Saturday, August 16, 2008

Customer Service 101 - How to say you messed up

When other companies make mistakes that cost their customers time, energy, and patience, they make compensation and apologize. When Etsy does it, they shrug and offer baked goods or a moustache. A large online company had issues recently and sent a letter to all members to let them know. They offered compensation and an apology! Without anyone asking for it!

So I am offering Etsy a brief tutorial on customer service. It's just a beginner's lesson, and I'll make it easy. After all, old habits are hard to break! It's a form letter, an annotated version of the one received by the other company's customers, that can be used when things go fubar - as they often do. Remember, unless you apologize to all your members, it doesn't count.

We’re sorry to report that since 2006 we’ve been experiencing issues with our staff, so many of you have not received customer service in a timely manner and many of you have not received emails letting you know we dealt with your problem.
We pride ourselves in delighting you, and we’ve let you down. We apologize and are working around the clock to restore
a semblance of normal operations. To all of you whose service has been delayed, we’ll be automatically applying a credit to your next billing statement. Or, if you are new to Etsy and your first experience was not enjoyable, we recognize that this is not a good way to begin your membership and we’ll automatically extend your listings.
Our goal is to
respond to problems as soon as possible and to keep you updated. Again, we are sorry for the inconvenience we’ve caused you and thank you for your patience.

See Etsy, saying you're sorry doesn't hurt, I promise.


woolies said...

you should open a shop and sell the tutorial.
hmmm, then 80 thousand other shops would try to sell it too.
then somebody would call their lawyer or send threatening convos.
you could make a mint!!

sorry, rambling

the stinky one said...

You know, my mom once told me that owning up to my mistakes would make me a better person. That if I did something wrong, the punishment would be much worse if I lied about it than if I had told the truth, and she was always right.

Why can't Etsy follow that same logic? Why do they have to lie, hold back and hide the things they've done? Are they really under the misguided impression that if they are clever enough people will somehow not find out? And when they do, they make a much bigger deal out of it than they would have if you would have just told the truth from the beginning.

Etsy, you could so easily calm the seas in the forums if you would just a little common sense, continuity and follow-through with issues.

One prime example goes back to the days of 'haim on fire' and site outages and repairs. You'd give us a time frame that always went over the time given. And then we'd have to wait an hour or two past that before we got another update. And that timeframe was also incorrect. Why can't you give 3 times the amount of time you think you'll need and if you finish early, you guys are the heros, rather than every 2 hours telling us it'll be another 2 hours, and then another..this is where the frustration comes in.

If you are going to launch a new feature, and you think it might possibly be ready in 7 days, tell us 2 weeks. Again, underpromise and over deliver. This is just common sense.

I know you don't like to give us deadlines now, because on the morning of that date you have 50 posts asking about where it is. This wouldn't happen if you gave more time than you actually needed (figure in a cushion) and released it "early". By the same token, If even with the extra cusion if you can't make the date promised, you have plenty of time to let them know there will probably be another week delay.

I would have thought you would have learned from your past mistakes, you know the saying to get the same results, just keep doing what you've always done, but if you want different results then change what you are doing.

There are so many little things you could be doing right now that don't take a lot of time or money, just some dedication and a change in the way you look at the big picture.

justajewelrydesigner said...

I'M not holding MY breath!

Smarty Pants said...

The whole customer service thing baffles me. I work full time as the customer service supervisor for a company that runs 2 retail websites. I personally handle over 100 emails a day and field an equal amount of phone calls. A customer has a question, I answer it. A customer has an issue, I solve it. I thought this was common sense. Don't they have a dictionary in Brooklyn?

Mama V said...

I've been in a customer service environment for over a decade. One of our biggest issues is "Customer Trust" as it relates to satisfaction, retention, and growth. But we're a big, evil conglomerate.

Of course everyone trusts Underdog Etsy.

Fed up said...

