go back to that place. And when I have great customer service, I’m their biggest word-of-mouth promoter.

    Ow, I just fell off my soapbox and hit my head.

  14. Neal says:

    It’s the right thought, to always answer the emails that come in through your website, but its challenging on the implementation side. I don’t think an auto-responded email is what I’d be looking for – so there needs to be some human reviewing the answers.

    Two thoughts – if you have a hotmail account and forget your password to the account – have you ever tried trying to find out what you’re password actually is without having access to that email account – the ‘we’ll automatically email you your password’ won’t work because it sends an email to an account you can’t get to. This is a not-so-easy problem to solve – but, I got a response back in a day with a list of 7 things that I needed to provide before hotmail would send my password to an alternative email address – when all was said in done – a pretty complicated problem. I dealt with two different email representatives which meant that each of them had to know what the other was up to in order to process this correctly – so not a bad job – and worth repeating the same formula.

    Second – try finding out if you should use Voice-Over-IP or a standard phone service through ATT’s ‘help & contact us’ page and you’ll get a different story. I’ve not tried – but how does the front page of Microsoft compare?

    I’d say that when customer support is done right – companies make a lot of money….www.godaddy.com provided incredible phone support and I’ll never switch hosting providers again…

  15. Mark Tookey says:

    Just wanted to reassure Tim that he’s not alone in refusing to go back to places that offer terrible customer service. I have a mental list of places that have let me down with shoddy service, and I never go to them unless I absolutely have no choice. CompUSA is my absolute no-go, after I was sworn at by a store manager for the “impertinence” of being disapointed they had sold to someone else an item I had already paid for over the phone and was coming in to collect…

    Oh, and Heather is the email answerer supreme, no matter what rubbish you send her!!



  16. HeatherLeigh says:

    Oh no, Mark! Don’t encourage them to behave as you do! ; ) Mark thinks it’s OK to stick a screw driver into a live outlet. (Hee!)

    I have a mental list too. I will NEVER, EVER, give any kind of business to Amtrack (worst experience!). Also, there

    is a Toyota dealership in Kirkland where the salesman told me "4% and 5% interest are basically the same thing"…goodbye! And a much trafficked Microsoft lunch destination, The Bento Box, will never again get my business…the worst service ever! Funny how you remember that stuff.

    Neal-you are right, it’s hard to do well but if you can, it’s a competitive advantage. If you can’t, you definitely shouldn’t offer it on your website and the more customers and markets you serve, the harder it is to pull off.

  17. Mark Tookey says:


    Now don’t go giving everyone the wrong impression about me! I don’t stick screwdrivers into outlets deliberately, it just happens because I’m clumsy…


  18. eoft says:

    I seem to remember some research being done in the UK that looked at customer service issues, and response to customers email requests for information – unsurprisingly it was the biggest companies that did poorest with many, as in your experience, not even bothering to respond to basic requests for information.

    Smaller companies, if I remember aright, did better, presumably because they try harder?

  19. Paul J says:

    Heather I completely agree you should treat prospective recruits with the same courtesy as customers. In fact they actually might be customers. I know instances when customers or indirect customers get very upset when their calls to the corporation for a job results in "we dont want to talk to you look online". Other than possibly B2B companies it’s very plausible people that are interested in the company are led by their interest and patronage of the company’s products and services.

  20. TC Loy says:

    Mark – I love wine but your incident with the screw driver captured my interest. Can you give your version of the incident? The live outlet is usually not big and easily stumbled into.

    Patblue – Just join the blog a week ago. I should actually be finding out more about Microsoft from Heather. Alas, I got diverted by bread and wine. but these are excellent diversions. We need those in life. Pinot Noir…I have just started with them. I usually stick with Merlot and other reds. I was in Burgundy (Bourgoyne) …drove through Rue Grand Cru. stole a couple of grapes from a vineyar. The majority of grapes there are for Pinot Noir. to top it off, my friends in a nearby town wine and dine me.

    To sum it up, I have been inspired to try more Pinot Noir.

    Heather – Met a Microsoftmanager in a company presentation at Drexel University. he seen my resume and want to interview me. He forwarded my resume to a recruiter for SMS & P. But that contact has not called me or emailed me back yet even though I left messages. It is rather unusual. I am in PA and the HR contact was in DC. This was back in September 2005. oh well..at this point, I am adopting Wine-oh’s approach and breaking open a bottle.

    Wine-oh…Aside from the Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio, there are the Chilean wines…I like Concho Y Toro and Xplorador.

    A votre sante

  21. HeatherLeigh says:

    TC-I’m not sure if Mark will come back here to see the comment, but I believe he was changing an outlet cover with a screw driver and didn’t turn off he eletricity at the circuit becase he didn’t think he needed to (tip: he needed to because he stuck the screw driver into the box and touched a live wire…youch!).

    If you want me to send your resume directly to the recruiter for SMS&P, forwrd it to me. I don’t mind doing that.

    Sounds like you know a lot about wine! Im jealous of your travels!

  22. TC Loy says:

    Heather – not a whole lot about wine. began to savour wine after I spend two months in France.  My roommate is also making wine in the basement. not bad. of course those at the store are much better. oh…California wines are also really good. Like Mondavi.

    I will send you my resume and a cover letter. I looked at the codes  you gave for corporate market research positions in  previous blogs. they don’t work. that blog was a while ago.

    hey…do you have a blog on this website on travels? hmmm…I am going to surf around and look for those. you just re-ignite my travel bug. well…have to blame you for something since we are already acquainted. 🙂

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