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The Good and Bad in Customer Service

Lately, I've noticed a lot of automated emails/texts from companies I pay for service. There's a distinct difference in those that I am happy to do business with and those I begrudgingly do business with while I look for alternatives. 

The biggest difference is how they handle customer service. What I like:

  • They answer the phone on the second ring. Often, with a human. Or some simple voice response system that gets me to a human after one choice.
  • They automatically verify me with something they send me in real-time; like to the  email/text message in their system, or ask me to enter a code from my time-based one time password app. 
  • I never have to talk to anyone, I can just chat with someone right now--and not a stupid bot feeding me keywords from a frequently asked questions file.
  • They don't load up their emails with tracking links.

Let's make this more clear.


take my money!

And then there is everyone else. It's a waste of time to deal with the opposite of the four bullet points above. Here's just the latest example, because it landed in my inbox tonight as I was writing this up. Thanks for failing, Discord. And now for pedantry.

Let's take this apart. Note the content of the email "the best relationships have great communication"....says the company sending from a "no reply" email address. Nothing says "great communication" like "we don't want to hear from you...but pay us anyway."

I once banned noreply@* from my email server, but it blocked 99% of corporate emails, including ones I needed. It also started a hilarious mail loop with one provider which almost took down their email system. They were angry, nay INCENSED, my postmaster@ email was noreply-postmaster@ and bounced the message,which they then bounced back because noreply@company didn't exist. HA! The head of IT called me up and angrily stated "YOU CANNOT SEND FROM NOREPLY@!!!" To which I simply responded, "you did, which started all of this". Yes, pedantic, but hilariously so.

How do you contact Discord then?

They provide three ways, NONE OF WHICH ARE ON DISCORD!  All are wrapped in tracking links, which my email client bans clicking because it intercepts the tracking link as potential malware infection vectors.

What are the methods?

  1. Their support site,
  2. Their Twitter account,
  3. Their feedback site,

Why can't I just reply to the sending address? Gateways for email to ticketing systems have been around for decades. Why not do something cool and go email to discord support chat? Why can't I chat them on discord? Why can't I text them from the phone number on the account? So many possibilities to have a "great conversation" with their paying customers.

Sigh.  I've cancelled my subscriptions with them and encouraged online friends to join a decentralized system, like Element or Jami

Ending on a Positive Note

A positive example of a great experience as a customer is Patagonia. Every interaction I've had with Patagonia, either in-store or online shopping, has been positive. They answer the phone with a human, they listen, they offer solutions to whatever happened (wrong size, clothing defects, etc), and make it easy to return or buy more. Most of my wardrobe is from Patagonia for this reason (and all the other reasons to support them like their eco-conscious footprint, fair trade practices, etc). If only they could tailor the clothes for a better fit. 

Another positive experience is the former BodyBody store in Provincetown. Every time we went in there, the staff listened to what we liked, suggested pieces to look at and try on, and gave honest feedback if the clothes fit well or needed further tailoring. When I had to return something, they happily took it back and offered a few alternatives as a replacement. 

And finally, my most surprisingly positive customer experience was with AT&T Wireless. I needed a hotspot since I was traveling to someplace remote. I called them, they answered, they pointed out the options on their website, and said unfortunately they couldn't guarantee delivery of the hotspot in time for my trip. However, the representative checked local stores and reserved one for me near the airport. I walked into the store, they had the hotspot ready to go, and 5 minutes later, I walked out with a fully functional hotspot, prepaid data plan, and it just worked. 

Great customer service does exist. Don't put up with anything less.