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Posts tagged with ‘customer support’

Wunderkind Fails Truth In Advertising 101

I think that companies should be as truthful as possible, and when customers point out inaccuracies in marketing materials the company should fix the issue.

Case in point: Wunderkind — the company behind the Wunderlist task manager app — has the following image and text on their website:

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Which gives the impression that the tool supports something like sticky notes, widely understood as standalone notes that emulate real world post-its.

But what Wunderlist actually implements in completely different: each task in Wunderlist has a single note. Or turned around, the only notes in Wunderlist are embedded in tasks: they aren’t anything like sticky notes. Here’s an image of a Wunderlist note, embedded in a task:

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Note that notes can be popped out of the task, for editing or viewing, but only temporarily. They aren’t sticky notes.

When users comment (or complain) about this inaccuracy (or falsehood) the support staff’s answers are lame.

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Demonstration purposes? Demonstration of how sticky notes work in other apps?

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If your implementation of notes is better than sticky notes then stop pushing the idea of sticky notes, and put up an image of what you actually have.

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Wunderkind — it’s time to fix your app or your website, or both. 

Yes, I know the app is free, but people’s time isn’t. I took a look at your new Wunderlist 2 today, and fully expected sticky notes. Now, I’m an analyst, so no real problem, but I bet that for every person that posted a note on your support about this — and I only picked out three — there could be hundreds that are pissed off, and didn’t contact you. They just stopped using your app, and told their buddies it’s a piece of junk.

This is just like the restaurant with cold food and bad service where the patrons don’t all complain, they just never come back.

PS If you actually implemented sticky notes — freeform notes outside of tasks but associated with projects, and having their own comment threads — I’d consider using your product, because it’s one of the features missing from Asana that I would really like to have.


Murray Orange via Springwise
TalktotheManager aims to foster a closer connection between restaurants and their clientele. Specifically, as a substitute for comment cards or other less reliable means of collecting feedback, TalktotheManager lets restaurant patrons anonymously text their comments directly to the manager.

Murray Orange via Springwise

TalktotheManager aims to foster a closer connection between restaurants and their clientele. Specifically, as a substitute for comment cards or other less reliable means of collecting feedback, TalktotheManager lets restaurant patrons anonymously text their comments directly to the manager.

This Is Not How It’s Supposed To Work

I use Remember The Milk to manage my personal task list, and I really like how the product works, mostly. But RTM notes associated with task are pretty inaccessible: you have to click through three or four levels of the UI to get there. I also wondered about various third party apps mentioned on the site, many of which no longer seemed to be supported.

Since I am a pretty committed user, I decided to pay the $25 for a pro account, so I could have email support and ask about these issues.I went to the RTM support forum and found that many other users had similar questions about the product. Below you can see the response to an email I send yesterday.

Kudos for the quick response, Brendan, but it’s pretty content-free:

Hi Stowe,

Thanks for getting in touch.

We don’t currently have any announcements about changes to tasks, but if you’re interested in trying out new features before they’re released, be sure that your Pro Tester Profile is up to date. You can update it here: https://www.rememberthemilk.com/services/tester/

When we have a new feature to test, we use to information to select the users who will get to test it out.

Unfortunately I’m not familiar enough with these third party apps to help answer your questions, but the developer may be able to help you.

I’m sorry we’re not able to provide support for third party apps. :(

Please let me know if there’s anything else I can help with.   Regards,
Brendan

A message to Brendan, Remember the Milk, and all the other product companies out there:

  1. If you mention third party apps that hypothetically, once-upon-a-time integrated with your product, or which were reviewed once-upon-a-time as integrating with your product, you have an implicit obligation to maintain information at your website with current status of those integrations. This is especially true if they no longer work. Note: just because you don’t explicitly mention them at your website, or you don’t recommend them, you are not off the hook. Deleting their name and link is not sufficient ‘support’ for users. [Note: I am not saying that RTM has deleted information about formerly working third party apps. This is a general observation.]
  2. If a large number of your users are requesting a specific feature or a fix to an existing set of features, you have an implicit obligation to respond to the request. You don’t necessarily have to implement it, but you are obliged to a/ state your logic for doing whatever it is you do, and b/ spelling out your plans — if any — for addressing the questions people have posed. Specifically, in this case, Remember The Milk should explain its logic for making task notes hard to create, read, and edit, and the company should make that thinking easy to access on its website. Having a user forum where users can post questions and concerns does not absolve a company from actually explaining its plans or product philosophy.
  3. Whenever possible, be grammatical, even if you have no information to share. In the email, when Brendan wrote ‘we use to information to select’, I bet he meant ‘we use that information to select’. I hate to nitpick about grammar and language usage, but we have to hold customer support people — especially when the support is being paid for — to a higher standard.

I like this product, and I use it every day, but I wonder if these people are in step with the way user-centered product development is supposed to work.

How Bad Can Customer Support Be?

My relationship with Verizon goes back a decade or more, since I installed Verizon’s FIOS in my house in Reston VA. FIOS is a good service and I really had next to no problems with it until 2010, when everything got interesting.

To make a long story short: Verizon wants us to pay a $200 ‘early termination fee’ to close my dead father’s landline account.

My mother and father lived with me, my wife, and our sons in Reston for 20 years, and when we transitioned to FIOS from Comcast, we switched the landline and cable to Verizon at the same time. The account was in my parent’s name, although we paid the bill from a joint household account.

