Today’s TekFail comes courteous of LastPass the online password manager. I’ve been using LastPass for the last couple of years and have come to love its simple interface and painless transition from Norton’s Password Vault. Best of all it is free for the web version only. Recently I’ve found myself stuck trying to sign into an app or website while away from my pc. LastPass offers a premium version that allows you to access your entire vault of usernames and passwords securely from within its mobile app. A couple of months ago I sprung for the chance at a free two month trial offer delivered to my inbox just to see if I could justify the paid leap. At the end of two months I could not and simply let it expire. This though was just not good enough for them. The emails began a month before my trial period was over and so far continue more than three weeks since it ended. In the final month I got six emails from them reminding me that my trial subscription was due to expire. When I let it expire I expected at least one followup. After three in a week I was fed up. I’m all for a sales pitch, in fact it was their original sales pitch by email that got me to sign up for the trial period in the first place. What irks me is nine emails in less than five weeks just to get me to renew. It’s borderline harassment in my book. It’s not like I quit using their service altogether. A simple check of my account usage through a feeble query algorithm would’ve established that I was still using their online service. Instead though I could count only a handful of emails in the last 2 years as a customer they’re now hounding me almost daily. This has decidedly turned me off as a customer almost completely.
On the 9th email about renewing my subscription I decided to fire back a reply. In it I wrote simply, “I know already. You’re previous 8 emails told me so. Stop harassing me about it!” I expected either a canned response about how to contact them for support or maybe even a mail undeliverable return reply. What I got instead is the reason why I’ve given LastPass a TekFail today. I got an email describing they’ve responded to my service ticket request. Service ticket request..huh? That’s right they opened a customer service ticket based on my sarcastic response. I again ignored this email. Two days later I was emailed a reminder to the first email about my alleged service ticket request. This time I read it and opened the link to the service ticket. Naturally it offered me instructions on how to access my account settings and change my email preferences. Incredulous! It was also clear that it would likely continue to hound me unless I officially responded and closed the request. I did and in the comments section I wrote, “The simple fact that you created a ticket for my snarky email shows that you just don’t get it. Point being that just because I’m a customer and I entrusted you with my email address doesn’t mean you have to abuse this trust. I’m not changing any settings. Just leave me alone.” That last comment I think just about sums it up for me. Companies and services think since you’ve entrusted them with your email address even as a customer paid or not they have cart blanche on spamming it. News flash, if I’m already a customer and I continue using your service, be happy and just leave me alone already!
Today is the official start of the NFL football season and to celebrate it I’ve received two emails and counting from ESPN. One was a reminder that “NFL is back and ESPN has you covered” and the other was a reminder to download the fantasy football app. Last week I got the same reminder emails about college football and their corresponding ESPN College Football App. Seems like harmless notifications right? When I already own both apps and have likewise signed into both with the same credentials that included the very email address these emails were blasted to I find these emails decidedly repetitive and annoying. This post could be considered a bit of an overreaction but my frustrations go way beyond these emails; they just serve to illustrate a point. The point is, those emails were dumb. Ok so now I sound juvenile right? Couldn’t I have used a more eloquent word than dumb. Nope. There are at least two factors that qualify something as simply dumb. The first is could it have been avoided? The second…see factor #1. In the case of the ESPN example a simple algorithm in ESPN’s databases could very easily have filtered out anybody who has downloaded those apps by corresponding registered emails. The emails were simply pointless to me an already engaged app user. Is there anything wrong with a reminder email, no but folks these were not reminders emails, they were blatant pitches to download their apps. A separate reminder email encouraging me to engage with the app would have been just fine and frankly expected if I had opted in to subscribe to their alerts and correspondence. Junk mail. Purely avoidable. Dumb. ESPN has the means to know that I already own their apps and use them. Read More
With this post I will begin a four-part series that examines the importance and relevance of good customer service. For each post I will cover a specific customer service theme and as the title suggests I will offer real world examples good, bad, and ugly. For my first post I’ve chosen a theme that I believe is at the heart of what customer service means – helping. In this day and age of easy access to online forums, help articles, how-to videos, etc. it is easy to suggest that customer service doesn’t quite hold the importance it once did but that notion is easily dispelled the second you get a flat, or your AC goes out on a blazing August day, or you’ve made an honest mistake when paying a bill. In times of crisis we are sometimes forced to rely on good old-fashioned customer service be it via phone, in store, or online and nothing is worse than when you are at your most vulnerable and need help you get hit with fees and fees for fees! We’ve all experienced that sinking feeling when you ask for help and the response is “Sure, that’ll be $195 including service fees”. It begs the question, should customer service cost? The short answer is technically yes, because customer service, like parts and labor, costs companies and must be accounted for somewhere but we the consumers just don’t like to pay for it when we need it most. I’m no different; it’s like pouring salt on an open wound when I have to pay additional fees for an unexpected expense. Below I will go into a few personal examples I think illustrate how to properly service a customer and keep a customer because let’s face it bad customer service equates to lost customers.
I visited Salesforce.com today to find out what the hub bub I’ve been hearing recently was all about. I come across at least one mention a day about the workforce service company and my own employer recently instituted it for it’s sales and marketing folks. Working in engineering I was left out so I decided to hop over to the site for an in depth looksy maybe see if I can find some usable tools for my team. On the home screen was a link to the obligatory demo videos you usually find for enterprise sites so naturally I clicked on it. What it took me to precisely sums up everything that companies so easily miss about providing a good consumer/customer experience – a form. Oh yes, it wanted to know my name company, address, email, and phone number before it promised to give me unfettered access to their products’ demo videos. Folks this is like saying you have to fill out a form before you can watch the next Apple commercial! It’s getting so that every site you go, every place you shop wants you to fill something out. For crying out loud I came to you to shop, let me shop already!!!! There aren’t enough exclamation marks for that last statement!
Some marketing guru decides they need to gather as many metrics as possible to market effectively that they’ve forgotten one basic metric – what turns off their customers? Why did they walk out of the store empty handed or clicked that ‘X’ to your site without emptying their virtual cart? Forms aren’t going to give you that metric because your customer is gone the second you thrust one at them. The only information you need is my credit card number when I pay and that’s ALL that should matter! Asking me twenty questions on the card swipe screen feels an awful lot like entrapment! Have you ever thought to yourself “Well I’ve already swiped my card so they’ve got my information so I guess I better answer all these stupid questions?” As long as we’re talking about swiping credit cards why on earth don’t they just say CREDIT; why must I press CANCEL for credit (it’s a rhetorical question of course, it’s because of the difference in fees banks charge between debit and credit transactions but that’s beside the point I’m making)? Why does paying have to be so complicated (self checkout stations)? I’ve already shopped with you, I’ve placed goods on your sales counter, I’m now handing you my payment now stop selling me something and say “Thank You!” That would be good customer service right? Finally use some common sense already because I’m not going to open up Target Red Card to save 5% on a $4.32 purchase! I could go on and will soon in an upcoming look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of customer service. Stay tuned.