A Lesson in My Inbox

I experienced the dark side of technology this week. The email server I use to send my weekly recognition tips malfunctioned and reset the subscriptions of at least 500 people, undoing their carefully scheduled existing subscriptions.

This reset meant annoying and confusing confirmation emails in the inboxes of subscribers (often more than one). And then, not knowing who had experienced the problem, I sent an email of apology to all subscribers. It took hours for me to put the database to some semblance of its former self – long enough for many people to receive the wrong tip in their inbox the following morning.

I tell this story here, because like most ordeals there was a lesson for me and in this case it wasn’t a technology lesson. Although it may be time to find a new vendor…

No, here is what I learned:

During this 24-hour ordeal I lost 20 subscribers. Most hadn’t been subscribed very long and most likely concluded that getting my weekly tips wasn’t worth the hassle.

During this same period I gained 13 new subscribers who were referred by existing readers! Understand, they referred me when my system was basically intruding on their inboxes. I have to say that their level of trust did not go unnoticed!

I also received 65 emails from subscribers with supportive comments:

  • They commiserated on technology
  • Assured me that no harm was done
  • Took the opportunity to thank me for the weekly tips
  • I even heard stories of what they learned from the tips and the changes that resulted. And the positive emails continue to trickle in.

So, the lesson? I learned that in spite of the fact that I have never met most of my readers, we really have built a relationship based on mutual respect. It is a relationship strong enough to stand a little annoyance and for that I am grateful!



My name is Cindy Ventrice. I am the author of the best-selling book Make Their Day! Employee Recognition That Works and the companion guide Recognition Strategies That Work.

My work has been quoted in The New York Times, Alaska Airlines Magazine, Workforce Magazine, and Tim Sanders' book The Likeability Factor.

Visit my website www.maketheirday.com today!

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