Silly Customer Service

If you follow me on socials, you might know that I’m working on an idea for making a page online that shows the various things one consumes over time. The starting point is using a Stable Internet Technology™ called RSS to provide the feed of data. Services like Album Whale, Letterboxd, and Goodreads all offer an RSS feed because it provides a way for people to track various web things on their own time using services like Feedly or Feedbin.

RSS is a bit of an old timer in web world. It was the pipeline for keeping up with things in the 2000s, but has fallen out of fashion with the rise of walled gardens like Twitter and Facebook. In case you haven’t noticed, there is a not-insignificant amount of pushback against these megacorps. While I don’t think they’re going to crash and burn, it does appear that in the future there will be a large share of the market that prefers to tend their online gardens with classic, open technologies.

It was in that spirit that I reached out to League of Comic Geeks to see if their service had an RSS feed available for the collections folks were maintaining there. If it was available, I personally would start using their service as a means of providing a feed of comics I’ve read to my new consumption service. I shared with them what my goal was for my service and why I thought their site would be a good partner. Now I realize the term “geek” generally hovers very closely around its associated adjective, but it was still surprising to receive this response from a company that embraces the geek moniker:

There are no plans for RSS feeds at this time. You may be the first to ask about RSS feeds in years.

It’s understandable that the company is not planning to implement RSS feeds. Believe me, I know how many more ideas a company usually has than time it has to implement them. However, that second sentence poking me in the eye for even asking such a silly question seems rather unnecessary.

Now I’m certainly reading this unkindly. I simply find it infuriating when companies botch simple customer support so readily. It will be my downfall because it makes me naively believe that I could succeed at various businesses simply because I’d demand human, kind communication with customers.

Of course, I realize this one person is not the whole company. Of course, I realize this one person may not really care that much about the perception others have of their company. Of course, I realize I might have caught this one person on a bad day. Of course, I realize their statement may have been more one of surprise than one of belittling. Of course, I realize I’m reading their message uncharitably.

So don’t consider this a red mark on the company’s record so much as a tale of caution. If you’re fulfilling a customer service role or handling support for your new product/app/business, think carefully what you say and how you say it. Instead of offering something that could be taken as a critique or insult, perhaps highlight the things that are interesting in your customer’s request. Acknowledge the ideas they shared that you hadn’t considered before. Or maybe just say the facts in a kind and polite manner.

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