29 Jan 2014, 18:51

Hacking Crappy Customer Support

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Hacking Crappy Customer Support

The Situation

We had an issue at work the other week. Basically, we were running into some pretty serious problems with one of the SAAS services that we use (I will leave which one to the reader’s imagination). This is a mission critical service for a couple of our offerings, and it’s not particularly cheap, at $200/month for the pro service (which is what we have). This is a service that is structured in such a way that for anybody that uses it, it’s likely to be a mission critical service. This is all well and good, except that they don’t seem to bother answering support emails. We’ve had emails to them go totally unanswered before. However, until last week, we hadn’t run into an issue important enough that we really, really needed a response.

We found ourselves in a situation where we had taken a dependency on a third-party service, ran into an issue, and were getting no help from the provider. We had guessed at a work-around that turned out to be the right answer for an immediate fix, but we still needed a proper fix for this, else we would need to make larger changes to our apps to better work-around the problem. The vendor was not answering the urgent emails, and provided no phone number for the company at all.

The Hack

I had an idea. The provider has an Enterprise tier, we could contact the sales team, and say that we’re looking to possibly upgrade to Enterprise, but that we had some questions that needed to get answered first. We structured our questions in a way that first asked what we needed to know, and then asked if the Enterprise tier might solve the issue, or if they were working on a fix. This tactic worked. A couple of us separately sent emails to the Enterprise sales team (they, too, do not have a phone number listed) and received responses fairly quickly. We got our questions answered after a couple rounds of emails.

Concessions

It’s true, they didn’t promise any support, even at the pro level; we had mistakenly assumed that we’d at least be able to get questions answered via email. We should have probably done a bit more research before choosing a provider. The provider may not have been set up to handle that much in terms of support. However, they are not a small company, and could at least offer paid support as needed.

Conclusions

As far as whether or not we stick with them, we’ll see. I’m not too thrilled about paying a company $200/mo and getting the finger from them whenever something of theirs is broken. But, there are other constraints, and you can’t always get everything you want. Sometimes there simply isn’t the time to go back and fix everything that you’d like to.

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