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Mistakes were made

New York City meets Munich

August 29th, 2001 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Those pesky customers!

(Editor’s note, September 20th, 2001: While I still agree with the sentiments expressed in this post, I posted Joe Williams e-mail without getting permission, and in hindsight, that was hugely inappropriate. I apologized to Joe about this, and he was gracious enough to forgive me this breech. I’ve left this post as is as a reminder of my own ability to get carried away sometimes. In the future, I will never post anything from someone’s email sent to me without asking first.)

Yesterday’s exchange of emails between myself a Joe had a final round in the wee hours, when Joe responded, and I replied. This is the very slightly edited dialog. If you didn’t see last night’s entry, you might want to start there first.

Joe Williams wrote

Alex Shaffer replied

And, if we clock the time of the first request to your response, we are past 48 hours, and closing in pretty close to 72. It was 5AM my time on Sunday. Two full business days, and a full weekend day. But, if you are going to throw a sarcastic gasp my way, I’m going to point it out. Fair’s fair.

Calling the purchase of additional character a “personal request” is a bit disingenuous, seeing as there is no other documented process to do it. I’d have used another mechanism to do it if one was available or known to me. Remember also this “request” involves me putting money in your hands. I’d call it a “purchase.”

Joe Williams wrote

Alex Shaffer replied

Joe Williams wrote

Alex Shaffer replied

Joe Williams wrote

Alex Shaffer replied

Do not confuse player/gamemaster transactions with customer service transactions. That’s just guilt-trip bullshit, and blame-the-player nonsense. You’re not doing me a personal favor, I’m a customer. I am paying you.

I expect every company I do business with to attempt to be professional. Even professionals can screw up, but when they do, they take their lumps, try to learn from them, apologize, and move on. They do NOT take it out on the customer. It is not my fault you don’t have an easy way to get a new character. It is not my fault you took almost 3 full days to reply to me. It is not my fault your web site has no information about ordering characters. It is not my fault your GMs can’t help with questions about ordering characters.

Yes, it would probably be a lot less work if customers didn’t order things. Sometimes it seems like Delta Tao is working hard to make this happen.

Joe Williams wrote

Alex Shaffer replied

Joe Williams wrote

Alex Shaffer replied

I sent two emails in two days and got silence. Now I know you are a busy guy, so I thought that maybe there was another way to do this that wouldn’t bother you.

The more I looked and the more I asked around, the more I realized that character ordering was a complete, neglected mess. And it made me think “What am I doing? Delta Tao doesn’t care about Clan Lord. The company is making no investment in promoting and selling the product. I’m wasting $20.”

Joe Williams wrote

Alex Shaffer replied

Too bad our emails just happened to pass in the night. I’m sorry if it was a hassle for you Joe.

Joe Williams wrote

Alex Shaffer replied

Joe Williams wrote

Alex Shaffer replied

You know what, Joe. Next month, you can bill me an extra $20, and just keep it. You can even add on $5 to cover your chargeback fee, if you get hit with one. It’s not about the money. It’s the principle. It’s about doing the right thing for the game, and doing the right thing by your customers.

1. I’ve identified that your support staff don’t know what the process to order characters are.

2. I’ve pointed out the web site doesn’t tell people how to buy more characters.

3. I’ve called attention to a process bottleneck of a single key person handling orders.

None of those things are my fault. None of these things are new. Most are over a year old.

This reminds of me a novice webmaster who made a site that only works in special conditions. Of course, on the webmaster’s machine, it worked great. One day he gets an email from a user, saying that he can’t get the site to work.

“It must just be you,” says the webmaster. “No one else has a problem.”

Meanwhile hundreds of people just click the back button and can’t be bothered with writing an email. Traffic withers away, and no more complaints come.

You yourself said that you aren’t exactly getting overwhelmed with character orders. Hmm! Maybe that’s because people can’t figure out how? Or you haven’t made it easy enough? Smells like a process and usability problem to me. The good news is that if you address it, it means more money for you.

Joe Williams wrote

Alex Shaffer replied

I told you from the start this isn’t personal. It’s more than the delay, Joe. The delay just led to me looking around and assessing the state of the Clan Lord product, and Delta Tao’s efforts in sustaining it. What I see doesn’t encourage me personally. It’s like you are just marking time, and getting by with as little effort as possible.

As a player, that doesn’t motivate me. As a customer, it makes me very hesitant to commit more of my money.

I’m not trying to threaten you, Joe. I know in the scheme of things, you don’t give a crap about my money. I’m not trying to insult you. I’m not trying to make demands.

I’m telling you that I’m sad that you are letting Clan Lord die with this benign neglect that’s apparent in all these things I listed, and I can’t invest more of myself in it, financially or emotionally.

If I had gotten a response of “Gee, we really should fix this stuff! Sorry about that!” I’d think “Oh, well, wait, there seems to be a sincere interest in making an effort to sell and support the game.” But instead, I got a “Well, thanks for making me work extra. If you don’t like it, leave. Complainer. What the hell is your problem?”

Not the stuff of warm fuzzies.

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