I read a lot of blogs about online support, customer experience management, and the art of communication. There are tons of articles describing how we (aka the people working in support) can make the service experience for our customers as agreeable as possible. Those stories often go a little something like:
- Be nice.
- Listen carefully, reply carefully.
- Go the extra mile to make the customer happy.
At iwantmyname, I think we’re doing a pretty good job ticking all those boxes. We collect feedback through Nicereply, and our stats show a numerical “thumbs up” for all team members. Nevertheless, every now and then there’s the odd conversation that goes completely wrong.
Take this example which led to the dent in my customer satisfaction statistics. I‘ll first tell it from the customer‘s point of view.
All of a sudden, my domain stopped working. I had a website and emails set up because it’s my business domain. My income depends on that domain. When the first customers called because they could not place an order, I thought my website went down. I checked it, and there was an error message saying my domain could not be found. So I called the hosting company, and they told me that the issue was with my domain, not with my website. I could not find a phone number of iwantmyname, so I sent them an email. They told me that my domain expired weeks ago and that I would have to pay a much higher fee now to restore it. This is unbelievable. They didn‘t even send me a single message before deleting my domain.
Worst. Customer. Service. Ever. Right? Let‘s see what this looks like from my position as a support team member.
So we got this new case of a domain that went into the redemption period. Before that happens, we automatically send about ten reminders to the contact email address in the account.
When we first received a message from the customer, it just stated that “the domain is gone and we need it back ASAP because this is unacceptable.” The thing is that we manage more than one domain, so I asked the customer for the name in question. Once I received it, it was accompanied by a couple of insults because the domain had already been down for at least two days. I informed him how to restore the domain, which made things even worse. Restores come at a higher fee that we have to pay to the registry. We don‘t agree with those fees, but have no way to avoid them, or the domain will be deleted.
Then more insults from the customer because his login details were out of date and he could not access the account. He threatened to call his lawyer and publish our “shady business practices” because we don’t do phone support.
In the end, the customer decided not to restore the domain. It has since been registered by somebody else. Nevertheless, he took the time to send out a handful of negative ratings with further swearing and threats.
Luckily, I do remember this single case because it’s one of the few negative ones — most days I just get messages like, “thank you, problem solved.” Still, the bad ones tend to stick, so here’s how they can be avoided.
Information is key
Like a doctor diagnosing an illness, the more information you can provide in a support ticket, the better. Clearly map out the steps you took that led you to your problem, and add all the little details that could be relevant to the case. Too much information is a good thing in this situation.
Also, try breaking out separate bits of information into bullets. Anything to make details more manageable to read is a plus.
Pro tip: If you send a support request to us while you‘re logged in to your account, we‘ll be able to run updates on your behalf so you don‘t have to do it yourself.
When it comes to the top ten of incoming requests, “I cannot log in to my account“ ranks pretty high. I tend to forget my logins as well, which, among other reasons, is why I use a password manager.
Usually finding this information is done through the regular password reset process (your login email address can be found in your latest receipt), but if you can’t complete the password reset process, we have to follow a no-exception security protocol to keep your domains safe. We take domain security quite seriously, and it only takes a quick Google search to find a story or two about how some simple social engineering can bypass a lax security process. In this case, being difficult is a feature, not a bug — even if it’s frustrating in the moment.
Pro tip: Speaking of receipts, always update your email and postal address every time you make a change. Otherwise, all the domain expiration/renewal messages we send out won’t get to you… which is bad.
Hello, Mr. Robot
Have you ever had a conversation with one of those chatbots? If you were in contact with our support team, the answer is definitely “no.“ Our support is handmade by a bunch of friendly people sitting around the globe. And people’s brains, generally, work a little more efficiently when they’re not being insulted in the process.
Not that we can’t function while being insulted, but it’s generally harder to get to the root of the problem when support tickets are so… colorful. So maybe edit out the non-essentials. We can totally empathize with being frustrated when something goes wrong, but trying to shame us in the process doesn’t put you into any sort of top-secret priority queue.