In early 2010 my mom passed away, and we tried to change the name on the account, which led to a huge mess (see A Take Of Two Companies; Verizon And Verizon) where our landline, cable and internet were temporarily cut off by the dumb side of Verizon, and we were rescued by the smart side of Verizon.

This is about the dumb side of Verizon, again.

In July my dad moved to an assisted care facility. So that my dad could continue to have land line phone service, my wife called Verizon to move the landline number to the facility, and to direct the bills to us, and not to my dad. However, instead of just changing the name on the bill, Verizon insisted that the the only way to continue land line phone service for my dad would be to open a new account, one with a two year contract. In the heat of the moment, we created the account, having no idea how long my father would be with us.

My dad died at in October, and we’ve tried to close the account. Verizon continued to bill us for several months, and insists that we owe a $200 early termination fee.

My wife, Sarah has had three conversations with Verizon reps, and each time they promise to close the account and send the final bill. At the end of her last conversation with them, they refused to reverse the early termination fee, and suggested that she speak to someone in the “escalation department.” She left a message for someone in that department to call, and they have not returned the call.

I understand that customer support is difficult and companies need to make money, but this goes way over some important line. Honestly, this makes me despair for the human race.

If there is someone in Verizon reading this, please take steps to clear this up. I will print a follow up in a few weeks, one way or the other.

London’s Gatwick Airport integrates Twitter to solicit customer complaints →

This is news?

What I would like is a single app that integrates this sort of functionality based on wherever I am at the moment.

A Tale Of Two Companies: Verizon and Verizon

My mother recently passed away, and we are starting — a few weeks later — to start to dig out from the more humdrum aspects of that, such as switching the name on certain bills. Now, my mother and father have lived with me for over 20 years, and we pay everything out of a shared bank account that we all contribute to. But my wife, Sarah, is taking over much of the bill paying, so she recently tried to switch the name on the account to hers instead of my dad’s.

And that’s the beginning of a long tale.

Apparently, Verizon wants to treat a situation like this as a new account. Sarah said, more or less, Ok, but it’s the same folks, the same address, same service. Unbeknownst to her, the person on the phone cancelled the old account, created a new one, and pressed various buttons. Sarah was told the switchover would be on 29 March, but nothing else: no warning of what was coming.

Then last Friday, a box arrived with instructions on how to pack up our gear and mail it to Verizon. Sarah planned to call them this morning to find out what was going on. However, when we woke up this morning, the internet, TV, and landline to the house were all down. I found a message on the TV with a number to call and a code. Sarah called, and we fell into the shadow of Verizon.

The first person handed Sarah off to someone in charge of angry customers. He told us that there was nothing he or Verizon could do. Yes, we would have to ship back all our gear: including the programmed DVR that my 85-year-old Dad uses, other cable boxes and our router. Yes, someone would arrive in the next day (or so) with exactly the same gear, which would be reconfigured to work. Of course this would mean reprogramming the DVR, learning new devices, getting a new password for a new router and so on.

Sarah was handed off to someone to actually schedule the onsite installation, etc. Sarah pointed out that we hadn’t been notified, and the scheduler pointed out that someone might have called the landline, which only my Dad uses: and he doesn’t use the voicemail.

This guy also suggested that the technician might be able to simply note down all the serial numbers of the existing machinery, but he couldn’t be sure if that was allowed.

I started twittering, and sending a series of message to @verizon, @verizonsupport, and any other verizon twitter account I could find.

About an hour later, I got a very nice Twitter response from someone called Marcus, who then called me up, and proceded to back out of the mess. He was able to reset the Internet, the TV, and the phone from his desk (although I did have to open the phone box and test two ports with a phone, but that was all). I encountered some weird bug with my Mac connecting to the wifi, but that turned out to be my Mac, not related to Verizon, and I straightened it out anyway.

Apparently, we are going to be getting the bills in Sarah’s name, without changing the gear, or any other ridiculous disruption.

So why is it that the initial person Sarah talked to a few weeks ago didn’t process her order that way? Why did we ‘have to’ get a new account? Presumably that clerk is compensated for closing new accounts. Someone at Verizon should track her down and have a short discussion about fooling with people’s time like it has no value.

And the first two people we talked to via the old school approach of calling customer support on the phone basically told us that it was too bad, and obviously stupid, but there was just no going back, no way to fix this except by going ahead with swapping the gear. But somehow Marcus — the new Verizon customer support contact via Twitter — was able to do what the other folks said was impossible, against the rules, immutable.

So, one of these things has to be true:

  1. There are processes in Verizon — like backing out of the account change that Marcus was able to accomplish — that other tech support people don’t know about, aren’t allowed to use, or are too lazy to perform.
  2. There is a super sort of tech support that we managed to find through Twittering, either because the personnel there have more authority or better knowledge, or else we got super service because I have 11,000 followers on Twitter, or because my mother recently died.

Also, I have learned that when people say ‘there is no way to do that’ it may not be true, especially when the thing that can’t be done is obvious and saves everyone time and money.

The lesson for Verizon to learn is about stupidity and intelligence. Don’t make your processes stupid. And hire more people like Marcus, who was obviously intelligent and well-trained, and knew how to do the thing everyone else said couldn’t be done, and then did it.