One of the reasons why Robert Scoble is liked and respected is that he puts his hands up when someone highlights a problem with some aspect of Microsoft or its products. If someone says “Microsoft sucks” – he doesn’t say “No it doesn’t”, he says “Why do you think that, and what can we do to make it better?”
I had a bad customer service experience this weekend and it really annoyed me!
What was unusual was that the customer service issue I had was with a very new, U.S. based, company, in the Web 2.0 space. I would have expected any company in this space to be particularly customer focussed – that was obviously a little naive of me!
It started when I signed up and paid for use of this application. I saw a bug in the program and I posted about it. One of the founders of the application advised me to go to the program’s support forums to report the bug. I went to the forums but I was annoyed that I had to create a new account on the forum to login and report the bug (I already had an account for use of the application). I have enough logins and accounts across the different sites I use without having to create a second account for this application!
When I raised this unnecessary extra login with the application founder, his only response was:
If we did that, we’d have to limit forum users to only active application users.
I thought this was a bit short – I tried to suggest a few ways of fixing the issue:
There are ways around that too – for instance, anyone registering for the forum – put a flag on their account when they register (if they don’t have an application account) and check for that flag as part of the login process.
To which I received the increasingly snarky response (remember, I have paid money to this guy, to use his application. I have spotted a shortcoming in his application and I am trying to suggest ways this shortcoming can be fixed):
Ok, then what happens when someone registers for the service and wants a username that is already taken in the forums? What forum account should we create?
Finally, in response to a comment I made where I said I was getting tired of the discussion (because any suggestions I made on how to improve the application were simply being shot down with no effort to say “hmmm, you know that’s not a bad idea, let me think how we can …” or somesuch), he said:
If you don’t want to engage in a discussion of a “problem” like this, please indicate that your question was rhetorical and I will not waste both of our time trying to engage in the discussion.
My question wasn’t rhetorical. I had a genuine beef with his products which I think others would find annoying too. I tried to suggest ways to improve the products and all I got back was “No we can’t do that; no we can’t do that; If we did that, then what would we do here…”
Now, I believe that if a customer complains about your product or service – you should thank them for taking the time and effort required and for making you aware of the deficiency in your offering. Most people would simply walk away having said nothing – or worse, tell their friends “Don’t use that application, they can’t even figure out how to do single sign on across two applications!”
If someone goes to the trouble of giving you feedback, don’t go out of your way to antagonise them (espcially if they are a paying customer), swallow your pride, admit that your product is not perfect (yet) but also say you are striving to make it so, and thank them for helping you along that road.
It is a tenet of the service industry that a customer who has complained and has had the complaint handled well, is going to be a far more loyal customer than the customer who never had an issue in the first place!
By the way, I have purposfully left the name of the company involved out of this post because I think the focus of this post shouldn’t be the company but the lack of customer service. If you do want to see my original post and all the comments, you can here.
To see how to create a positive customer experience, follow Ben and Jackie’s Church of the Customer blog or read The Cluetrain Manifesto (or both!).