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16 Jul 2014

The Right Way to Deal With Your Indie Studio’s Customers

By now, you have probably listened to a telephone conversation between former Engadget editor Ryan Block and a Comcast representative. If you haven’t, check it out below and come back to us after you have given it a listen. It’s nearly 9-minutes long, but if you have a few moments to spare, I highly recommend that you listen to the entire conversation.

How would you describe the conversation?

  • Cringeworthy?
  • Painful?
  • Ridiculous?
  • All of the above?

Comcast has a big problem on their hands today thanks to this conversation going viral – and it’s not solely the representative’s fault. I’m not here to ridicule Comcast (I’ve personally never used their service), but judging by the comments we’ve all read online over the years, this type of customer service has been a problem for Comcast for far too long. This viral conversation is merely proof that Comcast’s customer service isn’t as helpful as it needs to be.

The best customer service is always a lesson in humility. In doing ‘the right thing’ without asking for anything in return. In fact:

 

Never be afraid to lose the battle

Can you imagine if every time you asked for refund on a product, a customer service rep behaved like the Comcast rep in the conversation above?

“You want to return these speakers because you found a better set at a cheaper somewhere? I’m just trying to figure out why you want to return these speakers when our store has dozens of the best brand-name speakers at competitive prices. Help me to figure out why you want to return these speakers and go somewhere else so we can serve you better!”

It’s one thing to ask customers if they would be willing to tell you why they want a refund. It’s a great way to learn how to serve your customers better – and what better way to do that than by getting some insight from a disappointed customer. But if they choose not to tell you? Don’t push the issue.

In short: don’t be afraid to lose the battle.

If you lose a customer, that sucks. I get it. Apparently, it sucked for the Comcast rep as well. But do the right thing: give the customer what they are entitled to receive. Whether it’s a refund, technical support, etc. If they are disappointed by one of your indie games and they want to tell you about it, be humble. Listen to them and don’t push back!

Don’t be afraid to lose the battle.

Which leads us to:

 

Don’t escalate complaints

Sometime last year, I had a client that made it mandatory for writers and editors to be in a group conversation via Skype at all times. Annoying, but I decided to give it a shot. These guys would talk at all hours of the night, and I would get the messages send to my smartphone all night long. Eventually, I ended up leaving the group conversation and ignoring their messages altogether, to which they locked me out of my author account.

The job wasn’t that great to begin with, and when that happened? I knew I was quitting. I wanted to hear their side of the story first, so asked them why they locked me out.

“We didn’t hear from you in Skype so we thought you had quit.”

Great. Well, I didn’t block them on Skype – I just left the conversation.

“You’re a good writer and everyone loves reading your work, so we’ll reinstate you.”

Now, I wasn’t getting paid that much for the job anyway, and it was clear they were demanding too much. I told the guy I was quitting, they were not paying enough for how demanding the job was becoming (they were also paying late and not willing to increase rates), and his tone changed immediately.

“You’re quitting! Oh well, nobody liked what you wrote anyway! Nobody was interested in it!”

Believe me guys: I gave this guy a tongue lashing (professionally, of course) and never looked back.

What’s the point of this little tale? If a customer (in this case, the writer) comes to you (in this instance, the client) to file a complaint and you’re not happy with it, don’t escalate it even further! A customer complaint is only that: a complaint. There’s a chance the customer could come conduct business with you again if treat them professionally. If you make the matter worse? They’re going to take it personally and never come back.

Would I have continued writing for the client above? If they were willing to work a few things out, it’s a possibility. But after that exchange? I’d rather dig ditches.

Your customer will feel the same if you escalate their situation and make it even worse.

 

Keep your ego at bay

Good customer service isn’t difficult. At face value, doing the right thing seems simple. Yet, when you let your ego get into the way, then that’s when customer service can become quite difficult. For example, if someone buys your indie game and contacts you wanting a refund simply because they think, ‘it sucks,’ you may take this personally (and rightfully so). Is that a good enough reason for a refund? Probably not – especially if your indie game had a lite/demo version available for free. But think about it in this way:

Would you rather tell the customer ‘no,’ risk angering them, and lose their business forever? Or would you rather lose a few bucks but make their customer service experience pleasant enough that they may consider buying one of your future indie games?

The choice is obvious, so keep your ego in check.

Good customer service is mandatory. End of story. It’s one of the things that will keep your players coming back to you and supporting you, so provide the best customer service possible at all times.

 

Do you have any questions or comments regarding good customer service? Let us know in the comments below!

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