How to be a shitty customer 101

Mass of people with hands up in the air

I’ve been interwebbing for a long time. I’ve had many roles over the years and some of them involved interaction with these quixotic things we call “customers” but I’ve only recently been involved in a role where those “customers” are not internal. My current role periodically exposes me to the unwashed masses of humanity that claw at my door moaning for relief from their busted gear. It didn’t take long to realize there are fairly easily identifiable categories of customers.

We all have disabilities. My particular disability is that I can’t see the colour grey. That means every customer looks like one of these to me:

  • The victim
  • The Passive-Aggressive
  • The psychopath
  • The guy who probably isn’t getting along to well
  • The normal human being

The victim

Crying stickman signifying a victimYou can easily identify the victim. The initial request for helps starts with blame. It begins with phrases like “Your service has broken my thing” or “I am loosing lots of money because of your service” or “YOU ASSHOLE I AM GOING TO SUE YOU”. You know, that type of thing.

I get that we’re selling a technical product and many people are not technical in nature. I can run the shit out of a Linux box, but I have almost no clue how my car works. I understand the frustration, but I’m also not a victim. When my car guy tells me the slarginator needs replacing I don’t fly off the handle and start screaming that he’s costing me $1000 a day because of his incompetence with slarginators. I am not restraining myself because I’m a great guy, I just honestly know that it’s not his fault. I don’t know how the victims of this world end up wandering through life feeling like things are being “done” to them but I can assure you that when you ask someone for help, yelling at them about your broken-ass slarginator ain’t the way to get that thing fixed.

The passive-aggressive

Aggressive looking kittenThese customers are marginally better than the victim because…um…they’re passive. Tickets from these folks contain such gems like “Based on the reputation of your company, I am really disappointed in this substandard level of service you’re providing” or “I would appreciate it if you would actually read my questions before responding with useless scripted responses” or “I AM SURE YOU ARE NOT AS DUMB AS YOU APPEAR!!” (Your passiveness may vary).

Intimating that someone can’t read, or is somehow letting their company down ain’t gonna get your slarginator fixed. Be nice.

The psychopath

Silhouette profile of man wielding knifeThis is the person who literally has no clue how things look like on our end. This is the guy who opens a ticket at 10:05, updates it at 10:07 with “HELLO????”, updates it again at 10:09 with “ANYONE WORKING TONIGHT???”, updates it again at 10:10 with “YOUR SERVICE SUCKS!! I AM SUING YOU FOR BREACH OF CONTRACT!!! I AM FLYING TO YOUR HOUSE TO MURDER YOUR CAT!!!!” and then proceeds to update it every minute afterwards with increasingly more specific and disturbing details about what is going to happen to your cat.

If you’ve never worked a support queue you won’t know how obvious the psychopath ticket is. Also, if you’re a psychopath, you don’t care. Most ticketing queues tell support people at least two important things right on the dashboard before even opening the ticket to read it:

  1. Has the ticket been read by anyone on the support team yet?
  2. How many responses does the ticket have?

When you see a ticket in the dashboard that is 10 minutes old, nobody on the support team has read it yet, and it has 10 responses, you know you’re dealing with the psychopath.

We see you, psychopath. We see you a long ways away. This ain’t the way to to get your slarginator fixed. Seek help. Psycho.

The guy who probably isn’t getting by too well

Donkey saying derpI did not forsee this category of customer. There seems to be a class of people who will be very forthright about not knowing anything about a given subject, but will still supply step-by-step instructions how to fix a problem.

It goes something like this:

“My website is down. I am not technical at all, usually other people do this for me. But you need to connect my site’s DNS to my computer right now because my mouse no longer works”.

This type of customer has the unique ability to turn into The Psychopath if you respond in any way other than “I’ve now connected your DNS to your computer, please test your mouse”.

After an encounter with this type of customer, I always wonder how other transactions go for them. How do routine things like gas station fillups and McDonald’s drive thru visits go for this person?

The normal human being

Woman with Groucho Marx glasses onI guess I should not be surprised by the number of support requests come from normal human beings, but I am. These are normal human beings who were brought up by other normal human beings and realize that – just like speaking – emails are also received and understood by humans. Sucuri CEO Tony Perez acknowledges the possibility that customers might enter the support system with a chip on their shoulder because of the endemic failure of support teams worldwide. That’s probably very true, but somehow these normal human beings are able to get past that and just be…well…normal humans. They endear themselves to us. We think they’re nice. And we fix the shit out of their slarginators.

The take away? You are asking us for help. Be a normal human being. You psychopath.

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