Posts Tagged Customer Service
Originally Published on Techdirt.
Dealing with customers can quite often be a pain for many companies and other people who offer goods and services that require some support from time to time. When offering a free service, the barrier for new customers is eliminated and you can get a whole lot of cranky people when the service is down or not operating to expectations. So what happens when a free user turns into a paid user? Will those people become even more entitled and become even more upset when downtime happens? Actually, it could very well be the opposite.
Over at the Agile League, one software developer, Micah, shares his experience with offering a paid subscription for a free service.
When I finally flipped the switch to add paid subscriptions to Obsidian Portal, I was terrified of the coming support nightmare. I reasoned that if people were angry and demanding when it was free, they would be infinitely more angry and demanding after they had paid. Instead, what I quickly learned was that the paying subscribers were vastly more polite, understanding, and patient than the free users.
So why exactly did this happen? Why did these customers, who decided to pay money, suddenly become more polite in their interactions with this developer? Micah offers what he feels is the best explanation for this change.
My customers don’t pay me in order to buy the right to yell at me. Most of them don’t care at all who I am. They pay money because my service addresses a pain point in their lives. They’re so happy at how well it addresses the pain point that they gladly get out their wallets and fork over payment. If there’s an interruption in the service, they aren’t interested in pointing fingers and assigning blame. They just want the service back. If service interruptions or bugs are the norm, they may get angry, but the point is that they don’t get extra angry just because they paid.
When people find software or any other service that addresses their needs, they will gladly pay for it and be happy about it. This is something we have addressed in the past on numerous occasions. This is what makes Valve’s Steam platform so successful in the games industry. This idea is what leads us to shake our heads at the boondoggles that the movie and music industries throw out there. It is all about identifying a need in the marketplace and offering a service that is convenient and actually meets that need.
Of course this is not going to be true for 100% of users who do pay. There are still plenty of people out there who seek an opportunity to complain. The key is to not be afraid of putting yourself out there.
What I am suggesting is that you relax any fear you have about being beholden to them because they paid you. Asking for payment does not fundamentally change your relationship with your users. Some will love you, others won’t. But, there’s a good chance that the ones who love you will match up to the ones paying you.
So while there may be some paying users who do complain, there is still a large group who will not because they actually love your service enough to have paid. These customers feel that the service offered at the time of payment was worth the money. As long as the service meets those expectations, they are happy. When your customers are happy, you could make a lot more money in the process.
Yesterday was quite the interesting day for a marketing firm called Ocean Marketing. You see, this firm was managing the distribution and marketing for a controller but ended up not only ticking off its own customers but also the owners of Penny Arcade and PAX, the greater internet community and its employer as well. When Penny Arcade got a hold of the whole deal, that is when things went from bad to epic.
You see, the whole thing started out as a simple question from a customer. This customer wanted to know where the controllers he pre-ordered were. He was hoping that he would get them before Christmas but that never happened. This query was met with indifference from Ocean Marketing. Eventual that indifference rose to the level of first holier than thou then to pure unadulterated bile.
First we have indifference:
They still haven’t shipped yet on the way here from china
They are in the USA now in customs so its wither before or after Christmas.
Then we have holier than thou:
Things happen in manufacturing if your unhappy you have 7 days from the day your item ships for a refund. You placed a pre order just like any software title the gets a date moved due to the tweaks and bugs not being worked out and GameStop or any other place holds your cash and im sure you don’t complain to activision or epic games so put on your big boy hat and wait it out like everyone else. The benefit is a token of our appreaciation for everyone no one is special including you or any first time buyer . Feel free to cancel we need the units were back ordered 11,000 units so your 2 will be gone fast. Maybe I’ll put them on eBay for 150.00 myself. Have a good day Dan.
Finally we have pure unadulterated bile:
LOL Thanks for the Free PR I know the Editor N Chief of Kotaku , IGN , Engadget I’ll be meeting them at CES .The noise complaint was for people high up on the food chain in a corporate world of real estate you have no clue about. Thanks for the Rice Rocket Compliment too love me some motorcycle . Send that over to Engadget you look like a complete moron swearing and sending your customer service complaints to a magazine as if they will post it or even pay attention do you think you’re the first or the last what are they going to do demand us to tell you were your shipment is or ask for a refund on your behalf … Really … Welcome to the Internet ? Son Im 38 I wwebsite as on the internet when you were a sperm in your daddys balls and before it was the internet, thanks for the welcome to message wurd up. Grow up you look like a complete child bro. I Don’t have my controller so im gonna cry to the world … Really ?? Hey take that free time and do something more productive. All you had to do was check the like everyone else , people have inquired but you’re the douchiest of them all J
Oh and FYI When a street date gets pushed by a publisher on a video game you pre ordered do you cry to them too ?
You just got told bitch … welcome to the real internet check kotaku in 2 weeks when they are reviewing free PS3 Avengers we send them as well as G4 and all the other majors hell yeah , don’t forget to check Amazon, gamestop.com, play n trade , Myers , Frys and a ton of other local stores coming your way you think you speak for billions son your just a kid you speak for yourself no one cares what you think that’s why were growing and moving 20-50 thousand controllers a month. We do value our customers but sometimes we get children like you we just have to put you in the corner with your im stupid hat on. See you at CES , E3 , Pax East ….? Oh wait you have to ask mom and pa dukes your not an industry professional and you have no money on snap you just got told.
Seriously, who is this guy? Who in any level of marketing treats a customer this way and still has a job? Its one thing to treat your customers with indifference, after all most customers are used to that as it seems to be standard customer service at most businesses. However, it is far worse to start belittling and bullying your customers for their complaints. This should never have reached this point.
It was at this point that Ocean Marketing pretty much lost what ever control of the situation he may have had. You see, in that little diatribe, he name dropped PAX. It just so happens that Penny Arcade, one of the news outlets this customer sent his latest letter to was listening in and decided to make his voice heard and pretty much told him off. OM never saw it coming.
This ended with Mike Krahulik posting the whole thing to Penny Arcade. That is when Gabe realized what behemoth he woke up. He then went grovelling to Mike begging to have the beast pulled off him. This is Mike’s Reaction:
I think there is a big difference between being sorry and being sorry you got caught. I have a real problem with bullies. I spent my childhood moving from school to school and I got made fun of everyplace I landed. I feel like Paul is a bully and maybe that’s why I have no sympathy here. Someday every bully meets and even bigger bully and maybe that’s me in this case. It’s the same thing that happened with Jack Thompson. It might not always make the most business sense and it is a policy that has caused us some legal problems, but I really don’t give a shit about that. When these assholes threaten me or Penny Arcade I just laugh. I will personally burn everything I’ve made to the fucking ground if I think I can catch them in the flames.
Frankly, I think this guy deserved everything he got. There was nothing that he did in this situation that was worthy of his position. None of this answered his customer’s question, resolved his concerns or got him the controllers he had pre-orderd. Why would anyone resort to such childish behavior? It now turns out that this guy and his company have lost their contract with the controller company and will most likely ever work in marketing again. I can’t say I feel any sorrow for him, only pity.
If there is one thing that I have learned in all my years of retail service is that the customer is king. If your customer is not happy, you are not doing your job right. This is a fact of life that is instilled upon every retail clerk or associate from day one. You must go out of your way to make your customer happy. Sadly this guy either never learned that lesson or is hugely effected by one of the laws of the common laws of the internet. Either way, he deserves what he got. I hope he learned a valuable lesson in all this. Judging by his “apology” he most like didn’t though.