Customer service is just one of those things. It’s one of those things where you’re either satisfied, or you’re not. There really shouldn’t be a middle ground. Part of being satisfied as a customer is the feeling of empowerment. If I’m taking the time to plow through your website for an email address (or a support page), compose a coherent email for your sake, proofread my own email, press send, and then pray to God that you’ll reply within a few days time, then the least you can do for me is to make me feel welcome, supported, and comfortable.
1 AM is usually the time when I take some time to update my photography website. I write into BigFolio support for help in migrating my Flash site to a redesigned HTML5 site.
The next day, a customer support agent writes back nonchalantly to resolve the first half of my question. Did he even read my email? Does he know that I’m a valuable customer because I pay over $100 a month there? But that’s fine. I can just write back politely and continue our conversation. As I examine the notification email for a suitable action, I notice a comment, for which I assume is a joke, that reads:
Deem solved? The customer service agent barely even answered a third of my questions. How is that resolving my problems? There are two possibilities at play here. Either the agent is not qualified for his position, or the helpdesk system is flawed in more ways than desirable. I click through to the website with hopes of finding a way to reopen the ticket. Bam!
What am I logging in to? I thought I was talking to a customer support agent at BigFolio? Shouldn’t they know who I am since he JUST replied to me? Why should I need to log in? What username and ID should I use? Is this the same as my BigFolio login? Who am I signing up with? What would I want to use my Twitter account? Are they assuming I know what OpenID is? Hello?? This is way too painful.
A conversation should be “deemed solved” when the conversation is over. A natural ending to a conversation might simply be when both parties say thank you. Resolution isn’t an action. It’s a state. The state in which conversations begin and end shouldn’t be controlled by a button but by the context and direction of a conversation. It’s perfectly okay for agents to mark a conversation as resolved in order to remove clutter and to streamline workflow. It’s not okay for a business to reveal this information to customers. It’s obnoxious, annoying, and unwelcoming. I now find myself back at the website filling out another support form describing my previous conversation, hoping that the same agent will get the email. Fortunately, he did. Unfortunately, he once again failed to answer my question. Instead, he gave me a one-sentence reply and deemed the ticket “resolved”. Again. I’m struggling to find a single sane reason for why a customer needs to know whether or not a conversation has been “solved”.
I might blame BigFolio for the lack of training of its staff. I might also blame BigFolio for using a helpdesk system that puts a company’s workflow ahead of its customers. The point is simple, the process of interacting with customers shouldn’t be any different than emailing a friend. We feel perfectly at ease asking for help, looking for favors, asking to stay in touch, checking in, and sending kisses via email with friends and family. Should customer service be any different? Shouldn’t that define customer service?