Frankie Flack: Don’t publish the email address of my CEO
It didn’t take long before he was moaning about all the nitpicky crap he had to deal with: opponents that looked too big, tryouts that were too political, fields that were too distant, refs that were too biased, butterflies that were too distracting to younger players.
It was a dizzying litany of some of the dumbest possible complains. My buddy is volunteer, and I asked him how much of his week is taken up dealing with screwy half-invented soccer whining. He paused: about 40 hours a week, he estimated. But he had to do it.
Though there were coaches and managers and head referees and schedules and whatnot, the buck stopped with him. Mindless soccer dreck accounted for as much of his life as did his “real” job. This is soccer. Youth soccer. There can’t be more than a couple hundred kids in the whole program.
Now imagine what it’s like to be a CEO, especially one in a consumer industry. If a few hundred soccer parents can keep someone busy all day, every day, imagine what would happen if you had more than 100 million customers, like, say AT&T. You’d probably have some pretty sophisticated system set up to ensure that you could actually accomplish stuff, rather than being distracted 24/7.
After all, with 100 million customers, AT&T sees a hundred one-in-a-million issues a day. You’d probably limit access to emails. I mean, if even lowly corporate drones such as myself can’t handle the deluge, I can only imagine what a CEO sees.
And there would be probably be some automation, especially on common issues or ones that might spark litigation (remember, at a company the size of AT&T, one-in-a-million things happen all the time).
And that automation might occasionally go wrong. That seems to be what happened with AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson this week: one of those systems designed to keep soccer-parent-level distractions at bay went a little off, the press got wind, and everyone had a field day poking fun at AT&T’s customer service language.
The Los Angeles Times went so far as to publish Stephenson’s email address, just to have a little extra fun by twisting the knife a little.
That doesn’t mean that customers shouldn’t be taken seriously or that customer service isn’t a priority (or the priority) for a consumer-facing organization.
But making the CEO out to be the guy tasked with dealing with every last question, suggestion, or concern to come over the email transom? C’mon.
This ain’t youth soccer, and the media should probably know the difference.