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Sometimes companies make money in spite of themselves. About a month ago, I sent an email inquiry to the loyalty program associated with one of my airline reward programs....

They were promoting a new program encouraging me to build my air mileage by participating in online research surveys. Here's what their email said:
You'll earn currency by participating in online market research surveys that have been pre-screened to match your interests. Then redeem your currency for [miles]!
The offer arrived on November 8 and I sent them an online inquiry on November 9 (using their Web site fields) to ask a question before I committed. If it wasn't too time-consuming, earning mileage quickly to visit my friends in Canada had a positive appeal.
I finally received a response yesterday (December 4). The emailed answer had two errors in it which I've bolded for you:
Good Morning,
Thank you for contacting.(contacting whom?) Each survey opportunity is unique. The survey invitation will contain both the length of the survey and the amount of credit your will receive upon completion. If you have any other questions or concerns please contact us.

So, not only did the reply have errors - definitely sending a negative impression - it arrived almost a month after my initial inquiry. What do you think the odds are that I can remember any aspects of this promotion? I can't even remember what I did yesterday... let alone the details of a marketing promotion I received last month!
Maybe the whole idea is to capture a response immediately, like a used car or high-pressured timeshare sales pitch. I, however, do not work that way. Maybe because I'm cynical, or maybe because I'm a marketer. I like to do my due diligence. So, I did and the loyalty company dropped the ball big time!
About a month ago, a local promoter advertised a conference for entrepreneurs at a posh hotel. The keynote speaker was an internationally known business author. I attempted to register online to take advantage of the early-bird pricing. When the process failed after three attempts, I emailed the linked contact and got no response.
Needless to say, if I have to work that hard to give people my money, I lose interest. After a few weeks, I read about the event in The Business Journal and decided to contact the organizers to tell them about my experience. Here I was, an interested participant, money in hand, and no way to register. Again, no reply to that email, too.
Bottom line: if you want customers to respond to a call to action, set up the infrastructure to respond to their inquiries! It never fails to amaze me how this obvious component to branding and customer service is so often overlooked.
Yes, mistakes happen... but when you try to bring it to a business' attention and they contact you too late or not at all, it leaves a bad taste.

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Elaine Fogel is president and CMO of Solutions Marketing & Consulting LLC, and a marketing and branding thought leader, speaker, writer, and MarketingProfs contributor. She is the author of the Beyond Your Logo: 7 Brand Ideas That Matter Most for Small Business Success.

LinkedIn: Elaine Fogel

Twitter: @Elaine_Fogel