Ever had to deal with an asshole customer? Ugh! They can really ruin your day. I’ve had to deal with my fair share, so I should know better than to be one myself. But I was just an asshole customer.
Normally I am pretty darn polite, but it turns out there’s an easy formula to turn polite people into assholes. The formula is easy:
- customer has problem with your game or product
- customer submits a ticket
- customer receives a useless, generic email reply
- customer emails back more information
- customer waits impatiently for days
- customer gets an automated email saying “We didn’t hear back from you, so I guess the case is closed, buh-bye”
- customer gets irate
My email reply was thrown away (not even bounced back to me) because it was sent to a “firstname.lastname@example.org” email address. The email didn’t specifically tell me not to reply via email… apparently I was just supposed to scrutinize the email address before sending a reply. I’m used to modern ticketing systems that let you reply via email, so I didn’t think twice about it. But their ticket system, like far too many, was designed for a previous era.
Back in 2002, ticketing systems were pretty cool. They were like magic! You enter a ticket on the website, and then it gets copied to your email so you know when it’s updated! WOW!
It’s not 2002 anymore. Ticketing systems are not cool, and logging into a website to send a follow-up response is really annoying. I often check my email on my phone, where logging into games or websites is difficult or impossible. Fortunately, the phone’s email program has this neat “Reply” button. So I should be able to use it.
Not Just For Stupid Morons
“But Eric, you’re just a stupid moron!” I hear you say. “Everybody knows you can’t reply to automated emails!” Wrong! But your misconception is quite common.
The FlashGameLicense.com website sends tons of automated emails. Sometimes, we expect a reply from the developer, and we got to wondering how often people were replying to our “no-reply” email address. So we created an actual email account for it, and that account suddenly started getting tons of replies. A large percentage of our HIGHLY-technically-skilled user base replied to our no-reply email address. The emails said not to do that, but they did it anyway. It’s almost as if they’re stupid morons… orrrrr…. mayyyyyybeeeee they don’t have time to read every detail of the email, so they gloss over the pedantic instructions, and use the big shiny Reply button in their email app to dash off a response.
So we made that Reply button work. It wasn’t hard. Now automated emails that expect a reply can get a reply from email. It’s automatically associated with the right ticket and everything. How hard was it? Including the time needed to make sure it was relatively secure, the whole implementation took maybe 16 hours of development time.
When I Make Email Mistakes, I Get Angry… At YOU
The thing is, I do feel stupid after making a mistake like this. Of course I should have read the fine print on your antique, sub-standard ticketing system. But I didn’t, and it cost me time and possibly money. I feel stupid.
But guess what? I don’t respond by apologizing. No no no. I’m taking it out on you. You let me stew in my annoyance for days, and then told me that it was my fault you weren’t talking to me due to a technical hurdle I didn’t notice. My annoyance doesn’t go down. It goes up. That makes me feel bad, and makes your customer service staff feel bad when I yell at them, and nobody wins. Now it’s that much harder to have a happy customer.
Don’t let the customer get irate if you can help it. And you can help it here.