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  1. #1
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    * When 1 customer submits 95% of tickets

    I have a customer who is, for lack of a better phrase, a support glutton. They have been using my product since July 06, and when I went back through their account history I see they have submitted approximately 120 tickets - with 30 of them in the past 2 weeks. To put it mildly, they are driving me insane.

    Don't get me wrong, I don't mind helping customers at all and fully accept that it comes with the territory. However, a lot of this user's questions are very basic things ("How do I change the way the border around this text box looks?"). They submit 5 tickets with 1 question per ticket within the space of 10 minutes. I've asked them politely to try and consolidate their questions into one ticket as it makes response times faster, and they ignore it.

    I can't relax with my family because I'm terrified I'm going to come back to 10 new tickets and/or replies after a couple of hours.

    Not one of my other customers, especially ones who have been with me for more than a month, is this bad. I expect new users are going to have more questions and have absolutely no problem helping them get acquainted. Once they are, their tickets generally drop to 1 or 2 every couple of weeks.

    I'm to the point where I want to "fire" this customer just so I can breathe easier. I've started making my replies short - "This issue is now fixed. Thanks." but other than that I'm not sure what to do.

    Does anyone have any other suggestions that may make them back off a little?

  2. #2
    what job u are doing?

    if hosting, I have NEVER seen a question like, "How do I change the way the border around this text box looks?" coz its not the provider's but the designer job

  3. #3
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    what job u are doing?
    It's software that I sell.

  4. #4
    Then, why dont you make a very large FAQ or K/B about your product?
    It will help both you and customers.

  5. #5
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    It comes down to the service you provide/sold to the customer. If you've sold a Unlimited support ticket with 1hr response SLA well, some customers are going to use it

    I would suggest defining the scope of your support and setting up a KB which you can populate with questions from this challenging customer and have your support desk auto-responder link to this page.

    At the end of the day only you can decide if it is worth holding this customer. Good luck.
    Damian | i n f i n i x | Are you a hosting refugee?

  6. #6
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    Do you have FAQ on your site? Kindly ask your client to read the FAQ if he/she submits just basic questions.

    Also, I don't think you should be responsible for the design of your customer, so you shouldn't answer these kind of questions. Just tell him/her once that you can only assist him/her only regarding technical issues. Sometimes I fix the sites of my clients, but only if it's something I can do quickly and if the client doesn't abuse.
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  7. #7
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    If you've sold a Unlimited support ticket with 1hr response SLA well, some customers are going to use it
    Oh heavens, no - I'm not that much of a glutton for punishment

    These are all good suggestions. Think I'll go back through this customer's tickets to see if I can get a better idea of where their questions are falling.

    I would suggest defining the scope of your support
    Can you clarify a bit?

    Then, why dont you make a very large FAQ or K/B about your product?
    It will help both you and customers.
    I do have a K/B with the most common questions and add to it regularly.

  8. #8
    Yes, FAQs or knowledge base articles sounds good for the solution. But if you have a client who is immune of sending emails then I am afraid that won't help. No matter what you would do, he will come up with some question/issue which is not been addressed before...

    So, most of the time the FAQs or articles would help you but not all the time. My suggestion is also to dig up your past emails and create FAQs and articles from them.

  9. #9
    If the manual has the answers to what they are asking. Just reply to the link to the manual or kB and tell them the answer is in the manual.

  10. #10
    By the way, if I have customer like him... I may start paying him for not generating tickets

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by P-nut
    Cann you clarify a bit?
    Sure thing, since it seems to be software that your are supporting, limiting your free ticketed support to installation and bugfixes outside of a x-day "new customer" period would be they way to go. A good manual, KB and perhaps a forum if you have the user community to support it should help in most cases.

    However, I agree with the general trend that this customer wants a lot of hand-holding, perhaps offer him/her an option where you will install/configure the software to their (documented) specifications for a set fee.
    Damian | i n f i n i x | Are you a hosting refugee?

  12. #12
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    Also, if your ticketing system supports it you may want to filter their email into a queue of their own so that you can manage it better.
    Damian | i n f i n i x | Are you a hosting refugee?

  13. #13
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    Make a peer to peer support forum. I cannot tell you how much time that has saved me.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeWalczak
    Make a peer to peer support forum. I cannot tell you how much time that has saved me.
    Agreed. I would then make it known the helpdesk is for private/sensitive issues or issues that can not be solved in the forum.
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  15. #15
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    We recently had a £25 a month client submit 44 tickets in 3 weeks. Every ticket was trivial, and often blaming his actions on ourselves. He didn't really have a clue, and that was everyone's fault but his.

    I feel your pain.

    Yesterday we fired him.

    Work out how much you an your staff are worth per hour.

    Look at how much time he / she uses.

    If it doesn't balance, you need to get rid.

    At the end of the day this is business, my main concern him expect hour max response times, and it was effecting other customers.
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by [inx]Olly
    Yesterday we fired him.
    You fired a client?

  17. #17
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    Well I always employ 3 levels on over using customers depending on how much you overuse.

