Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Communication with Support - things are looking up

I received a very nice reply from Fraser @ GetGlue regarding the support issue I previously blogged about. Hit the jump for my reply to him.

Hey Fraser - 

I want to say thank you for taking the time to personally address my issues, but I feel that the overall point is still being missed here. I can totally understand GetGlue's need to expand and iterate on its processes, especially when it comes to sticker awarding (which I can totally understand needs tweaking - I'll put a few thoughts in on that at the end of this email), but the main thing that set me off was the lack of customer service in this issue.

Let me tell you a little bit about myself so you can better understand where I'm coming from.
For the past six years I have worked as a support specialist for [company info redacted]... The call center I work in is the only one [Company] has, so the people that work here are the only support team for our software and hardware. We're the first, last, and only line of defense for our customers nationwide. In the six years I've been here I've been steadily promoted and I am now one of the few Tier 3 support specialists at the call center. In addition to my product testing and documentation duties, I handle issues that are above and beyond the problems that our Tier 1 and Tier 2 specialists deal with on a day-to-day basis; typically these are things that aren't in our company FAQ and can't be quickly resolved or customers with issues that are that are hard to handle.  We have a very customer-centric support philosophy that hinges on some major tenets:

1. Every customer issue is important. Whether it's something as simple as "I don't like the placement of this check-box in your software" or as far-reaching as "My network is down and my office can't function", every customer call is treated with the same gravity. Some are easily resolved in one call, and others take a bit more work, which leads to point number two.

2. When you are handling a customer's issue, you own that issue. We're taught that if a problem has cropped up then we're supposed to see it through from start to finish, and it's not finished until the customer is satisfied.

3. The customer's perception is reality. Even if the customer is mistaken, it's our job to see them through the issue they have brought to us. Sometimes all that requires is an explanation of the issue at hand in a manner that the customer understands, other times it requires further education of the customer to the proper steps required to accomplish what they want to do. Regardless of that, perception is king.

This is the level of service I am expected to provide (and do provide) to our customers. As such, this is the level of service that I expect other companies to provide to me. So with those things in mind, I invite you to re-examine the initial communication on this issue from my point of view. I wrote an email to support noting that I had a problem, that I was not the only one having the problem, and I included the steps I took to try to rectify the problem. I asked if support was aware of this issue. I also noted another on-going issue I was still having. In return I get a canned response with what seemed to me to be verbiage that not related to the issue at hand. This tells me that:

1. My email was received
2. My email was read
3. The person that read my email, instead of looking into my account, checking with the rest of support to see if there were any known issues at the time, or emailing me back and probing for more information, reached for the document that contained the canned responses to the key words of "I've checked in X times and still haven't received a sticker" and "I've got an on-going issue", copied & pasted the canned responses into their reply, and hit Send.

I've been with GetGlue since this summer. I've seen enough awarding bugs crop up (a la the Glee season premiere, et cetera) to know that when everyone else around me is doing the same thing I am and I'm not getting the same results they are, there's a glitch in the system. And yet, instead of someone actually checking to see if there was a known issue (which obviously there was, because it was fixed later on Tuesday night) or treating me as a person with an issue, I get the canned email that gets sent to the people that throw down 15 zero-point check-ins and expect to get a sticker for it. This, in my mind, is not good customer service. If I had received an email noting that, "Sorry to hear you're having problems. Yes, we're aware of issues and we're going to be fixing them soon" or even "Sorry to hear you're having trouble with your account. We're not aware of any issues but we'll look into it and get back to you" then I would have just said to myself, "ok, that's fine" and let it be, because even if they were canned responses either one of those would have been a bit more germane to the issue I was having than the response I received, and would have indicated that the support personnel was actively looking into the issue. I'm not asking for special treatment for myself; I'm asking that your support team actually treat things a bit more personally across the board, rather than just looking for key phrases and firing back pre-written e-mail replies.

Speaking of support, you guys may want to consider setting up a support-only GetGlue twitter account - like @GetGlueSupport or something - for people to shoot their questions towards. It'd save you guys trouble in the long run seeing as how there are so many other tweets flying around with the @GetGlue marker in them.

[Suggestions for changes to the sticker system redacted]

Anyway, I've rambled enough here. I realize that this was a bit long and I hope you can understand my point of view on this situation. As I mentioned before, I'll be the first to sing you guys' praises from the mountaintops, but I'll also be the first to call you on the carpet if I see something that I feel isn't right. Communication like this is a good thing, and if you keep your users informed of what's going on when we ask then there will be a lot less grumbling and a lot more happy customers. For every one of us that actually takes the time to write in with a problem there are a multitude that don't and just silently leave because of it, so remember that when it comes to keeping your customers in the loop as to what's going on. It's easier to keep an existing customer than it is to try to generate a new one.


Frank (TechParadox) Hinz

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