Posts Tagged ‘customer support’

Barriers to Entry

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

Today, I was trying to get information from a hosting service about certain details of their plan that wasn’t covered on the website. After some looking around, I finally found an email address to “support@whateverhostingservice.com” - Aha! Just what I wanted!

So I send off an email listing my questions. I figure I’ll get an email back in awhile that should answer my questions, and then I can see if they can do what I need.

Sorry - wrong - it doesn’t work that way.

A few minutes later, I did, indeed, get an email back. It seems that if I want to submit an email to “support”, that I need to include my domain - apparently this service is only available to current subscribers.

Well, then, back to the site. It seems that there is no email address for sending such queries, but there is a form. Ok - so I’ll fill out the form - easy enough.

But now they want my First Name, Last Name, Title, Company, Phone Number, State and Country, When To Contact Me, Am I An Existing Customer, How I Heard About Them, My High School GPA, Where I Was at 3:35pm on December 18, 2003, and My Recipe for Chicken Marsala. Best of all - all these fields were required!

(OK - they didn’t ask for my Chicken Marsala Recipe)

So I filled it out with “none” for title and company and “do-not-call” for the phone number, and proceeded to holler at them for putting me through so many hoops just to ask them a question.

Needless to say, I didn’t hear back. Not that I care - I’ve already taken my business elsewhere. I’m just left at a loss trying to figure out why they make it so hard. And really, why do they need all that information anyways? You got my name, my email address, and my question - what more do you really need? (Unless you’re planning on selling my personal info or making harassing phone calls until I finally cave in and sign up for your overpriced, undersupported service against my better judgment.)

I simply don’t understand why some businesses operate this way. In the internet age, more so than ever, it is vital for anyone in business realize that anything making it harder or more annoying for someone to use your service is costing you money. (I’m not the only one saying this - take a look at Jakob Nielsen’s article Usability as Barrier to Entry)

When you do stuff like this, you tell me that my business isn’t really worth much to you. And in the end, I suppose you’re right.