Thinking like a geek – bad idea in ThinkGeek’s case

This Sunday’s “guest post” is from none other than Matt Mullenweg, the purveyor of the open-source (eg, free) system responsible for this blog (and millions like it), ie: WordPress.

Matt’s post from Jan 7 describes an unexpected encounter with ThinkGeek’s lame wishlist feature, but what really jumped out at me was the passive aggressive “poster geek” response he got from their customer service team.

Note to geeks: Go ahead, be surly – but it’s a really bad idea to have grumbly people on your customer service staff.

Made worse is the fact that these grumbly folks are giving those kinds of responses to an A-list blogger (ie: lots and lots of people read his blog) whose posts automatically appear on the admin page of almost every WordPress blog in existence.

Not the kind of word of mouth marketing anyone wants – especially in exactly the market that is most prone to order from ThinkGeek.

UPDATE: (Jan 21, 2008): As you can see in the comments to this post, Matt has received apologies, so to ThinkGeek’s credit – they did something once it was called to their attention. So what’s next, as Jen from ThinkGeek asks in the comments?

Seems to me the thing to do is move toward regular training of the customer service staff, take steps to identify the passive aggressives in the bunch (and find something less customer-facing for them to do if they can’t tone it down), and of course, always be monitoring your support interactions for warning signs, or worse.

It shouldn’t take an encounter with an A-list blogger like Matt for these things to get done, and of course, its possible that they are being done and this incident just slipped through the quality control cracks. But…I guess that’s the real point here. One poorly-timed mistake can get your company on the admin page of every WordPress blog, much less on an A-list bloggers radar. One poorly-timed mistake can tick off the wrong client, and cost you major league revenue over that client’s lifetime.

Being ever-vigilant about how your clientele is simply a must. Part of being ever-vigilant is doing exactly what Jen did. Following up after a mistake.

One thought on “Thinking like a geek – bad idea in ThinkGeek’s case”

  1. Hmm, I guess the fact that we posted explanations and apologies in Matt’s blog and emailed him as well didn’t make it onto the radar. :-/ I’d love some advice on how you might recommend going about making right on this kind of situation. We *really* want our customers to be happy, so that’s why we posted a comment and emailed Matt, but I don’t think anybody has noticed it, so I’m afraid that the incorrect perception that we don’t care about our customers might persist! Got any suggestions? We want feedback, so your help is appreciated. Feel free to email me directly at jen at my domain. Thanks!

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