    The first would be every time you hear from them to answer and remind them that multiple tickets, overuse of system etc etc etc could result in higher response times, and then even if your doing nothing ignore the ticket for a while, so that he gets the message and starts condensing his messages into just 1 ticket.

    The second if he is REALLY spamming your inbox would be to just reply with answers straight from the FAQ etc, especially in your case from what i've gathered, you are not providing an active service more selling a product and providing after-sale support (please tell me if i got that dreadfully wrong).

    The third would be to just tell him blunt that he is totally spamming you and that if he doesnt control the amount of tickets he sends you will enforce a limit on him...OK so this is not nice and yes he will probably stop paying you...but when it gets this bad i think the peace and quiet of an empty inbox is worth the refund :-P

  18. #18
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    Well I always employ 3 levels on over using customers depending on how much you overuse.

    The first would be every time you hear from them to answer and remind them that multiple tickets, overuse of system etc etc etc could result in higher response times, and then even if your doing nothing ignore the ticket for a while, so that he gets the message and starts condensing his messages into just 1 ticket.

    The second if he is REALLY spamming your inbox would be to just reply with answers straight from the FAQ etc, especially in your case from what i've gathered, you are not providing an active service more selling a product and providing after-sale support (please tell me if i got that dreadfully wrong).

    The third would be to just tell him blunt that he is totally spamming you and that if he doesnt control the amount of tickets he sends you will enforce a limit on him...OK so this is not nice and yes he will probably stop paying you...but when it gets this bad i think the peace and quiet of an empty inbox is worth the refund :-P
    Oh I totally understand where your coming from and I would have done the same . I just was commenting on the terminology, I have never heard anyone say they had "fired" a client. lol .

  19. #19
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    I do have a forum of which this person is a member; it's not as active as WHT but it still receives visits and new posts on a daily basis, so they should be able to create the non-sensitive type posts there and receive an answer within a day or so.

    Quote Originally Posted by SourceServers
    from what i've gathered, you are not providing an active service more selling a product and providing after-sale support (please tell me if i got that dreadfully wrong).
    Nope, that's it in a nutshell.

  20. #20
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    well then when he has paid for his product and got it then i suggests he looks for a tutorial.

    I think its worth looking into just providing technical and billing support only, as in "Oh....this doesnt work on FreeBSD?" type questions as opposed to "How do i save a file".

    If you have ample FAQ and tutorial sections for your product and make sure people are fully aware that any non-technical/billing enquiry made via ticket or e-mail will be ignored then thats what future customers will expect, and i dont think that will stop them from buying the product, i mean when im looking to buy a new PC i dont cancel my order with dell cos they just told me i wont get help installing every program i buy for it....

    EDIT: Also in response to the forum thing you can just either ban him, or fight your case on the forums as you have a very very good one....take all his points and counter them, spam the boards with testomonials from other clients, and if you have a forum for your product and he made dumb posts on that quote them also...obviously don't quote tickets as that would get you in a lot of trouble

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeWalczak
    You fired a client?
    Sometimes its neccessary.
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  22. #22
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    My point was it was funny seeing the word "fired." Usually when you hear fired its referring to an employee.

  23. #23
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    mike you know you quoted my post at the top of page 2 and thus your reply makes no sense

  24. #24
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    we have tried this tack before...

    no matter how much you have point out or show a customer or give them manual. they will not use it.. they WANT you to do it for them.. so.. upfront, we tell one of our customers that all these questions are repeat questions... we already replied and given you all the materials.. if you like us to fix it for you, fine, we can but there will be a charge.

    We use netviewer, so if its a PC customer, we can go onto their PC and see what they are trying to do and fix it for them that way and give them a bill.

    if they are willing to pay, then may be this is another route. some people are just "terrified" of technology...
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  25. #25
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    Ever thought of opening a forum for people like this? If it was me i'd put it in your "Coding Help / Tips" forum... just tell him that "flooding" the support centre etc is a no no and use the forums plus it will get the forum more active
    Your reading skill has increased by one point!
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  26. #26
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    Do you have a setting on your helpdesk to limit the amount of tickets someone can make? You could set it to 1 per 10 mins, then they would have to put all their questions in the one ticket.
    Sean

  27. #27
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    What I would do is get this client on the phone. You'd be amazed at how well this works 95% of the time (with clients that aren't total newbies to the www). Basically, you just inform the client about the product, they have questions, you answer them on the spot, then you'll rarely hear from them. Quash all their questions in 1 sitting, then you can relax with your family

    -Steven

  28. #28
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    Russ Foster - Industry Curmudgeon

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by P-nut
    I have a customer who is, for lack of a better phrase, a support glutton
    Every company in every industry gets them, good luck with it

    a lot of this user's questions are very basic things ("How do I change the way the border around this text box looks?").
    Start responding with "see knowledgebase article xyz" or "please re-read the manual" (assuming these things are in there) - you have to start making them thin kfor themsleves, otherwise their brain will deterioate further and you'll be answering "how do i wipe my @rse" questions for ever.

