As I mentioned in my last post, after a recent hard drive failure I tried to access my reddit account, I also tried to contact Mozy (who I’m using for online backups of my data) but I found it was impossible to find either a suitable “firstname.lastname@example.org” type email address or a web page where I could enter some text into a box and click “Send”. In short, these companies have made it nigh on impossible to actually get in contact with them. Eventually I sent a tweet to reddit, which they’ve ignored, and I worked around the Mozy problem. But what I find annoying is that when I want to have a relationship with a company they do their best to prevent it from happening. When I want something from them they give me the cold shoulder but as I’ve noted in the past, when they want something from me they aren’t coy about asking for it.
Valve is another company that go out of their way to not have to interact with their customers. Ever tried to contact their support? Good luck with that, you go onto a merry-go-round of link clicking until you can find a box on a support page to enter text into then the first line you usually put is “This has nothing to do with the topic of this page but I couldn’t find any other way to contact you.” You see company X, a lot of the time your list of “does this question answer your problem” pages doesn’t cut it and I need to provide a description of the problem. Don’t get me wrong, the FAQ is a useful tool but stop using it as a shield to avoid talking to your customers.
It’s a similar thing with Twitter, far too often companies use Twitter as a one way marketing funnel, spewing out vacuous nonsense and fluffery to their followers but as soon as you have a question for them they fall silent, I’m looking at you reddit.
Just about every company I can think of does this nonsense nowadays or, worse still, they think that they can “crowd source” their support and let one of their users provide the answer for free. This is why support forums are so popular with companies nowadays, they are easy to set up, cheap to run and you get your users to do all the actual work. But here’s the thing, your users may be wrong and there is no guarantee that I’ll get an answer, your set and forget forums and FAQs don’t always cut it. Sometimes you need a human being to be available.
So company X, you need to do better, sometimes I need more than canned answers and forums that may or may not be answered, sometimes I want to have a relationship with you, especially when I am giving you money.