Two weeks ago, my wife @luckyandi encountered a bug on her Instagram account that prevented her from signing into the mobile app. As someone who has run technical support teams for the past decade, we quickly discovered that she was not blocked — she was able to access via web — and it was not a device specific issue as she was not able to login in on other iPhones or Android devices.
Attempting to contact support at Instagram is a challenge — just Google it! The first search result says “it’s highly unlikely that you won’t receive a response” and the help center directs you into a help loop. The help loop in this case was a received a password reset email and still can’t login? Try again.
Finally, we found a contact point through the app and got an email back! First step, verify your identify by sending a photo back to their support team with a handwritten code, full name and username. Not an easy experience for your customers, but appreciate the level of security to prevent account takeovers. Then, came a password reset email that was unsuccessful.
A day or two later, we got this email.
YOU CAN’T SUPPORT THIS TYPE OF REQUEST AND YOU AREN’T TAKING FUTURE ACTION??!?!
We are lucky enough to be connected with some friends that work at Facebook and four of them opened internal “tickets” on my wife’s behalf. Four more times, we received the same identify confirmation email and the same “unfortunately we can’t support this type of request”.
Looking at Twitter, we weren’t the only customers impacted by this issue and it perpetuated for two weeks until suddenly my wife was able to login. I guess Instagram finally fixed the bug?
Impact on Happiness from @luckyandi
I‘m someone who loves documenting day-to-day life on social media (primarily Instagram) and connecting with others online. Instagram is a platform that I use to connect with people on a personal level, but also for my business (social media consulting) — so not having access to the app for two weeks was super frustrating. I had a personal project launch while I was locked out of Instagram, and it was upsetting and incredibly inconvenient to not be able to Instagram during this time. The frustration just continued as I kept getting the same response from Instagram’s customer support, and it felt like no one was taking the time to *actually* read my emails and messages and therefore, no one was *actually* solving the problem for me.
What Happened (and What Should Have)?
Access to help when you need it — many companies (Instagram included) chose to introduce hoops into their customer support in an attempt to prevent what those companies view as “stupid customers” from wasting their support teams time with questions they can answer themselves. Some friction here can be good — companies want users to understand and learn to help themselves which lowers costs that they can then invest in making their products better, but too much friction — like help loops — especially for customer that know they are experiencing an issue can cause pain that leads to customers churn.
Support processes & form emails — did you even read my email??? One of the top areas of customer frustration comes when you encounter a support process that doesn’t lead to your problem getting solved. This is the metaphor of a square peg in a round hole, but behind the scenes the reality is more that support agent is trying to find the closest peg (square, round, diamond whatever) to fit your unique issue. Companies invest a lot of time in getting to the right response and resolution for the majority (80%) of customer issues, but the teams and customers struggle when your issue doesn’t clearly fit these clearly outlined resolutions.
In this case, my wife didn’t have one of those issues that fall in the top 80% but the agents kept sending those emails and resolutions as it was the closest resolution that was documented for the team. Going off script to solve a customer’s complaint can be caused by three aspects of a company’s culture: (1) lack of empowerment — agents are reprimand when they don’t use the documented processes; (2) lack of training — there is a resolution, but agents have yet to be trained on how to solve or (3) lack of communication — a bug or other change occurred and the product and engineering teams have not communicated what happened to the support team.
Have you had an experience like this with a social network? What happened and what would you have wished the company would have done?