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42 things you can do to get bad customer service

It’s been a while since I posted anything campers.  I actually only have five suggestions…
1.  Be unprofessional.

We have had voicemails that made us cringe (like the customer who flushed the toilet – we don’t think he realized he had dialed the phone… at least, we hope he didn’t know), and people with children screaming in the background.  No excuse for the first case.  The second case – we sometimes work from home as well, and understand that those things can happen sometimes.  In fact, I have two dogs, and one of them hates when I am on the phone and tries to talk to me himself.  If you hear “A-ROO-ROO-ROO” in the background when talking to me, please know it’s not me howling into the speaker.  However, when he does that, I make sure to quiet him as soon as possible with a rawhide or a biscuit.  Point is, it happens only once.

Secondly, ending your support case descriptions with “U giv code, plz?  KTHXBAI.”  Really?  Show me your resume’.  Tell me how you got a job.  I expect to be greeted by English (and I will be quite lenient with non-English speakers using a translator), but text speak should be used on the WOW forums or with your teenage little brother over IM.

2.  Complain, complain, complain.

When I first started with Atalasoft, my eyes glazed over when trying to read the documentation.  Now, it’s the easiest thing in the world for me to find what I’m looking for.  (Practice, practice, practice.)  I understand that a lot of people have trouble with it.  But, if over the course of a 20-minute conversation, you spend 19 minutes complaining about the documentation, then we’ve wasted 18 minutes.  You could have complained for 1 minute and I could have helped you in 1 minute.  Which one sounds more productive?

Don’t tempt me to send you to a different support group.

3.  Lie, cheat, steal…

Software piracy is an unfortunate way of life.  From Windows to Adobe to DotImage, people are always on the hunt to get around paying for products they use.  We can’t stop everybody, and we’ve put in quite a few measures to prevent people from taking advantage of us.  However, people do what they do, and then expect to get the same service as people who legitimately pay for the product and service.  When they get caught, they ask why they’re not receiving timely service.  I think the answer is obvious – you get what you pay for.

4.  Refuse to help us help you.

We are not mind readers.  If we were, we would not be engineers.  In fact, I would be going on game show after game show (“No whammies… no whammies… STOP!”)  When we ask you questions, when we make suggestions, it is because we are trying to determine the issue, not waste your time.  We do not know the answer to every single problem immediately – sometimes we need to investigate down to the real cause of the problem.  Never say “this doesn’t work” and leave it at that.  If I ask you a question, and you do not answer it, I’m going to repeat the question until you do.  If I make a suggestion, and you don’t try it, I’m going to repeat the suggestion until you do.  We don’t follow a script, and no one develops the exact same application.  We treat you like an individual, just like everyone else.

5.  Expect us to debug your code.

As an engineer for a software company, my family can afford more than ramen noodles every night.  As an engineer for a SMALL software company, we’re not eating prime rib every night, either.  So when a contract programmer making 5 times more than me per hour expects me to pore over their code to find where they forgot to set something to true, I tell them politely that that’s not what I do.  Give a college kid $20, and I’m sure he’ll do it for you.  Be careful, though – he might take your place on the next contract.

Which leads to… one thing you can do to get great customer service.

Be nice.

If you’re nice, we might overlook the fact that you’re popping gum into the phone.  If you’re nice, we might step you through the documentation and show you how we find things quickly.  If you’re nice, we might hint that you can find your answer in a particular demo.  If you’re nice, we might make other suggestions for you to try.  If you’re nice, we might start a go-to meeting and give you a second set of eyes.

It seems that a little over a year ago I posted something similar with the same conclusion, but it can’t hurt to repeat this message until everyone gets it.

Be nice.  (I was going to link to a YouTube clip of Patrick Swayze’s “Be nice” speech in Roadhouse, but, uh, the language wasn’t very… nice.)

Published Wednesday, February 17, 2010 4:35 PM by Elaine


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