Today’s Automated Reminder System Treats Us Like Toddlers

I need an adult, I need an adult

More and more, organizations that we deal with are trying to control us through repetition. Have we, as adults, lost the ability to remember what we need to do, prioritize our goals, objectives, and tasks, and then get on with it? It seems like if we don’t respond and act immediately nowadays, the System marks us down for being blasted with repeating messages until we do what they want.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of being treated like a toddler. Additionally, I feel a bit more empathy for what our toddlers have to put up with from adults!

Here are some modern examples of today’s toddler treatment that is being enabled through digital means.

Example #1: The Dentist

I went for my last dental checkup in February. Since my family is lucky enough to have benefits, I make the effort to get all of us in to see the dentist and hygienist yearly and ensure required work is completed (cavities filled, etc.).

Somehow I must have said I’ll be back in 6 months. Alternatively, the office expects people back in 6 months. Regardless, at the beginning of August, I received an email reminder to schedule my next appointment. I appreciated the reminder and put it on my mental to do list.

A couple days later, I got a voicemail message from the dental office requesting a call back to book my appointment. This was slightly annoying as I have other higher priority items I am dealing with at the moment. It’s already on my to do list.

Two days later, I received a text message kindly reminding me it’s been 6 months since my last checkup and it’s time to book my appointment. I’m not sure why, but I felt the text reminder as an intrusion — it’s crossing the line. I quickly noted the unsubscribe option and replied UNSUB. When did I give permission to receive text messages from my dentist?

Notice the built-in escalation system

Get the target to take desired action via the first passive communication method. Upon failure, get target to take desired action via the second medium-level method. Upon failure, get target to take desired action via the third more aggressive channel.

I’m curious as to what the dental office will do now. What happens when the target remains unresponsive after 3 varying attempts?

I imagine people in the dental industry live in a different reality than most of us. Their teeth are meticulously kept, perfectly white and impeccably clean. Their gums never bleed and they’ve never had a cavity. Their greatest joy is their upcoming cleanings and they wish they could do them more frequently than every 6 months.

Going to the dentist just isn’t as important to the rest of us. We schedule it in when we can. If we don’t, we pay the price. We’re adults.

Example #2: Expiring Domains

If you own any domain names, you know they are usually set to auto-renew. This is a good safety to have set up. Who wants to risk losing their domain name?

However, sometimes I purchase extra domain names in the spur of the moment and then later decide I’m not going to use them. In this case, I uncheck the auto-renew option to avoid nonrefundable surprise charges on my credit card for something I don’t want. Also, often renewing for the second year is much more expensive than the first year; for example, the first year could be substantially discounted, like for $4.99, with second year renewal costs at $39.99 or higher.

So, I decided not to renew a couple domain names I’m not using by unchecking the auto-renewal, and I’ve been receiving a constant stream of email from the domain host telling me to renew the domains. Presumably, when people go in and manually uncheck the auto-renew option, it’s not because they are idiots; It’s because they are being prudent and truly don’t want the product.

Delete, delete, delete. What an annoyance! I’ve decided not to renew the domains. It was one decision. And getting all those reminders are like having my decision continually second guessed.

HOST: “Are you sure you made the right decision?”
ME: “Yes.”
HOST: “But are you really sure?”
ME: “Shut up and leave me alone!!!”
HOST: “But but but… we want your money!”

Mommy asks her recently toilet-trained toddler if she has to go pee. “No mommy,” the toddler replies, instantly recognizing this game she doesn’t like. Mommy reiterates, “but sweetie, we are going out and we may not see a bathroom for a long time, I think you should try to go pee now.” Frustrated, the toddler has to re-validate her statement that she really doesn’t have to go. Then the mother forces her daughter onto the toilet and the daughter sits there in humiliated angry silence as she now has to prove to her mom that she didn’t have to go just like she said.

If I could go back in time, I certainly wouldn’t treat my daughter this way when she was growing up. Why didn’t I believe her when she said she didn’t have to go to the potty?

Example #3: The Pro Marketer

Last year I purchased an online product. At the time, it was impressive and I benefited from the corresponding online training videos.

The creator invented a new product and I just got slammed with more than 20 emails advertising the product in a short time frame (2 or 3 per day for a week).

The first couple of emails sparked my curiosity. The next few were overkill. The remaining emails were essentially spam causing me to consider unsubscribing altogether.

Example #4: The Free Download

I opted in on a free download from a well known online business consultant. She’s upselling a course and now I’m getting emailed weekly.

Fantastic. I’ve been added to another drip campaign I don’t have time for and it’s clogging up my inbox. I need to unsubscribe and yet I feel bad about it.

Email And Notification Overwhelm

Before we know it, we are getting bombarded with repeating messages.

Businesses know that FOLLOW UP is the best method for getting the MOST DESIRED responses.

This treatment is conditioning us to do what others want on their timeline or we will be punished by receiving multiple automated messages saying the same thing.

It’s not personal, it’s programmed. And I don’t like it.

Stamps my feet and throws a tantrum.

Calgary mompreneur | figuring it out, making it work.

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