The 2 Rules of Customer Support

Complaints are part of the business. There is a great (and funny) thread about customer complaints at indiegamer.com.

I quote few of them here:

A friend of mine bought your “game” from Walmart. Once he finally got it to work, he and I agreed – piece of crap. And BTW – Discovery Channel called, and they don’t want their name dragged into the crappool of your company. Get a real job, you hack!


Even though it might be frustrating or annoying to get complaints, try to take them as opportunities. If somebody says something bad about your game, he might give you a clue on how to improve your game. If somebody mentions that your registration system sucks, then you have just got a good hint about what you need to improve: you can start thinkin about how to make a better registration system.

Never get into a fight with customers. Never. Don’t ever respond in anger. If you think you need to cool off, then step away from a computer. Go walk on a park. Take a night’s sleep if needed. Wait until you calm down… and then make a professional reply if that’s needed.

There are two rules about customer support:

Rule #1 – Customer is always right
Remember. Customer is always right. Or at least he has the right to tell his opinion. If he thinks your game sucks, is too expensive and you should get a ‘real job’ then he has the right for his opinion. If there’s some arguments to support him, then it’s your responsibility to consider how to improve your game to make it better. If it’s just rude email with nothing useful, feel free to ignore the email. If he thinks you have done a poor job as you don’t respond after 30 minutes, then he is right. This means you have an opportunity to make better customer service. It doesn’t mean you need to start responding in 30 minutes but it could mean that setting up a community/support forums with administrators could be helpful, or it could mean setting up an automated support email response (with TOP 10 FAQ list questions answered and office times). It could mean you should tell people that you handle emails within 1 or 2 business days. Customer is always right, and you need to treat customer complaints as opportunities.

Rule #2 – When in doubt, refer to rule #1
If your registration system ‘sucks’ according to the customer then it means your registration system could be improved. If your response is ‘but we use this expensive registration system and this is how it works. Learn how to use copy & paste’ then you have forgot the two most important rules about treating customers. If customer says your registration system ‘sucks’ then there can be 100 or 1000 more similar customers who would like to buy your game, but won’t do it because of your registration system. If you think that ‘customer is usually right’ or that ‘in this situation we cannot do anything’ then you are missing the rule number 2.

I’m not saying that you should change everything and let customers decide what to do, I’m just saying that customer is always right and every complaint carries an opportunity for improving your business.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. Had a customer (spending $20,000 a month with our company), complain that A) our price was to high, and B) that the customer was always right, so we should lower it.

    Before you jump to conclusions, their prior vendor was charging more than double what we were, and their services were failing, whereas we were error free. NOT our “opinion” but as stated by the customer!

    So, opportunity knocks – if we saving them more than $20k a month, and providing better service – where are they coming from?

    Overseas outsourcing! Wow – didn’t see that one coming. Some overseas company “claimed” they could provide what we were for one quarter the price. So our customer was willing to “compromise” and stay will us if we cut our prices in half.

    Now that you know the full background – guess what our management did… They said it couldn’t be done paying U.S. wages (we’re all in the U.S.), and since they customer’s “right”, if it’s a budget problem, and they can’t afford U.S. employees anymore, they understand.

    Well, six months later, they were paying $0.25 on the dollar and having an overseas company doing the work. Things have degraded for them, but they’re saving a ton of cash… And I’m not working for below minimum wage (what it would have taken to pull that off and keep the customer).

    When I first saw what was going on, I said – no way – the customer’s not “right”, they’re NUTS.

    Well, the customer was right, about their desire to lower expenses below what we could perform the work for. And they weren’t nuts, they just could use U.S. labor to do the work.

    Learn something new every day, not matter how strange it may sound at first.

  2. Well my first sentence is a bit strange. “THAT reminds me of…” -> the word THAT refers to the case where the original author said “don’t answer in anger”.

  3. That reminds me of a film director who does all those recent computer game to film conversions…

    I saw some threads on the internet where he defends his (really bad) films and that was sooo embarassing ;) never do that, never answer in your own forum like that (e.g. “but the game is indeed the work of a genious! We added that and that feature and it was something completely new that now one ever did before so shut up” (and in reality that feature is indeed new but it’s also the cause for the game to suck ;) )

    In the end you’ll look like a clown or something ;)

  4. Some customer service professionals believe that the customer is not always right. According to them this assumption is very dangerous and leads to many problems. Customers may sometimes be wrong without being aware of it. What we need to do is to show the better way to them. If we assume they are always right, we can’t really help them.

    But I understand what you are trying to say, and you are right.

    I suggest everyone to read Ron Zemke’s book “Delivering Knock Your Socks Off Service”.

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