26: The customer is king

26: The customer is king

By failing to grasp the demographics of their customer base, Demon Internet appears to have scored a convincing customer service own-goal with their email upgrade.

I’ve been helping my Dad to migrate his email.  I’m sure that many of you reading this, like me, act as unofficial tech support for the rest of your family (“because you work with computers, dear, don’t you?”).  For me, “Dad” and “migrate his email” are two concepts that are unlikely to mix well.

Demon Internet has just contacted a bunch of generally non-technical silver surfers to make confusing and relatively complex changes to their email setup.  The result, more calls to unofficial tech support (i.e. you and me) and a snowballing customer service problem, which is painfully public.  Demon Forum poster richarddavies sums up the problem admirably:

Today, trying to get hold of tech support, then sales,  I had to listen 4 times to the recorded message about email migration – it’s unhelpful the first time.

I visited the site to find out more, and had to try registering 3 times before it would accept I was human.

There is no timescale – however vague – for this migration.

Maybe your market is techies not consumers, but to me your description of the benefits of the new email service is full of jargon. For example I’m told that the improvements include:

“Microsoft Outlook Web Access” – what is this, why is it an improvement, and what does it do for me that I can’t do now?

“Email is stored remotely so I can access from multiple clients…” – what does this mean, and why is it an improvement?

Then you tell me I must ensure I receive email to postmaster@yourhostname.demon.co.uk. Is this me? Am I the postmaster? What is yourhostname?  And the jargon continues.

Technical support used to be good but the staff are steadily becoming less and less comprehensible and seem to find it difficult to answer a question without resorting to more of the jargon.

Point is, this is all very clunky and does not inspire confidence. I shouldn’t have to even think about email let alone write about it!  I rely on email for my work and at the moment my only thought is to get it away from Demon as fast as I can.

email migration « Demon Forum

To summarise:

  • You’re hard to get hold of
  • You’re making me jump through hoops
  • You’re being vague
  • You’re using jargon I don’t understand
  • Your “benefits” do not benefit me
  • Your technical support is poor
  • You’re disrupting me for no good reason
  • I’m going somewhere else

When you have to contact your customers about an upgrade or change to their service, how much attention do you pay to what you say, how you say it, and more importantly, how you make life as easy as possible for your customers?

It’s no coincidence that this was the topic of my very first article in my ‘100 Things I’ve Learned‘ series.  Customers are not stupid and always have a choice.  They will generally tend to choose better customer service, so make sure yours is exemplary.

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The Practitioner's Guide to Product Management book cover

The Practitioner's Guide To Product Management

by Jock Busuttil

“This is a great book for Product Managers or those considering a career in Product Management.”

— Lyndsay Denton

Jock Busuttil is a freelance head of product, product management coach and author. He has spent over two decades working with technology companies to improve their product management practices, from startups to multinationals. In 2012 Jock founded Product People Limited, which provides product management consultancy, coaching and training. Its clients include BBC, University of Cambridge, Ometria, Prolific and the UK’s Ministry of Justice and Government Digital Service (GDS). Jock holds a master’s degree in Classics from the University of Cambridge. He is the author of the popular book The Practitioner’s Guide To Product Management, which was published in January 2015 by Grand Central Publishing in the US and Piatkus in the UK. He writes the blog I Manage Products and weekly product management newsletter PRODUCTHEAD. You can find him on Mastodon, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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