    They submit 5 tickets with 1 question per ticket within the space of 10 minutes
    Personally I prefer I issue per ticket, as it makes tracking easier, and allows for better inclusion into the FAQs

    I can't relax with my family because I'm terrified I'm going to come back to 10 new tickets and/or replies after a couple of hours.
    This is what good documentation and support staff are for

    Try adding "tickets will be responded to in priority order at our discretion, we will close tickets without response where the answer is clearly available in our online helpdesk"

    Implement a forum and let other customers help as well.

    Limit the scope of the support to installation/configuration and bug reports.

    Sell support contracts by the ticket - give evry new client 40 tickets and let them buy more.

    Write an entry level e-book on the product which you can sell for $5 with step by step examples for the newbies.

    I'm to the point where I want to "fire" this customer just so I can breathe easier.
    We prefer the phrase "terminate a customer" it eases the stress

    HTH
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  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeWalczak
    My point was it was funny seeing the word "fired." Usually when you hear fired its referring to an employee.
    LOL, not anymore. You need to get out more, bud firing customers has become a commonplace business concept.

    I first heard of the concept from Andrew Neitlich in his Relationship Strategy article. Ever since, from what I have seen in business circles, the concept has been taking greater hold and growing steadily.

    Firing a truly problem customer is one of the best things you can do for your business.

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  31. #31
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    Start offering support tickets as an item that you sell. You charge $x.xx/mo for "basic" service with a minimal quantity of support. Then people can "add-on" extra support when they run out.

    It may be easier to fire the guy, or just factor it into your cost structure.

  32. #32
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    There are cases where even achat session will be better than mails.

    If they find it easier to see the answers on a faq, forum or somewhere else they will be easier.

    Make you software with less options that he can have doubts about.

    check useit.com

  33. #33
    If a client is making it impossible for you to spend time with your family then it may be time to decide just how much you need the client. Are they a big client? If you can do without them then cut'em loose. However, you may want to try communicating with them first. Sometimes customers don't realize how problematic they're being until you tell them (but nicely) and they usually stop being such a headache. Over the phone is probably the best way to do this.
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  34. #34
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    Hey ,

    I really know what you are talking about and i wish you the best i have a $9.99 customer like this !! i have hierd some tech support staff and last month they gave me a bill of 56$ just for him !!! he pays 9.99 monthly i mean come on !!! i have to pay 46$ here ?!?! but again we have : 'unlimited support tickets' so you know cant do anything i may pay him to find other vps !!!!! it may be cheaper lol

    Navid N
    Giving up does not always means you are weak, it Simply means you are strong to let go!

  35. #35
    Quote Originally Posted by Navid1
    Hey ,

    I really know what you are talking about and i wish you the best i have a $9.99 customer like this !! i have hierd some tech support staff and last month they gave me a bill of 56$ just for him !!! he pays 9.99 monthly i mean come on !!! i have to pay 46$ here ?!?! but again we have : 'unlimited support tickets' so you know cant do anything i may pay him to find other vps !!!!! it may be cheaper lol

    Navid N
    Why not fire that customer? I'd do it in a heartbeat if he was costing me money every month.

  36. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by 1oneHost
    By the way, if I have customer like him... I may start paying him for not generating tickets
    LOL. Thats a classic!

    I registered few domains for one of my client through my reseller account with ******* *** and now when he tried to renew those domains it didnt work. He got mad and sent 110 e-mails and noticed 30 missed calls @ the office number. ( It was X-mas time and the office was closed )

    I had to request him NOT to post those many tickets and he threatened me - "you are trying to steal my domains and I will sue you"...I was shocked - but yeah the registrar was having problems and had to wait for 24 hours.

    I am planning to ADD it to the TOS that if anyone does thing like this then the account will be suspended. Honestly I hate to do that but we have to take such steps so they do not mis-use it. What are your views?
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  37. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by CSDesk
    .......

    I had to request him NOT to post those many tickets and he threatened me - "you are trying to steal my domains and I will sue you"...I was shocked - but yeah the registrar was having problems and had to wait for 24 hours.

    I am planning to ADD it to the TOS that if anyone does thing like this then the account will be suspended. Honestly I hate to do that but we have to take such steps so they do not mis-use it. What are your views?
    I had a customer just like this. The costs of support, plus the time of dealing with him just wasn't worth it. He was taking support away from other customers. I eventually got him on a technicality violation of AUP and terminated his account. Fortunately, this has had no ill effect on repuation.

  38. #38
    well the person that suggested the KB or manual link had a good suggestion
    I would also limit support unpaid support should be KB / manual
    you are selling software not managing servers which would require more unpaid support to solve account issues

    another thing to do is use all the requests for info in your KB
    if the answer is not already there

    I do that a lot and it helps build the KBbut yea in your situation you should update your terms
    to say paid support and then still let users contact you

    use their questions to build the support kb
    and if they ask general questions that are in the kb have Notepad open search for text and a link and paste it in a responce

    if they are hammering you as if they were your competitors help staff messing with you
    then charge them

    after the first bill they will hit the kb first or google

    and if they need help on a real issue or report a bug
    you can always forgive the charges

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