Dear major software brand, it’s time that you and I had a long (and long overdue) talk about our relationship. It seems that you and I have gone from the honeymoon phase to the old-ball-and-chain routine in a matter of seconds. Right after you processed my credit card, specifically. Frankly, I’m beyond the wondering whether this is the right relationship for me. I’ve proceeded to the next stage — the one where I join the amen chorus of “they’re all the same” with my friends.
Here’s what I am seeing. There were a lot of promises. About how you were a “real listener.” About how you would provide “real support.” About how you were “different from the rest” in everything from “performance” to “reliability.” And, hey, there was even a lot of hype about how “open” you could be if need be because, hey, this is the “age of social.”
None of that has materialized. Instead, I can’t reach you on the phone, my emails have disappeared down the rabbit hole, and, last I checked your Facebook page, I’m not the only one wondering why you can’t be reached. (And what’s that about?)
I’ve chatted about this with my friends and, ouch, there’s been some hard talk about what I should have been looking for before I clicked “submit” on the payment button. So to you, the next major software brand who wants me, here’s the evidence that I need to see that this relationship has a shot in the dark of working out.
Be there for me.
I’m a mature(r) buyer these days. I no longer fall for the contact and support pages that only show web forms. I am the type to want to reach you on the phone, so I expect to see your phone number. And when I do call, I want to hear your voice on the other end of the line. Recognizing that not everyone wants to place a call, fine, give some other options. Support ticketing, web forms, site search, and the rest of the smorgasbord is welcome. But one and not the other? And no follow up? Well, those days are over.
Treat me like a person not a user ID.
I’m glad you’re on social media. It’s wonderful that we can feel like we’re all in this new world together. But it can’t be a one-way street. I recently read about a guy who’s email address was mistakenly placed on the support page of a major gaming company. When he started getting support requests, he first tried to correct the matter, including sending tweets to the company’s social media account. That was ignored, so he started answering those support requests himself. If you’re going to jump into the social media “conversation” please behave like you’re actually in one and not just speaking aloud to yourself.
Help me learn.
I get that you can’t be everything to everyone at once. But I need you to be a forward thinker on this, so that you have a plan for when I am freaking out about something that doesn’t work and you can’t be reached. Think downloadable documents. Think FAQs. Think screenshots and knowledge bases and tutorials and more. If, just off the top of my head, I can imagine all of these alternatives for helping me help myself, surely you can too?
Speak my language.
Yes, I can speak English. But you and I both know that you have a buyer in every port. So I am not so selfish as to think this mess is only my issue. There’s plenty of guidelines out there for how you can at least make your online material multilingual. And there’s plenty of data out there about why it matters. There’s also companies out there, the ones that may be the right ones for the kind of relationship I want, who are already doing this right. So do yourself a favor and learn from their example.