LearnMake your customers happier with this simple tip


writes on February 27, 2007

I got a pretty good beating on the blogosphere 🙂 for my post about handling abusive customers. It was well deserved and I’ve learned my lesson.

Another important lesson

In addition to remembering that the customer is always right, the most important thing I’ve learned through doing all the support for DropSend and Amigo is this:

Make it easy to help your customers.

Sounds obvious right? Well, believe it or not, it’s the small details that happen during the build of the app, that will determine how easy it’ll be to help your customers.

Here are some things you should build into your app’s back end in order to make customer service easier:

Simple search for users accounts

You will get tons of emails from customers saying things like “Please cancel my account” or “What plan am I using?” or “Can you re-send me my last two invoices?”, etc.

It’s insane, but I actually have to page through thousands of accounts in DropSend, in order to find someone’s account so I can answer those questions. I can’t do a simple search based on their first/last name or email address.

Building a simple user account search (name or email address) will allow you to quickly help your customers. If it’s quicker for you, you’re more likely to be helpful to your customer because it takes one minute, instead of ten!

Allow token gestures of kindness

There will be plenty of times when a user encounters a bug and they’ll be pissed off.

You can apologize and promise you’ll fix the bug ASAP, but that won’t really make your customer feel any better. If you can easily do one of the following, it’s likely they’ll forget about their frustrations and they’ll keep using their account:

  1. Give them one free month of service
  2. Refund their last invoice
  3. Give them some extra free usage (ie in DropSend, we can give them an extra 15 files sends for that month)

If you can’t easily do these things in your app’s backend, you’ll find yourself dragging your heels when it comes to helping your customers.

For example, if you have to contact your book keeper to refund invoices, instead of simply clicking a button in the app’s backend, you won’t do it as often as you should.

Reduce that friction

Making it easier for you to help customers will dramatically improve the quality of your customer service.

Make sure to spend the extra time on the app’s backend and you’ll see a huge payoff in happy customers!


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0 Responses to “Make your customers happier with this simple tip”

  1. ziggy on May 8, 2007 at 6:22 am said:

    >>the customer is always right

    No, they’re not, and in fact you want to get rid of your worst customers who are eating up all your time and resources and annoying your already busy staff. You want them to go to your competitors and ruin their business. In fact, the best thing you can do is get rid of the worst 10% of your customers and concentrate on the rest and getting more like them.

    That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t solve/avoid problems, but the customer is not always right and many you don’t want as customers, especially if you are a small overburdened business.

  2. Hi Ryan,

    Great post! I’ve posted a follow-up and expansion of sorts on my blog. Here is the link.

  3. What your tips point to is that every app should have an administrative interface built with customer support in mind. Even if you didn’t think about this when building the app, odds are it would be a small project for a developer who already knows the app to implement an interface that allows you to do most or all of the things you’ve described. (Extracting information is almost always easy; sometimes the freebies and such are a little harder, but probably worth the investment — and often the same capabilities can be reused as sales promotions.)

  4. Alfred on March 1, 2007 at 1:20 am said:

    I took a screenshot and uploaded on flickr..here is the link.


  5. Patrick Harrison on February 28, 2007 at 9:51 am said:

    Everyone gets abusive customers at some stage, they are mainly just people who have no real way of communicating properly.

    What the other bloggers who told you off don’t realise is that no one in tech support/customer service should have to put up with abuse. Particularly if the error has been caused by the customer and is really nothing to do with your product.

    From a legal point of view an employer has an obligation not to unduly expose employees to repeated stress. Such as taking abusive calls. At least in the UK.

    A good trick we have found that works – if someone sends a ranting and abusive email, call them. This is assuming you have their number to hand. You will be amazed at how embarassed most will be, they never expected to be called. It also reminds them gently that emails are read by humans and that they may regret what they send.

    The bottom line is that no customer has the right to be abusive and support is for the problem – not supporting the customer through some emotional crisis.

    Anyway we have found that more than 90% of issues for us are down to customer’s computers not working – nearly all Windows machines. However, you find that people will look for the first number to call, even when they know it’s their machine. They are frustrated and want to shout at someone – anyone will do.

    Anyway we only have 14 years front-line tech support experience to draw upon so what do we know?


  6. Alfred – I can’t find that typo. Can you give me a URL?

  7. I’ve observed that most sites miss a critical component in their contact forms. I personally believe that they should include a slot where a user specify the topic or area of support. For example, If its invoice related matters, they can type “invoice”. This would simplify the support guy’s work i.e , they can solve all invoice related problems at ago, then move to next area. For the case of sites like dropsend that have support emails, request users to specify that the topic that affects them. Its a minor thing, but it would help alot.

    ** On a separate note Ryan, there is a typo error on the FOWA website, the recent london event was held on 20-21 Feb and not 20-21 January.

  8. …or use SQL and search the database for user accounts 🙂

  9. These are great tips, Ryan. It’s funny you should mention about the user account search, because I’m planning on changing to backend of my AssetsGraphed app to do exactly as you describe, even though it’s currently free and I only have a fraction of the users that DropSend has. It’s still a pain to page through the user accounts table. Another good one is to make the list sortable on various attributes such as the last sign in date etc. so you can get an instant overview of what’s going on with the app.

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