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How to keep the customer happy

August 15, 2005

I’ve been using Mailblocks for about 16 months now and I swear by it. According to their tracking counter I’ve blocked over 80,000 spam messages in that time. I very rarely get a spam message now on the email accounts I filter through their service.

Alicea wanted to sign up over the weekend, but we were dismayed to see that they’re not accepting new accounts at this time. Warning bells went off in my head – are they shutting down? I fired off an email to their support line (I still wish they had a phone number) and got the boiler-plate response of “yeah we got your email, we’ll get to you when we can”. Except on closer inspection it’s a LOT better than your average receipt confirmation.

To give our customers the highest quality of service possible, we strive to respond to all emails within 24 hours of receipt. You will receive a personal response from our Support Team shortly. Our current average Email response time for the past 7 days is approximately 12 hours.

Notice that last line … “Our current average Email response time for the past 7 days is approximately 12 hours.” Now this may be horse hocky, or it may be a real statistic. I got a response at 11:03a PDT Monday from a submission at 10:43p PDT Saturday night – but that was over a Sunday and it wasn’t a service-down issue. But here’s what I’m getting at – they set a customer expectation that they’re involved, are actively monitoring their support emails, and set a realistic expectation for the user.

It’s way better than just saying “We’ve received your email and will respond in the order received.” Same way I’d rather hear “you’ve reached the Product X support queue; there are 3 callers ahead of you” or “the average hold time is 15 minutes” than nothing at all.

Now, would I rather have a phone number and receive an immediate answer to my question without going trough voicemail menus or waiting in a queue? Sure. But that level of staffing (both in numbers and technical expertise) isn’t realistic for most organizations or products. If you can set an expectation with the customer it sends a very different, and positive, message than simly acknowledging they exist. Better to know it’ll be about 12 hours than wonder after 5 why I haven’t heard anything back.

What else did I learn that makes me high on Mailblocks?

At this time, we are working on creating the next generation web mail product. As soon as new information is released, we will be updating the main http://www.mailblocks.com web page. We apologize, but we do not have an exact time or date on this.

Can’t wait for the next generation! And I’m sure Alicea can’t wait to use their service for the first time. Now if they’d only publish a timeline … but that’s ever so dangerous for software release dates, isn’t it Microsoft? 🙂

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Anonymous
    November 3, 2005 at 6:04 pm

    OK, Mailblocks was purchase by AOL and now will become part of AIM Mail. They planned sutting down operations 11/16/2005. Sigh. Except that they have been off the air since 10/31 and I never shut off my automatic pick up from Hotmail. They are still picking up my Hotmail and since I can’t get to Mailblocks ALL my mail is gone. I was a happy customer. Now I’m pretty pissed off. HDS

  2. Nathan Novak
    November 4, 2005 at 9:51 am

    Yeah, I am completely pissed off at Mailblocks & AOL. They’re referring people to AIM Mail, which doesn’t even have challenge/response – the whole point of mailBLOCKS. As for your Hotmail issue, try changing your password, that way MailBlocks can’t get in anymore. My MailBlocks account still works (not that I’m using it) – sorry yours seems down. Tried IMAP?

    Also, I’m now using Qurb (www.qurb.com) to do challenge/response for emails. It’s AWESOME.

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