October 28, 2008

"We have an open door policy"

I was trying to get in touch with the HR manager at a particular company recently. I emailed the general email address stating why. I asked if I could please have their name, email and phone number. I received the following response:
Dear Allison, Unfortunately we are unable to assist you as the information you have asked for is sensitive and we are not able to share it outside of the organisation. I am sorry we are unable to assist you in this endeavour, however should you require assistance with another matter please feel free to contact us. Kind regards, Customer Care Representative

There is a time and place for this type of response I’m sure – i.e. if I was trying to sell them a vacuum cleaner or ‘enhancement’ pills. Luckily for me and them, I am not in those businesses! Yet the person I wanted to make contact with was ‘off limits’ and ‘untouchable’. Before I bothered pausing and letting out a sigh, I wandered my person over to google, and within a few seconds had the info I wanted and made contact.

Admittedly I DID want to email customer service back and bleat on about approachability and also tell them I’d had about 30 other companies respond with all the info I’d asked for without any drama. I wouldn’t have minded also slipping in the fact that I’d found the details in two seconds on google. But decided I’m far too grown up to do such ‘tongue poking’. I also thought this may invoke a response of “well why didn’t you do that in the first place?!” I knew the person on the end of the email was simply following instructions.

I was surprised that companies are still sending out this message of “you are not worthy enough” to gain contact with our managers. I of course know about email overload and spam, but plenty of other companies seem quite happy giving this “sensitive information outside the organisation”. They make their managers available to those who ask. I hope the companies that don’t aren’t the same ones that say “we are consumer driven”. If consumers aren’t allowed to talk to you, you are not consumer driven!

Many companies are still guilty of doing this internally. Not allowing staff to speak up about what and to who they want. Imagine giving the above email response to a staff member – how grossly unimportant they would feel. It may as well be rewritten as “since you are only a staff member you are not of enough significance to speak to the executives. Your ideas, thoughts or concerns are without consequence. Please go back to your desk”.

Open door policies have to be TRULY companywide to be successful. Companies that want to become disgustingly successful don’t keep anything ‘off limits’ – to consumers or staff. All cards on the table is the ticket. That’s why we have so many avenues to share: blogs, twitter, email, intranets, newsletters, meetings, instant messaging etc….. No secrets, no hierarchy’s just pure truth and fun!

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