End the Corporate Hide and Seek…


*Voice over bullhorn*

Attention all Managers, Corporate Communications Officers, Heads of Department, CEO’s, and other Executives: WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU HIDING FROM????

Am I the only person that thinks this inaccessible corporate persona is getting really old? Am I alone in wondering why executive agents in the tower offices of New Kingston feel it necessary to hide behind the skirt tails of robotic, semi-literate secretaries? Does anyone else feel that in this information age, where new innovations abound, that there should be a revolution in the way Caribbean people do business with each other?

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WHY is it still so difficult to get a hold of a manager or executive of commercial entities that,ironically enough, rely heavily on consumer interaction? WHY do many company websites still provide only a contact form that gets sent to some auxiliary office instead of actual contact information so customers can get a hold of a human being? WHY do I still have to sit through a half hour of voice automated answering machine options before I get transferred to an empty desk? WHY do I still have to lie to secretaries and assistants in order to get a simple email address and contact info for their managers? WHY do I have to wait DAAAAAYYYYYSSSSSSSS before I can get a response from a “Communications Department” regarding simple business-related inquiries?

*Pulls pin from grenade*

COME OUT FROM UNDER YOUR DESKS AND TALK TO PEOPLE!!!!!

Somehow we manage to forget that human-to-human relations and basic communication are the things that drive the success of any business. Somehow the titles we achieve become blinders and we remove ourselves from access to the public. It’s as if there’s a quarterly audit done of a manager’s inaccessibility to determine his value to the company. The more difficult you are to reach, the more work you’ve probably been doing, thus the more productive you are.

Those of you who know me or are familiar with the blog will have guessed by now that this rant was inspired by my recent frustrations in trying to contact the General Managers, Communication Managers and Marketing Managers of various offices in corporate Jamaica. I’ll provide just one example of my experience (mostly because I’ll have an aneurysm if I have to relive more than one). So I made a call to a popular restaurant, identified myself by name and the company I was calling from and asked if I can have the name and business email address of their Marketing Manager. Here’s the madness that ensued:

Lady: May I ask what this is in relation to?

Me: I’m actually calling on behalf of my Marketing Manager. I was asked to get the information.

Lady: Why?

Me: Why my manager wants to contact your manager? Well he doesn’t really need to clear that stuff with me so I’m not entirely sure. I imagine he wishes to discuss some sort of business.

Lady: What kind of business?

Me: What Kind of business?… uhh…Marketing business I imagine.

Lady: Do you know the exact nature of the business?

Me: I must have forgot to say that I’m his assistant so he doesn’t need to clear that kind of stuff with me. I can’t precisely say. Maybe he wants to send a proposal.

Lady: What kind of proposal?

Me: I’m sorry, are you going to give me the information?

Lady: Well I’m actually the Marketing Manager here and I can’t just give you the information just like that. Find out exactly what your boss wants and call me back please.

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Needless to say, we won’t be calling her back.

To Corporate Jamaica, I say this…CUT THE CRAP! There’s a revolution happening. A revolution in technology thus a revolution in communication, thus a revolution in business. Most of you don’t even know why you remain so inaccessible beyond the fact that this is how you came and found things. There are thousands of ideas and opportunities for you to explore, significant concerns that need to be addressed and real people that need your attention. Learn a lesson from the idiot restaurant manager who caused her company to miss out on a major business deal today because of her blind adherence to old business principles.

*brandishes live grenade*

To avoid total anihilation, here are my demands:

1. Stop allowing your secretaries to scare away potential clients and partners with their repetitive droning of “I can’t tell you that”.

2. Update your company websites so that the managers and executives of each department have  profiles or at least some form of direct contact information listed (email, direct line etc).

3. Stop taking a week to respond to serious business-related queries. Even a “no” is appreciated over nothing at all.

4. Stop making excuses and pretending that your inaccessibility is justifiable because you’re “busy” and that it isn’t just calculated ineptitude.

5. Erect a statue or other representational monument in my honour in the lobby of your head office and instruct all employees to pay homage with sacrifices of  wine, food and other offerings. (This one is optional).

Aside from number 5, am I asking too much here?

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  1. Amazing! This blog looks just like my old one!
    It’s on a completely different subject but it has pretty much the same page layout and design. Great choice of colors!

  2. Love the facepalm graphic – perfect choice to use Worf rather than Picard!

    More seriously, I think there are so many underlying causes at work here, that there is no easy answer. Some of them, imo, are:

    1. We have no idea that this is how we come off. That’s not an excuse, but I think it is often the case. Seeing things “through the customer’s eyes”, or from the outside-in doesn’t come naturally. It requires self-awareness, discipline, openness to admitting faults, and a bunch of other attributes that are, if anything, selected against by the traditional corporate crab-barrel. Sub-consciously, people want leaders who are confident, assured, know where they are going. It is a rare thing when these two sets of attributes are combined in one person.

    2. Even where a manager would be receptive to approaches, sometimes their juniors assert their own authority over a caller by erecting roadblocks. Of course the manager should take responsibility for the way their reports engage with others, but see point 1.

    3. We implement technology for the sake of it. There’s a “keeping up with the Joneses” syndrome. Also, at the risk of trafficking in clichés, IT departments can often be deficient in inter-personal skills. If technology is solely the province of IT departments, a successful implementation will be one which satisfies the technical requirements, ignoring or at least downplaying user interface considerations. How many PBX buying decisions or implementations include testing the caller’s experience – to see how hard or easy it is for an outsider, who may not know exactly who they need to speak to, to reach someone that can actually satisfy their needs? Again, this comes from an inability to appreciate the outside-in perspective, often abetted by a reluctance of non-IT management to engage in an area in which they feel inadequate.

    4. Marketing departments and executives field a LOT of requests for donations. Many more of them are deserving than can be accommodated. People find it hard to say no, and sometimes prefer avoiding the contact. This is not good, but it’s true.

    Ok this response is in danger of becoming longer than the OP, so I’ll shut up now.

    Great post, Klieon.

  3. I feel your pain bro.

    The sad thing is that they don’t realize the amount of opportunities that are lost with that attitude and how sheltered they become.

    One of the biggest things I’ve learned in business is that most prospects / customers just want someone real to talk to, one whom they can relate to. Building good relationships is the key to great business << Learned this one the hard way.

    Plus, it sounds like that lady you spoke to has something to hide.

  4. DWL @ #5!!!! But i totally share your frustration with this whole issue of communication in the business world. With advancement in technology and access to information it really seems as if we are going backwards instead of moving forward. It’s a real shame!!! I await the CHANGE….

    • Thanks for your input Anna! Yes you put it very well by saying we’re going backwards. I think our generation needs to rise up and shove all the corporate fat cats off their leather arm chairs and show them how we want things to go.

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