Companies go to great lengths to make sure the names of their customer service managers are hidden, and with good reason: If everyone knew who was in charge, they’d just skip the often-cumbersome online form.
I always recommend going through the process, even if it seems completely futile. You’ll start a much-needed paper trail and you’ll also have a solid response when the manager kicks you back to the customer-service department. You can say you already went through the trouble — and show him or her the email chain.
But how do you get the right name?
You start with a search.
For example: I’m having some trouble with AT&T, as I described in a recent post. Say I want to escalate the matter. Who do I send the email to?
You begin with a simple online query on your favorite search engine. Something like: “at&T manager customer service.”
The initial results are not particularly helpful. The top result sends me to a BusinessWeek story about a management trainee who is probably long gone.
How about something more specific? Let’s try “at&t vice president customer service.”
Bingo! The first result takes me to an AT&T page with a name: Kathy Dowling. As a bonus, she’s a “senior” vice president, meaning she is probably a good intermediate step before appealing my case to the CEO.
The next step is to find Kathy’s email.
AT&T’s domain is “att.com” so I would begin with a search of “Kathy Dowling @att.com.”
That yields nothing significant. So I’ll add another search term: “Kathy Dowling email address @att.com”
Interesting. I learn that when Dowling was at Cingular, she engaged with customers in a positive way. It also gives a working email address, Kathy.Dowling@cingular.com, which may forward to her new address.
Based on what we know, we can start guessing Dowling’s email address. Could it be Kathy.Dowling@att.com?
A search reveals it’s a strong possibility. It certainly turns up her LinkedIn profile. We’re getting even closer.
Here’s where we need to cast a wide net. We know that Kathy.Dowling@att.com probably works, but it might be a decoy. (Yes, companies do that.)
Kathy sometimes also goes as Kathleen. So it could be Kathleen.Dowling@att.com. Or, she could be using the subdomain @wireless.att.com or she could be using a middle initial in her email, as some AT&T employees do.
So you send a message to one of these addresses and “bcc” the others. In other words, you address it to Kathy.Dowling@att.com, but then blind-copy it to Kathleen.Dowling@att.com, Kathy.Dowling@wireless.att.com and Kathleen.Dowling@wireless.att.com — and you hope for the best.
But is there a way to verify any of these emails? Yes, there is. Try Verify Email, which checks the authenticity of the address. (Thanks, Ed, for the tip.)
Hey, no one said this was easy!
(Photo: Darrren Hester/Flickr Creative Commons)