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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Update: Yahoo! Account Fixed or "The Awful Face of Customer Service"

As noted before I was having trouble with my Y! id. My alias account (that I give out most frequently) no longer worked.

As I mentioned my experience with emailing Yahoo! was really bad. Canned messages saying the same thing no matter what I wrote -- the only difference was the signature at the end.

Phone calls weren't any more helpful. After searching and finding the phone number, I called to explain the situation. It seemed we had reached the point where she finally got my dilemma. However just at that point of epiphany the phone went dead. Somehow we were disconnected. So I called again. Finally reached that point again and she promised me a response in 3-5 business days. Yea, right. That was 2 weeks ago and nada :-(

Fortunately I used to work at Yahoo! I still know lots of people internally so in parallel I sent them a note about my problem (as well as many emailed me when they saw my blog post). Once I got in contact with one of the leads on Y! Mail they got the ball rolling internally. Somehow my alias account got corrupted. It was now a "child" account (you can create parent/child accounts for minors) and could not be accessed. It took a little over a week but finally it got fixed. Very thankful to the hard work of some of the folks in the Mail/UDB/Member teams that resolved the issue.

This got me thinking though. What if I had not worked at Yahoo! before? Well this account I guess would just be dead and I would have lost that email address. I really don't see any other outcome.

It also got me thinking about the various faces of any company. If my only experience had been email then I would have felt that Yahoo! was uncaring and faceless. If my only experience had been the phone I would have heard a sympathetic voice but no follow through. But I happen to know that once the problem came to the attention of people inside Yahoo! they jumped on it and worked extra hours & the weekend to resolve the problem.

This is always the problem with anytime we have a problem with a company. It does not matter if the engineers inside the company are caring, dedicated people. The customer service organization is the face to our users. Unlike in most cases, I also had the unique perspective to know that the number of user accounts created on a daily basis is staggering. And the level of calls/contacts to customer support is huge.

I guess if I did not have the inside view I might have fallen prey to conspiracy theories -- seems that when people have a problem with a company it becomes personal or the screw up is really a way for the company to squash the little guy.

But it was not. Nor is it hardly ever that way. It was just an odd, rare bug that just happened to clobber my account that was not easy to detect and not simple to fix right away. And if the right people get it brought to their attention they work hard to resolve it.


webfeathers said...

Funny thing about how hard large corporations work to get a handle on customer service. Thousands of dollars are spent on automated voice direction systems which properly route customer service requests to the appropriate department... in theory at least. We just moved, and so I had to change the service address for our Satellite provider, telephone, garbage, electric, gas, etc. While some systems worked just fine (for very simple requests) others were in fact quite dismal.

One week later, we have: garbage (but not recycling), an extra Satellite tuner (which we did not order, but will be charged for - even shipping fees if we send it back), our gas is fine, electricity is fine, phone is messed up (old line not forwarding to new one as requested - and turned off three days early).

So - my point is this: I totally agree with you, Bill. But the problem is so far-reaching I wonder: Will we ever get to a point where Customer Service is 100% effective? Or at least competent?

Fl├╝ge Denpasar said...

I have also have a bad experience with my experience with emailing Yahoo. My e-mail adress was deleted ans i couldn't activate it.
I have done all my best to activate it and tried, tried.. but no result(i don't know why)
Sadly all my messages and most of all my contacts was deleted.
So an advice : avoid using Yahoo

Dave Briccetti said...

Hi Bill. I'm going through something similar with Google Analytics. Through some bug in the web app, I have two accounts, one of which shows up as "null" and throws an error—not quite a stack track but close—when I try to delete it. I've had three responses from analytics support, and in each response they have assumed that I have made an error and they clearly haven't even tried to view my accounts. Their algorithm for answering must be: "The user has made an error. Find the most likely user error remaining and send the canned text for that situation."

Dave Briccetti said...

Google did resolve the problem finally, and then in a separate email, asked for my feedback on their performance. I politely gave it to them.

Anonymous said...

I'm finding it hellishly impossible to send any kind of comment to most organizations like Y'. I'm getting real fed up with all press & media who feed their highly biased garbage to the internet and everywhere else, but try and contact them??!! No way!

Greg said...

Yahoo customer service is the most pathetic, useless, and impersonal system I have ever dealt with. Was a customer for five years. There was a problem with my yahoo geocities site and they simply deleted it with all of my e-mail accounts! This was a kids site! I could not get in touch with anyone, was promised call backs, replies to e-mails -- but nothing, only frustration. Never even got a reason for the deletion. Even my "yahoo advocate" said he couldn't tell me anything. AVOID YAHOO - they could care less about you.