technical support frustration

People get confused by technology, so they reach out to their providers for help and guidance.

Unfortunately not everyone is good humoured or patient about it (and that’s on both sides).

Earlier today I was trying to sort out a rather annoying issue I had with Flickr (it was of my own making – not Flickr’s), so I opened a support ticket.

What amused me, however, was the response from their system:

We’d also like to take an opportunity to remind you that one query is sufficient and multiple queries regarding the same issue make the Magic Donkey cry.

I’m seriously tempted to add something similar to our automated replies, though I’m not sure if all our clients would appreciate the humour!

No matter how hard you try to provide a reasonable level of service there will be issues.

No matter how many happy clients a company / supplier / service provider may have, there will always be a certain number of people who simply cannot be satisfied.

It took me quite some time to “come to grips” with that. I always take negative feedback we receive quite seriously, but I also have to realise that in some cases there simply is no way to please all clients all of the time. All you can really hope to do is “your best” and if there is a breakdown in communication then you can try to learn from the mistake and improve the process and the experience moving forward.

When we first started out we did not attract “mainstream” clients. We were dealing more with the “geeks” than with the “normal” business types. Over time our client base has grown considerably and has widened.

We’ve changed the way we interact with our clientele and as the number of staff has mushroomed, we’ve also had to change how we deal with each other internally. To that end I’ve spent quite a bit of time in meetings with staff over the last few months working on ways to improve and streamline processes. We still need to improve on a lot of things, but we’re getting there … one step at a time.

But let’s come back to the Flickr email for a moment…

Flickr do several things in that email that really impress me. On the one hand they’ve reassured me that they’ve got my query, while also showing me that they can be good humoured about it all, while still being efficient and professional. But more importantly, from my perspective, is that they’ve gently but firmly told me not to bug them with an issue I’ve already highlighted, as it won’t speed up the resolution.

On our end we have several methods of communication open to our clients to help them get the answers they need in a reasonably timely fashion.

We expose our server status 24/7/365, so people should be able to see what’s going on with most of our “shared” services immediately. If there is an issue 9 times out of 10 we’ll be already working on a resolution by the time anyone spots it (there have been some odd cases where that didn’t work out, so I’m hedging my bets!).

Clients can of course submit queries to our technical support staff either online or via email, and we do our best to post any outage / maintenance / service affecting issues on the status site, which we host completely outside our network (it doesn’t even use our dns).

We are going to be expanding and updating the resources available in our support centre in the coming weeks and months (as someone pointed out to me earlier this week several of the Mac tutorials are out of date!)

However, there probably are things that we could do better, so if anyone has any suggestions please feel free to share them with us, either in the comments here or email me directly ( lands in my inbox).

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