Customer service is an especially hot topic for me, as I’ve worked in improving how service is measured and improved at a few companies, where previously it was maybe in third or fourth place when it came to that company’s priorities.
Your employees are your best customers, and your customers are your best employees. They’ll defend you; market for you; endorse you; and be your voice where you might not currently have a presence.
If you look after them. Something blogging platform Posterous could improve on.
A Week is a Long Time in Business
Almost two weeks ago, I decided to stop posting short-form blog posts over at Posterous, and move all my blogging back to my blog right here. While I had enjoyed experimenting with Posterous, this is my homebase. And I wasn’t keen on a third-party “owning” my content.
So, I wrote a post about why I was leaving Posterous and made the decision that I’d delete my account there within a few days, to allow anyone to come and subscribe here if they wished.
And that’s where the fun begins.
I tried deleting my account, and kept getting an error message. No worries, the message mentioned Posterous had been emailed about it, and it’d be resolved soon. Except it wasn’t.
For a week, I tried to delete my account – I even made it my secondary one since I was informed that primary accounts at Posterous need you to contact support to delete the account for you.
Still no joy. Frustrated, I reached out to Posterous via their Twitter account. No reply there, so over to contacting their helpdesk.
In all fairness, their representative Vince got back to me seven hours later. Yet it wasn’t to delete the site right away – that would only happen if I confirmed that this was what I wanted to do (click to enlarge).
So, I mention that yes, I do want to delete my account and I pointed Vince to my post on their platform as to the reasons why.
This was on Thursday, August 12, and as of writing, my Posterous account is still live.
Customers Hate Obstacles
So now I’m pretty frustrated with Posterous. I no longer want to use their service, but I’m still “using it” if you visit my account there. And the company isn’t making it easy for me to stop using their service.
It’s like me signing you up to my newsletter, and then making you jump through a bunch of hoops to unsubscribe, in the hope you might give up and stay with me for convenience’s sake.
And it’s a shame. I’ve written before how Posterous offers an easy way in for folks to experiment with blogging, and I’ve pointed clients their way in the past that wanted to see if blogging is for them. But not now – my experience with Posterous has been soured by something that should be pretty straightforward.
As customers, we can be a complaining bunch, but at times the complaining could be easily avoided just by taking away the obstacles companies put us through. Some get that spot on.
The Gravity Forms Experience
I started using Gravity Forms recently for my contact forms. I’d heard good things about them and I wanted to check them out, so I bought the single user license. I loved how they worked, so I wanted to upgrade to the multi-site license instead.
I used their contact form to ask how easy this was, and what the steps would be. Within 10 minutes, Carl Hancock had an emailed answer and easy-to-follow steps on how to upgrade. Within 30 minutes, I had a coupon code to use that would deduct my original purchase from the multi-site one.
But what really stood out for me is that this all happened late at night. I contacted Gravity Forms at 11.28pm, and by 11.58pm I had my coupon code and purchase instructions.
That level of service turns me from a simple customer to a brand advocate. If anyone asks me about forms for blogging, I point them in the direction of Gravity Forms. Every time.
It may be that Posterous has a larger userbase than Gravity Forms. It may be that their platform needs more technical nous than Gravity Forms. It may be that there’s a certain timescale before something can get done.
But to customers, that doesn’t always matter. All we want is a simple product, and one that we can stop using at any time if we choose to do so. Making us go through hoops just ensures we won’t return to your product in future, and will probably use your competitors instead.
You could say that Posterous is a free product, and so the support doesn’t need to be as good as that of a premium product. But let’s say at some stage they’re looking to make it a paid service – how they look after you now defines how you’ll perceive paying for their service.
Marketing might sell a product, but service is the gold that repeat sales come from.
Compare the Posterous and the Gravity Forms approach – which one would you be a loyal customer of?
Update – my account has been deleted after Rich Pearson of Posterous kindly stepped in and explained the delay.