On Your Customers Blowing Gaskets

Why does an issue have to reach epic proportions before a solution that was requested from the beginning and could have been implemented immediately when the problem first arose when the company or person who caused the problem was contacted?

It seems in this day and age the larger the company the more the problems and their customer service albeit great is not at times helpful.

I would never dream of trying to upsell a customer when they are frantically experiencing recurrent issues. I couldn’t imagine saying to Customer Bob after they wrote asking where their order was “Well, that happens sometimes, perhaps next time you should consider purchasing Express shipping. If you need any more help… just let me know.”

In this circumstance Customer Bob likely would have opened a claim with Paypal and perhaps began bad mouthing me on the internet about something that I have no control over which in this case is postal shipping times.

What I do write when a concerned Customer Bob writes to me asking where their parcel is when it is well within my allowed time frame for delivery or why it’s taking so long to arrive, is:

Hi there (Name of Customer)

Thank you for writing. I shipped your order First Class Regular Mail via Canada Post on date XX and it usually takes about X to X weeks for an order to arrive to where you live in the United States from where I live in Canada from the date of shipment. Arrival time depends on how long your order takes to pass through international customs. And please rest assured, that if your order does not arrive at the end of five weeks I will most certainly do one of two things for you; refund your order in full or ship another (name of product) to you.

Thus far all 1300 plus orders I’ve shipped out have arrived safely to their final destinations around the globe. Knock on wood.

Please do write when your order arrives or if you have any other concerns, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Jessica Doyle
The blog – http://jessicadoyle.com

I have never received an angry response with this email and thus far (touch wood again) all orders that I’ve shipped out arrive within the time period that I stated. I’ve had one return, one exchange, one damaged item from shipping which I promptly replaced and even a couple of cancellations but overall things are very good and that is due in part to listening to the customers concerns and putting yourself in their shoes. I used the USA and Canada as an example as it seems to be the most common one that I encounter. Feel free to use the email response above that I write to customer’s with or to alter it for your own needs.

And one of these days shipping between Canada and the USA will not take so long. Are you listening Canada/USA customs?

This post was spurred onwards by a rolling recent event that I’m experiencing with my host. They finally made it right with me today and moved the databases for my sites to a less crowded MySQL smartgrid. I don’t understand why things had to get so out of control that I had to tweet about it. I also don’t understand how upselling another service to me would fix the problem when the problem shouldn’t exist in the first place.

I understand that sites goes down and I know that things can go amiss at times. And a good point about my host… my site was infected with malware a while back and I researched what the malware was and found the solution to remove it but as I didn’t understand how to run Shell commands I wrote to my host with my research and they performed the command line for me which is in turn cleaned my site. I run a business too and expect things to crazy at times but 200 times was a little too much 😉

I’m doing my best on my end to learn everything I can about running two sites. I’m looking into W3 Super Cache and also looking into hosting alternatives. Sadly, though the caching won’t help at all if my sites are down or timing out on the server end. I monitor my sites on Pingdom. So should you.

In the end there is nothing wrong with upselling after the initial problem is fixed. And when a problem is fixed do say thank you. BUT Never upsell from the beginning when there is an existing problem that is not the customer’s fault. I get customer’s who write occasionally asking from the beginning before they place an order if I can Express ship their order. I write them back explaining how much extra it will cost them and the difference in delivery times and if they agree to my terms and pay the cost, I do ship their order Express.

Today is the first day in 30 days that I have not received an alert from Pingdom that my sites were timing out or down. Thank you MediaTemple for making things right with me. I may consider the grid container in the very near future. I’m weighing my options.

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5 thoughts on “On Your Customers Blowing Gaskets”

  1. Hi Jessica-

    We spoke at one time in the past regarding another issue that you were having with (mt) Media Temple. I wanted to first apologize for the experience that you had. All too often, when our support representatives see a customer on the (gs) Grid-Service having database problems, the automatic response has become to suggest a GridContainer. While this will resolve the problems that you were having, it’s not the only answer, as you’ve experienced.

    I don’t think that we have any policies in place at this time to migrate a user to a different MySQL smart pool. However, given the success of your situation, I am going to suggest to our Customer Service Leadership Group that we address this. We will make sure to communicate to our Customer Service representatives to discourage the up selling as well.

    Thank you for your feedback. It’s always highly appreciated. I’m glad that everything is working for you now. If anything should come up in the future, you’re more than welcome to contact me directly travis [at] mediatemple.net

  2. Stay away from the SQL container. I was upsold same as you last year after endless latency, lost database connections, etc. since 2008. Finally I thought I’d try to container. I think I got a month for free. Well it helped somewhat but got worse over time. Being moved to a new cluster later really helped…but things got worse over time, again.

    Watch how things always get really bad in Jan-Feb. It’s clear to me that they oversell the service and are unable to balance loads or bring the database clusters into reasonably fast response times. After the Christmas promotionals, they get smacked. The old shared server plans were fine–this is all the grid and only the grid. But the company lies and lies and denies and denies. It’s not getting better, it actually gets worse over time.

    I’ve had as many as three grid accounts at once on different clusters, I’ve monitored and benchmarked them all against several inexpensive shared hosts, and the speed/uptime is just deplorable. I have never seen anything as bad. You may get on their “special treatment” list for a while, but for me that lasted only a few months and cost me $40/mo for what I can easily get for $5, 10, 20. I mean simple, optimized WordPress sites, nothing fancy, not a lot of traffic.

  3. Hi Travis – Yes, I remember talking earlier this year.

    I still experienced four very small downtimes due to timeouts yesterday but when compared to earlier this month the uptime and latency my sites were experiencing is much much much better.

    Thanks for popping by and for your email.

  4. Dan, I get an average 9,000 to 25,000 visitors per month and host two sites on the same grid. I barely use any bandwidth (about 1/20 or less of what is allowed) and use about 1/4 to 1/2 of the GPU allowed by MediaTemple per month. I’m by no means hogging resources on the cluster my sites sit on that I’m aware of. I also only use 1.9GB of storage.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  5. Jess, you can use text expansion to make typing those customer emails faster. I have started using it and it’s a lot faster.

    I’ve had one really bad customer and he was a total ass with me. He lives in the UK and was really anal. In the end, problems just multiplied, not just on my end, but also from my suppliers. The issue was resolved when the suppliers refunded him. In the end, I lost money on this transaction. I should have followed my initial gut instinct, which was to pass on that transaction.

    Since then, I try to listen to my instincts more when dealing with customers. I’m not afraid of refusing a sale to an anal customer, since I know that I will get problems from them in the future.

    Cheers and best wishes, oh and happy birthday!

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