I read this article on HBR and it really resonated with me. Not from a conflict perspective though, more from a communication & personality point of view. At some point to many businesses, people became customers, customers became statistics.
But there’s lots of place left for making phone calls, speaking to someone and developing a really good customer relationship. I was investigating using cloud storage, wrote box.net an email and very surprisingly got a phone call. It really impressed me. The fact that they cared enough about a random, potential, customer enough to call back (long distance). I didn’t buy the product, but just based on my initial experience with them, I’ve recommend box.net alot.
Most companies would have sent an automated reply, a template email, or an email signed off by a generic “Care Team”. The box response had real personality and sincerity. It demonstrated that they cared about my business and it made me feel important. You can’t buy the goodwill that creates with any amount of Internet advertising.