Sending an email to the President of a company that you believe isn’t fulfilling its obligation to you may sound pretty easy…but its not. First, you have to find his/her name. This is pretty easy; all it takes is a Google search with key words such as “President, Company X”. These people tend to be pretty high-profile and there is inevitably some reference to a speech they recently gave at an association meeting, or a promotion, etc.
Getting the email address on the other hand is a horse of a different color. Most organizations are actually designed to shield their leaders from the reality of what is going on in the field, just like government bureaucrats often “protect” politicians from the reality of citizens’ experience of government programs.
In business, email addresses are carefully protected and often changed every few months, ostensibly in order to reduce spam. A few years ago, a company’s Reception Desk or Customer Service would often have access to senior Managers’ and Leaders’ email addresses, but this has been largely eliminated. So how does one go about finding the elusive coordinates of company Leadership? Here’s what I do:
I still give Reception the good old college try, but have not been too successful lately. So I usually request the name of someone in IT (computer services), or Accounting. Its actually better if these are lower-level employees. I call them and mention that I have an email for The Boss, but am not sure of the address. Believe it or not, they are usually quite congenial about helping me out. It doesn’t hurt to use their first name and to sound both confident and nonchalant. I suspect they usually think I’m a friend of The Boss or even an internal colleague. Once you have the email address…you’re in!
The next step is to structure your email in a way that will resonate with current hot-buttons in Management Science. For example, believe it or not, the Customer is really, really HOT! Most organizations actually have Mission and Vision statements built around delighting the customer. Unfortunately, while the spirit may be willing, in the vast majority of companies, the flesh is weak when it comes to actually executing that customer-focused orientation and commitment to service excellence. I could tell you why, but I’d need a post the length of a book to explain it.
Keep the letter polite, and to the point. Detail the circumstances and sequence of events. Express your disappointment, especially in terms of how the company is not fulfilling the promises it has made through its Mission, Vision, and Values statements. Don’t ramble on, don’t make threats, and don’t insult anyone. Keep it businesslike rather than shrill and neurotic….otherwise he/she will label you a “nut” and your email will get trashed.
If you write the email well, you can expect all kinds of people to start coming out of the woodwork to help you once the shit hits the fan. Believe it or not, most Leaders and senior managers actually believe what they say in the company’s public documents and will go to great lengths to help you.