Customers matter. Customer development doesn’t end with product/market fit. Your customer support process is an ongoing dialog with the customer that provides valuable information to just just fix problems, but discover new product opportunities.Companies that forget the customer are denying themselves the right to innovate.
It started simply enough, there was a fairly obvious $8,364,175.00 error in my financial statement from Mint.com (now owned by Intuit) that prompted me to contact customer support with this email:
Mint is showing “Your $8,364,175.00 purchase from Peated has cleared your PayPal – PayPal Account account.”
It should go without saying that I have not spent over eight million dollars on anything. The charge was 175 EUROs.
Step 0 – The automated response
Thank you so much for your email. We love hearing from you, whether you’re sharing a great testimonial or something we’d better fix. All of us are working really hard to make Mint better for you.
Our response times are currently about 16 hours. Thanks for your patience and thanks for using Mint.com!
Admittedly, this is not a problem. I expect auto-responses, and it’s better to send one than send nothing. So far, so good. Everything is fine until…
Step 1 – Send a template email to follow up on an auto-response
Response (Joyce J.) 08/05/2011 03:11 AM
In order to investigate and troubleshoot the issue, we need to know the following:
1. Browser and Operating system you’re working with.
2. The specific steps (if any) that caused you to encounter the error.
3. A screen shot and short description of the error. The attached file should be .jpg or .png format….
Important Note: All requested information are crucial for fixing the bug.
Just awesome. Not only did they not bother to use my name in the template, but they’ve managed to include questions which any idiot should realize have nothing to do with the error:
- Neither my operating system nor my browser is going to cause 175 EUR to appear as $8 million USD.
- Clearly they have made no attempt to replicate the problem by looking at my transactions.
- A screen shot is unnecessary with such a specific obvious error and neither is any more detailed description than “Your $8,364,175.00 purchase from Peated has cleared your PayPal – PayPal Account account.”
At this point I’m slightly annoyed, but only enough to write a highly sarcastic response to their auto-reply.
Actually read the customers email and make a basic attempt to confirm the problem if it’s obvious.
Step 2 – Don’t allow the customer to respond
Your recent incident update was from an email address not associated with the incident. In an effort to maintain the security of information, we cannot update the incident using this email address. If you are the incident owner and your email address has changed, or you want to be able to update the incident using this email account, please update your contact information using the following link, then resubmit your update.
Surprise! When I responded (somewhat rudely) I received the above email. I signed up with one email address and my email client is configured to send with another. So now I have to either re-configure my email client every time that I want to talk to customer service or I need to update my profile at the URL. I chose the URL.
Sure, there are security issues and you shouldn’t send customer information to a new email address that’s not registered. However, there is absolutely no reason not to receive information from a different email address and have a real human being decide how to handle the response. That’s not a security threat, it’s basic courtesy.
Step 3 – Make sure the URL goes nowhere useful
This is a useless place to send me. Firstly, what exactly am I supposed to click? Secondly, I don’t have a quickenonline account so updating it will be impossible. Can I update the ticket and respond from this URL? No.
I contacted Mint.com, so send me to a Mint.com page which allows me to respond either update my email address, or directly respond via a ticket system. Let’s not assume I’m familiar enough with the company that I know who bought out Mint.
At this point, I’ve given up. I’m sick of this. I’m either going to close my account or just resubmit the ticket tomorrow. Any wagers as to what happens next?
Step 4 – Make Sure the Customer Can’t Fix the Problem themselves
I space out…I took a couple days to get back to the issue and when I next logged in, I found that when I tried to resync my account I was unable to. I went to the bank info page I found that I only need to click on Learn More to get more information on the problem.
So where’s the Learn More button?
If there is an issue with a 3rd party service (in this case either the licensed tech Mint uses to connect to PayPal or PayPal, it’s best to head trouble off at the pass and send customers an email notifying them that there is a problem, you’re aware of it, and you’re trying to fix it.
Step 5 – Really Piss the Customer Off by Asking them to do you a Favor
Dear Valued Customer,
Thank you for contacting us for Quicken Service and Support. Intuit takes customer feedback seriously and we make every attempt to meet or exceed customer expectations where possible. If you could take a moment to answer the following questions we would appreciate hearing from you.
I’m not sure who thought it was a good idea to send a customer satisfaction survey before the ticket is closed, but that genius should be fired.
Fix the problem, then send the survey.
Step 6 – Send a Pie Chart
The pièce de résistance!
That’s the point when I deleted my account.
Anything but this. I would have preferred an email asking if I had a gambling problem or I’d just bought a bridge. This just makes me painfully aware that Mint doesn’t even attempt to look for unusual activity in my account.
The Moral of the Story
Even when you’re acquired for a ridiculously large sum of money, customers matter. Customer development doesn’t end with product/market fit. Your customer support process is an ongoing dialog with the customer that provides valuable information to just just fix problems, but discover new product opportunities.Companies that forget the customer are denying themselves the right to innovate.
So…what should I post next? Tweet to tell me what to write:Show me how to test product market fit!
orHow can I do lean startup in my friggin' huge company?