How not to deal with a concerned customer:
Suspend their account, block them on Twitter, ignore their e-mails completely.
A while back, I wrote an e-mail to Scoot Network’s customer service department
Followed by an e-mail to their press department:
I didn’t hear back from them, and went ahead and published an article entitled Scoot Networks, and why to avoid them.
You would never believe what happened next…
Well… No, seriously. You wouldn’t believe it.
I run a startup. I’ve run startups in the past. I know very well how painful it is to deal with difficult questions, and how tempting it can be to avoid them.
What I hadn’t expected, however, was this…
They suspended my Scoot account without any warning or explanation:
They unceremoniously blocked me on Twitter:
And as for my e-mails? It’s been 25 days, and I never did receive a response.
How could they have responded?
Well, for starters; Not responding to an e-mail to your support e-mail address is just poor form. Don’t do that.
Not responding to an e-mail to your press@ e-mail address that includes a heads-up that someone’s about to write an article about something that’s crucial to your business? That’s just dumb.
But there’s a deeper lesson here. Yes, it’s an annoying read, and yes, in retrospect, the blogger (i.e. yours truly) does come across as an entitled prick.
But by not responding at all about a query about something that’s core to your service — i.e. the safety of your riders, and whether or not someone suffers a personal bankruptcy if the worst should happen — is just a bad idea.
When bad shit goes down, a good idea to reach out. By being part of the conversation, you have a chance to let your side be heard. “No, we don’t care about our riders” would be a bad response, but a “Hey, good point, we’re looking into this” or a quick “We did the research, and you got the numbers wrong: What’s actually happening is…” would have had a very different response.
What can you learn?
- Ignore bloggers at your peril. It’s hard to know who has influence and who doesn’t.
- When someone e-mails you, respond. Even if the questions are difficult / annoying.
- Blocking your customers on Twitter isn’t a great idea.
- The only way to own the conversation is to participate in it. Letting a post like that one stand unanswered, uncommented, and unignored is bad for business.