I’m halfway through dealing with Jetstar’s Customer Care, and it is highlighting to me what many companies do wrong when dealing with real people.

Single sided communication

I dislike “donotreply” email addresses. They imply that the sender is not interested in what I think. If I want to contact them, then I have to work out how to do it.

So a “donotreply” email is not communication. It’s lecturing. If you want to send me an email, then give me the ability to respond so that we can communicate.

That’s why we always have emails that give people the chance to respond. It’s not easy because many of the packages out there have a donotreply as the default, and if we have missed one, please let me know. We want to hear back from you.

But Jetstar’s Customer Care has taken it one step further- their customercare at jetstar.com returns an email informing the sender that the email box is not read by anyone. It’s a dead email account. So if you make a complaint, you get an automatic response that you can not reply to. Well, you can, but no-one will read it.

Jumping through hoops

Instead, the email states that you have to go back to the web site and send an email from there. But that’s after filling in all the information again and citing the reference number.

So my next point about customer care is that customer’s should not have to jump through hoops to receive it. Make it as simple as possible.

Timely support

I know this is a difficult one, and it’s just as hard for a large organisation as it is for a small.

But I think an “upto 15 business day” response time is a bit excessive. A company should be able to get back to a customer within a day or two, even if it is to inform them that the issue will take longer to resolve. We suspect that 15 days has more to do with letting the customer cool down or forget about the issue, rather than address it.

The mirror

It’s easy to see fault in others, but I know we are far from perfect. The lessons I’m taking from this experience are:

1. We need to ensure that customers have the opportunity to comment or complain and that this is a simple process. I think we have this covered with our “ask a question” and “contact us” forms, or our phone number shown at the top of the web site.

2. We need to respond to customers as soon as possible. Same day is ideal. Within 24 hours is probably practical. That’s the target.

3. Resolution of problems is a bit more difficult. If there’s a bug or a hardware issue it takes time to fix or get replacements. So I think a good policy is to state an expected resolution date, and then provide updates if there is anything that will impact on it.

4. Ensure that communication is two ways. Like I said, we avoid DoNotReply. Our important email addresses also go to multiple people. So if you send an email to [email protected] there isn’t just one person (who may be away) answering it. You may end up with multiple answers, but that’s better than no answer.