The Customer From Hell

The Customer From Hell
I’m a hard-sell when it comes to customer service. I have pretty low expectations, and it bothers me when they’re not met. So let me get those expectations out in the open so you can see that I’m not a crazy-man.

The short list is:

  1. Work with me, and dont make excuses.
  2. If your company’s screw-up or mistake affects me adversely, you’re going to have to own up to it and compensate me for my trouble.
  3. Follow up, and fix problems, not symptoms.

The longer list is in the form of an advisory:

  • “No” should not be in your vocabulary. If you tell me it can’t be done, I’ll tell you that if you escalate it high enough, there’s someone who can make it happen now and you should be prepared to escalate to that level if you need to.
  • Customer service is for the 0.0001 percent of customers who experience problems.
  • That 0.0001 percent of customers will tell 100 percent of their friends.
  • Customer service is what you do when things go wrong. It is not covered by your procedures or call center scripts.
  • They’re your processes and procedures, make them work or break them.
  • If it’s your core business activity, be competent. If something goes wrong, own up to it, and fix it.
  • If you make a mistake and it affects me, you need to compensate me.
  • If you need to compensate me, it needs to be overwhelming.
  • There is no such thing as a private customer service conversation. Companies record them for quality control, I post them on my blog and live-tweet them.
  • I can out-wait you on the phone. If you can’t fix my problem I’m not getting off the line. At some point the call-monitor is going to let a supervisor know you’ve been on a call for way too long. And then I’ll speak to them.
  • Your Director of Customer Service is on your Web site’s About Us page. I’m pretty sure I can figure out his email address and let him know, by name, which of his customer service people are naughty, and which are nice.

Okay, maybe I am a crazy man.

I recently had this experience with GoDaddy (which I’m going to talk about at length), who clearly did not know that I have these guidelines which I, perhaps irrationally, expect them to operate under. GoDaddy also announced today that they’ve been sold for $2.25 billion. I hope that some investment in their customer service staffing is on the agenda, because they need to improve it. Urgently, and significantly. Just read on if you don’t believe me.

The Problem

Tuesday. 2:50pm
I decide I’m moving my blog to WordPress. So I set up the WordPress account and then go to GoDaddy to set up hosting.
All I need to do is:

  1. Set up a new hosting account.
  2. Remove from my current hosting account, set a new domain name as the primary domain for the current hosting account.
  3. Add as the primary domain name on the WordPress hosting account.

Easy, right?

For the rest of Tuesday I’m stuck at step 2, which shows as “Pending” on my account, but the process could take as long as 24 hours, according to the pop-up message when I switched the domain name on the hosting account. So I’m not too concerned.

Wednesday 3:54pm
Twenty-five hours have passed and I still can’t use my preferred domain name on my WordPress hosting account. Which means I can’t upload the WordPress software to my domain, which means I can’t get into working with it.

So I call. I’m not going to use any names here, but I’m told that there was a problem, and that the event is going to be replayed, and while it could take as many as 72 hours, these things are usually done inside 24 hours. Great, another day wasted, but at least I know when I’ll be up and running, right?

Phone time: 10:01 – Total Phone Time: 10:01

Thursday 9:22am
I get this email from GoDaddy:
Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. The issue with changing the domain name on your hosting account has been addressed and is resolved. The primary domain name on your hosting account has been updated and you are now able to access without issue. If you continue to experience delivery or access problems after today please let us know. We appreciate your patience and understanding in this matter.

Please contact us if you have any further issues.

So if the problem has been “addressed and is resolved” you’d think I should be able to use on my WordPress hosting, because it’s no longer associated with the other hosting account, right?


So I make the call, and I’m told that the event failed again, and that it will be replayed, but it would be another day before the change would show on my account.

I ask why, if the event had failed, did I receive an email saying it was “addressed and resolved?” That was an error. Really? You think I can’t deduce that, GoDaddy? I know it’s an error, but what it tells me is that someone opened a ticket, someone closed a ticket, someone didn’t check if the ticket had actually been resolved. Incompetence or laziness is my guess.

Phone Time: 36:50 – Total Phone Time: 46:51

Friday 10:55am
Another 24 hours has passed and I’m still stuck at pending. The first person I talk to tries to explain what happened and why they need to replay the even and why that will take another 24 hours.

It bothers me that I had to raise my voice and tell him to stop talking. It bothers me that he was more interested in explaining what went wrong (though not how or why) and telling me that there’s nothing that can be done other than replaying the event. “It’s so rare that this happens” he assures me. Well, it’s happened to me three days in a row, so it doesn’t feel particularly rare to me.

My feeling is that if it’s failed three times in a row, maybe someone needs to start the event, make sure it succeeds, and keep trying until it works. I’m informed, in a tone that’s more than a little annoyed, that the process doesn’t work that way.

I ask to speak to someone who can make sure that it doesn’t fail this time. I’m informed there isn’t anyone. I am pretty sure that’s a lie. I ask to speak to a supervisor, and I’m told that “you can speak to a supervisor, but they do the exact same things, and they’ll tell you exactly what I just did.” Which begs the question: what do GoDaddy supervisors get paid for if they don’t have any additional authority? It took several minutes and several requests to get a supervisor. That’s just bad customer service. In the end the impatient techie says he’ll put me onto a supervisor “who won’t be able to help me any more than he already has.”

But he was wrong.

The supervisor agreed that the process failing was unusual, but that he would talk to the admins and have them replay the event, he’d call me back as soon as he had an answer.

Phone Time: 38:00 – Total Phone Time: 84:51

Friday 12:14pm
The supervisor talked to the admins and came back with their answer: they’ll replay the event at 2:48pm, and that would fix it. 2:48pm Pacific, so 5:48pm Eastern. In about 6 hours. But that was the best he could do.

Phone Time: 7:06 – Total Phone Time: 91:57

And that’s when I started tweeting.

How to Make Frenemies and Influence Customer Service Outcomes

So the issue was fixed faster when I started tweeting. And while I’m happy that GoDaddy have someone monitoring this stuff, I shouldn’t have to start attacking their brand in order to get adequate customer service. It should be a reasonably simple process to empower front-line reps to fix problems. Using social media to protect your brand rather than engage and deliver great service isn’t going to work long-term. Engagement needs to happen on the phone and on the Web site, not just in social space. Customers will see that the interest here isn’t in improving customer experience, it’s in managing complaints and getting the squeaky wheel to shut up before it does more damage.
Valuing Your Customer, the GoDaddy Way (ie. Not much.)

For the record, it’s July 4th, and I’m still waiting for a response from GoDaddy that makes me feel like they really value me as a customer. $5 makes me feel like they don’t value me at all. Hopefully by sharing this post on Twitter and letting them know just how badly I feel they screwed up, how unengaged they were, how it took an hour-and-a-half on the phone to get almost nowhere, and how I haven’t felt, at any stage, like GoDaddy care about whether I am a customer of theirs or someone else’s, I can influence them to reconsider their valuation of future business I might transact with them. Or not.
What I do know is that GoDaddy were engaged on Twitter until they said “here’s $5” and they haven’t responded to me for three days. That’s not what being an engaged social space company is about. It’s not about paying me off, it’s about making me feel valued.

Feel free to message me or comment to let me know that my demands are both extreme and irrational. What do you think GoDaddy do to make this experience right? Would you be angry with this service, or do you think that it’s acceptable?

Let me know…

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