The Customer Service issues at Etsy have always boggled my mind. I have worked in customer service for most of my life, and the main goal for Etsy should always be to keep their customers happy. It's the basic principle behind CS. If you have unhappy customers, they're going to tell everyone how unhappy they are. The problem Etsy has, I feel, is an ego problem. They think they're untouchable, and therefore unaccountable for the issues that their customers face on a daily basis. All that needs to happen is for Etsy to have a real competitor. Until that happens, there are going to be people signing up for $.20 cent unicorn rides ten times a day, just trying to keep from being buried in the mass-produced, reseller infested mess that Etsy has become.

The Dangerous Mezzo said...

I've felt for some time (certainly since the fall of 2007, almost a year ago) that Etsy actually has almost complete contempt for its sellers. There's this palpable feeling that they don't trust us, don't like us, and view us as an inconvenience or a distraction from whatever their real work may be. And what that real work is not entirely clear to me.

I believe this feeling is at the root of so many things that have gone wrong with the brilliant idea that was Etsy. Whether they started out hating their sellers, or grew to hate us -- they sure hate us now.

I'm really glad this blog is here -- the fora are a lonely place right now, which I'm sure puts a big smile on Admin's faces.

lessa said...

Why can't you give 3 times the amount of time you think you'll need and if you finish early, you guys are the heros, rather than every 2 hours telling us it'll be another 2 hours....

From the Urban Dictionary:
Scotty Principle

(n.) The defacto gold star standard for delivering products and/or services within a projected timeframe. Derived from the original Star Trek series wherein Lt. Cmdr. Montgomery 'Scotty' Scott consistently made the seemingly impossible happen just in time to save the crew of the Enterprise from disaster.

The premise is simple:

1) Caluculate average required time for completion of given task.

2) Depending on importance of task, add 25-50% additional time to original estimate.

3) Report and commit to inflated time estimate with superiors, clients, etc.

4) Under optimal conditions the task is completed closer to the original time estimate vs. the inflated delivery time expected by those waiting.
The following situation is a simulation of the Scotty Principle in practice.

Kirk: "The ship seems sluggish today. When was the last time you did a tune-up on the warp drive?"

Scotty: "Aye, sir. She's due. Last maintenance was 56 days ago."

Kirk: (light chuckle) "Well, what are you waiting for? An ambush from cloaked Romulans?"

Scotty: "I'll need to check how much dilithium we have in supply, but she'll be better than new in no time."

Kirk: "And that will be...?"

Scotty: "Six hours."

--- four hours later ---

Scotty: "All done, sir. Care to test her out?"

--- Enterprise taken rapidly to warp 3, does a few doughnuts, comes to a smooth stop ---

Kirk: "Scotty, there's no finer engineer in this quadrant!"

Maybe we should embroider it onto a banner to hang over top the cupcake table.

impetuous said...

Silly Bitches. There is no point to Etsy apologizing to everyone, it takes 48 hours for an email to reach every account. By that time the statute of limitations on apologies has expired.

are-they-serious said...

Customer service is overrated. Who needs good customer service skills when you have cupcakes?

zander said...

customer service? where? on etsy? they just realized that sellers are very unhappy? they used a freaking squash campaign to mute the descent, that's our new and improved customer service? right on track etsy, you never cease to amaze me. i at least hoped that maria would make improvements with the issues facing etsy. but sadly, do think rob picked his clone when it comes to customer service.

impetuous said...

did anyone else stop following rokali on twitter after his moonlight post? wtfwt?

elderberry said...

The last time I saw etsycorp act like they gave a shitwas after the 30 Hour Data Loss.

Since then, it's "Go frak yourself, you frakin Loser.
ps. Don't forget to renew on your way out..."

The Disgruntled One said...

Even Matt can't convincingly fake any real caring about what's going on anymore.

Admin clearly don't give a fuck.

That's intimately connected to the current bad vibes in the forums, and a growing number of restless natives are waking up and speaking up.