03.15.07

Businesses: Bad Customer Experiences are Always Your Fault

Posted in Musings, Personal at 9:25 am by Stephanie Bryant

I would like to ask every company that charges for customer service calls what the hell you think you’re doing. In what universe do you have the moral high ground when you charge users for something that is entirely your fault?

If you get a service call from a customer, and the customer says “It’s broken,” then it is your fault. The vast majority of people do not abuse the things they’ve paid for. They don’t skijump off of them (or onto them), they don’t modify them, they don’t void their warranties. Heck, most people don’t even use them the way they originally intended, because they’re so afraid to break the crappy, Made-in-China results of your manufacturing empire.

Now, I know what you’re going to say. You’re going to say “the customers just don’t know how to use it properly.” That is your fault, too. You think I’m going to blame you for not providing a decent manual, a good online help system, right? I mean, I’m a tech writer– obviously the solution to every problem is documentation, right? Well, no. Frankly, if the user can’t figure out your product, it’s not a documentation problem, but it’s still your problem. It starts before documentation, with design. If you don’t design your product well, customer support calls are entirely your fault.

Documentation should help the user learn how to use the product, but the design should also do that for them. If your documentation is a series of specifications, twenty-five step lists for completing a procedure, blurry photographs instead of well-drawn diagrams, and lacks an index, then you need to pick up the phone and answer your user’s calls, for free and with as much patience as you would show your own grandmother.