If you’re not getting the service you want, maybe you’re asking the wrong person.
Consider what happened to Kara Jones when she was having trouble with a JetBlue Airways ticket recently. Two weeks after sending an email through its website, she still had no response from the airline. So she started searching for the email address of a customer-service manager. Within a few minutes she found one.
“I re-sent the email – and bam!” she says. “I got a phone call about two hours later from them.”
Knowing the right person can mean the difference between being ignored and getting the service you deserve. It’s a sad fact that some emails never reach a company, while others are lost or are ignored.
Don’t let that happen to you. Here are the steps to finding the right name and email address.
Do a smart search online.
Major companies usually list the names of their executives on their websites. In your favorite search engine, just type “site:companyname.com”, “email” and “customer service manager” or “vice president.” You can add the term “customer service” if you pull up too many results. That could reveal the name an email address of the right person to contact. (The “site:” modifier ensures you’re just searching the company website.)
Make an informed guess.
You may not find a working email address, but it’s not hard to guess it. You should assume managers won’t carelessly post their email address online (although you’d be surprised). That doesn’t mean they don’t have an email address.
A former employee at Tiffany offers the following example: Let’s say you have a problem with that silver bracelet you bought for your better half. Let’s also assume that emails to the company are being ignored, which she assures me is unlikely.
Searching for emails at the “@tiffany.com” domain would reveal that all emails either follow the convention email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Finding the CEOs name is easy – just look up a list of its corporate executives online. I won’t keep you in suspense: it’s Michael Kowalski. Then try a few of the conventions, remembering that they sometimes also use a middle initial.
The correct email address could be email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com — or some other variation.
“So now I know the CEO’s name, I will send him an e-mail trying a few of these,” says the ex-employee.
Ask for help.
If you’re looking for some expert assistance at finding the right contact without having to hire a private investigator, check out Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (https://www.mturk.com/). It lets your post the equivalent of a “want” ad for information, and an army of researchers is at your command.
Verify the email address.
There’s a way to tell if the emails you’ve collected will work. A site called Free Email Verifier allows you to check an address. I recently had to update the name of a customer service contact at an airline after a previous manager left. The company wouldn’t give me the name of the new manager, because they knew I would post his name and email address on my customer service wiki.
I found his name through an online search, made an educated guess about his email address, and used Free Email Verifier to make sure it was accurate.
If you get a bounceback or two, don’t worry. Keep trying. Sending an email is free, and eventually you’ll guess the correct address and connect with a manager who can help you.
Remember, these managers don’t have the right to keep their emails private. They are there to serve you, and if the email you sent to the company is being ignored, they need to hear from you.
(Note: I’ll be taking a look at various ways to connect with a company this month. Last week: Phone Confidential: How to find a manager’s phone number. Next week: Social Media Confidential)
Christopher Elliott is a consumer advocate who blogs about getting better customer service at On Your Side. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook or send him your questions by email.