How NOT to Automate Email Marketing

DISH paints trucks instead of responding to customers

Lost opportunities and missing service

The dispute between DISH Network and Media General started with a compensation disagreement and escalated to a request for FCC mediation. Until it is resolved, eighteen channels in ten states have gone dark. This leaves DISH customers and Media General viewers in limbo until the two can work out a solution.

Both companies are looking for support from the people affected. Media General ran news stories before the channels were blocked. The media organization continues the charge with online messaging that includes promotions for digital antennas so viewers can receive the signal without DISH.

Can't access our channel? Buy antenna here...

DISH is fighting back with Google ads, messages painted on company trucks, and information on the website:

DISH Stands for You

DISH Network has a strategic advantage over Media General in the lobbying for support process. The company has a customer database complete with email addresses. Reaching out to customers with information prior to the blackout and an option to subscribe to updates provides an opportunity for DISH to keep existing relationships good and create new ones. Unfortunately, it is now a lost opportunity.

What’s worse than losing an opportunity?

DISH has gone beyond lost opportunities into the land of alienating customers with their scripted automated responses to emails. According to the company’s website, it is standing for the customers and wants people to help by not switching providers and lobbying lawmakers.

Dish Lobbies Customers for Support in Dispute

Somewhere along the line the DISH Network management team missed the lesson on customer engagement. It’s a simple lesson that can be summarized in one sentence: Engaging customers begins with personal communication. A neighbor shared her experience and frustration with me. It was too good of an example not to share with you.

We live in the mountains where signals bounce like a red rubber ball on steroids. Antennas pull in a multitude of channels at one home and nothing at the house next door. Media General’s suggestion to get an antenna doesn’t set well with people who know that they are in a signal free zone. My neighbor has DISH Network and loves CBS, one of the Media General stations in the blackout. She emailed customer service with this request:

“I know that we lost WSPA due to a contract dispute. It is my understanding that Media General was asking too much money. I only want DISH to pay a fair amount. I miss my CBS channel. I do not care if it is WSPA or another channel. Could you please provide us with a CBS channel at least thru time frame of 8-11 pm eastern time? I am unable to get local channels. I bought several different types of antennas and they will not pick up the local channels. Thank you.”

DISH responded with this message:

“Dear DISH Customer,

Thank you for your e-mail. We value your business and the opportunity to discuss our negotiations with Media General, the owner of your local station.

We offered short-term extension to Media General so customers would not be impacted by these negotiations. Media General refused this extension and instead is attempting to extort a rate increase of three times the previous rate DISH paid Media General. This is simply not fair. In an effort to reach an agreement, DISH offered to match the rates paid to Media General by our pay-TV competitors. Additionally DISH offered to pay Media General the same rates we pay to other affiliates in the same market. Unfortunately, Media General flatly refused both of these offers.

We have successfully reached agreements with hundreds of local stations across the country in the past year. We understand the marketplace well and remain hopeful that we will successfully reach a fair agreement with Media General.

For the latest information, please visit HYPERLINK http://www.dishvaluepledge.com www.dishvaluepledge.com.

Sincerely,
DISH”

This message is so wrong it is almost insulting to the recipient. The top two issues are:

Personalization – The original inquiry was sent using the DISH Contact Us form on the website. It requires the phone number which provides access to customer information. The customer’s name should have been used instead of “Dear DISH Customer:”

Message – The message doesn’t answer the question. It simply repeats the company’s position on the dispute and directs the recipient (AKA the customer who pays for the service) to the website for more generic information.

But, wait! There’s more!

Unfazed by DISH’s lack of customer care, our heroine responded with this message:

“Thank you for explaining about the negotiations with Media General. But my question was would you please provide CBS from a different provider. Since Media General is being unreasonable then another CBS option should be available.”

This is the message that every company in a dispute that affects customers should want to receive. It shows support for the company while requesting an alternative solution. Apparently DISH wasn’t appreciative because this response was sent:

“Dear DISH Customer,

Thank you for your e-mail. We value your business and the opportunity to discuss our negotiations with Media General, the owner of your local station.

We offered short-term extension to Media General so customers would not be impacted by these negotiations. Media General refused this extension and instead is attempting to extort a rate increase of three times the previous rate DISH paid Media General. This is simply not fair. In an effort to reach an agreement, DISH offered to match the rates paid to Media General by our pay-TV competitors. Additionally DISH offered to pay Media General the same rates we pay to other affiliates in the same market. Unfortunately, Media General flatly refused both of these offers.

We have successfully reached agreements with hundreds of local stations across the country in the past year. We understand the marketplace well and remain hopeful that we will successfully reach a fair agreement with Media General.

For the latest information, please visit HYPERLINK “http://www.dishvaluepledge.com”www.dishvaluepledge.com.

Sincerely,
DISH”

My neighbor didn’t find it nearly as amusing as I did. It isn’t often that you get to see a company using automated email to destroy relationships. Remember the strategic advantage DISH has over Media General? Instead of capitalizing on it by being responsive to customers, the management team used resources to paint trucks.

For information on how to automate email marketing and other best practices, visit 31 Ways to Supercharge Your Email Marketing.



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{ 4 comments… add one }

  • clinton omohundro

    at the rate dish charges me they should be able to afford paying more. now they know what it’s like to pay an unfair price! so what do they do? they take channels I watch away from me! pay the price and give me back my channels,your just as big a crook as the other guy! I will expect a refund on this months programming since I am not getting all my channels! dish is for noone but DISH NETWORKPERIOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
    • Debra Ellis

      One would think that customer service would be a top priority. I’ve been very frustrated with their service too. I hope your channels are back soon.

      Reply
  • Rex Whitmer

    We’ve been with dish since you began service in our Area. So far the only three three programs we’re missing is CNN, HLN and Turner Classic movies. CNN and HLN we can do without, but my wife certainly loves Turner classic movies. Having been a union rep for much of my life, I understand how it goes when negotiating. Hope it doesn’t take too long.

    Reply
    • Debra Ellis

      It took a couple of months for Dish to bring back CBS for us. It was very frustrating. I hope that your channels are back soon.

      Reply

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