First off, I am not angry – or at least, not angry any longer. Rather, I’ve accepted that sometimes things just don’t work out, and that the cosmos are trying to tell me something:
Stop looking for other options and finish what you started!
This began a couple of weekends ago after I had spent some time thinking – “a dangerous pass time – I know” – and was considering whether computer coding and/or analytics was really something that I could do for the rest of my life and be happy. The answer is, No. Not really.
I like communicating with people, so sitting behind a computer screen and typing code for the rest of my life really doesn’t appeal to my personality type. Outgoing + locked-away-in-a-dark-room-with-a-glowing-screen-and-turning-gray = Unhappy Kimberly.
With this in mind, my mom had mentioned potentially looking into a non-profit college program, and while scrolling through facebook posts, an advertisement for SNHU (Southern New Hampshire University) appeared that talked about non-profit college programs. Thinking it might be fate, I opened the link and looked to see what they had for masters programs.
The ones I found interesting were in Communications: Public Relations and Communications: New Media & Marketing – two potential fields that would have me doing what I enjoy which is working with people and making them happy.
I couldn’t find a direct email, and I didn’t have time to call, so I begrudgingly filled out their form which required pretty much everything about me except my SSN – which at that point I would have walked. Really, I just wanted to know more. Luckily, within 24 hours I was contacted by a friendly representative named Jonathan, and I began communicating via email. I also began receiving phone calls from SNHU.
This is where my problems started because I literally fill every day of my week – pretty much to the hour – so I don’t have time for phone calls unless I schedule it or if I call between plans on my schedule. I tried to tell Jonathan that I wasn’t available via phone – which I thought he understood – but I still received phone calls. I also began receiving vague marketing emails telling me that I needed to apply or that I needed to signup for classes ASAP because the semester was about to start – signature from Jonathan… What?.
Inappropriate. Not only had I not claimed I was going to attend and that I was only looking for information at this time, I was also in contact with a representative who I was working with and so should not be receiving spam emails at that point – even if it was signed from Jonathan, it was insulting.
After a few days of 3+ calls a day that I couldn’t answer because I was at work or in class or just unavailable, I requested via email for my name to be removed from their system and that I would NOT be attending their school, nor would I suggest others attend their school as their marketing strategy was too aggressive and had convinced me that attending SNHU was not in my best interests.
After that email, I still received calls.
Finally, I turned to social media and called out to SNHU:
SNHU responded rather quickly, but they did not do the one thing that would potentially have reversed my negative experience with the situation: they didn’t ask what they could do to make it right. Very simple a thing, really… and to regain my trust, all they needed to do was appear to be even slightly remorseful of the situation. They apologized, but their solution was that I could send them my number and they would forward it – that they couldn’t fix it themselves.
I understand that, what with the importance of keeping different entities within an organization separate being necessary in order to have checks and balances, but the whole thing did nothing but insult me. When I finally received an email address that I could contact, I just wanted it to be done.
I sent the email, cc’d Jonathan, got an apology from Jonathan and a promise that I would be off the list after 24 hours. Done. Sort of. I still received phone calls through the following 5 days – which I tried to patient about – and finally sent them an update.
So why am I sharing this with you? Because the system and/or process that SNHU is using to reach out to and build relationships with potential clients doesn’t work. There are key ingredients to gaining clients and they are the following three things:
- Do what you say you will do, and do it when you say you will do it.
- Recognize that your [potential] client has other options; treat them with respect.
- Recognize that people TALK to other people; give them a reason to share you positively.
- Probably the most important item here. People talk to each other. If they have a negative experience, they are more likely to share it socially than if they had a positive experience.