I hope you don’t mind me calling you Dan. I know that’s your name because I asked your employees the name of MyGate’s managing director. I left several messages for you to call me, but perhaps your telephone lines are down, the way that your computers so often seem to be. By the way, I don’t mind if you call me Oscar, should you ever get around to returning my phone calls.
I’m not one to dish out gratuitous public criticism, but seeing as you didn’t make yourself available to hear it direct from me, this seemed to be my next best option.
The online shops I run are dependent on our customers being able to make online credit card payments. This cannot happen without a payment gateway, for which I selected your company.
Two things happen when MyGate goes ‘down’. Firstly, we don’t have any sales, which, I’m certain you understand, is quite a serious problem for any business. Secondly, our customers get frustrated and generally disillusioned with us. We therefore run the likelihood of losing those customers forever.
Trust is one of the most critical factors for online retailers. I’m sure you can imagine how damaging it must be to our reputation when our customers have dodgy payment experiences.
As ‘luck’ would have it, MyGate’s crashes have coincided with peak sales days, following on us launching special offers. I’m sure you know online retail well enough to know that call-to-action campaigns are most effective in the first couple of hours after they are launched. You can see how detrimental it would be to our business to miss out on the feverish excitement that our sales messages have incited in our customers.
Perhaps most alarming of all is that your people often don’t know there is a problem until I let them know (13 June is a case in point). What generally follows is a most unsatisfactory experience, which seldom involves any proactive feedback and always takes a long time to resolve, by which time the sales opportunities have passed.
And yet, when your charges are debited to our bank account, there is never an adjustment for the time that MyGate’s servers were down. At the very least, an apology would have been appreciated. I know it may seem outrageous to suggest that companies should apologise when they’ve let their customers down, but perhaps I’m just old-fashioned.
In closing, Dan, I think I could forgive some of your servers’ unreliability if the service was good. Sadly, both are poor. The type of function your company performs isn’t life-and-death, like flying passenger aircraft, for instance, or open-heart surgery, but it requires a similar degree of reliability.
I really just wanted you to know exactly why I’m no longer a customer. I would have been quite happy to tell you on the phone, or even face-to-face, but apart from the fact that you never gave me the opportunity, I don’t get the feeling you’re that interested in hearing back from customers. Certainly not ones that are really, really pissed off.
So what does one take away from the experience? The key – without deviating too far into pop-psychology – is frustration. When customers are not being ‘heard’ they get more frustrated (of course, it doesn’t help if the product doesn’t do what it’s supposed to).
I really hope they teach this stuff at Harvard Business School, because it’s important (much like sunscreen – and in both cases you don’t discover until later what damage has been done). You see, if you listen to your customers the first time, they don’t start looking around for someone else to tell.