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interpret the "tone" of this message.....

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38 replies to this topic

#1 of 39 OFFLINE   Ted Lee

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Posted May 10 2004 - 08:01 AM

hey guys - i've been sending out this automated message at work for many months now. in most cases, people usually reply and say "thanks" for helping them out. but a couple of days ago, i got a hostile reply from a customer. she said my message was rude, inconsiderate, insulting, blah blah blah. she ended up forwarding it to some guy who also said it was harsh, blah blah blah. anyway, i cc'd my supervisor who basically agreed that my message was fine and i didn't need to worry about anything. anyway, i'm just curious as to what you all think of the "tone" of my message. except for the deleted url (for security reasons) and the name of the application, the message is verbatim. thx! ted


#2 of 39 OFFLINE   Leila Dougan

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Posted May 10 2004 - 08:09 AM

It sounds fine to me. It give the impression that this isn't the first time it's happened (obviously) and that you're maybe annoyed, but I wouldn't call it rude. I think most people realize it's an auto-reply and don't take it personally but there's bound to be a few who don't realize it. For what it's worth, I've had that problem in the past and used an auto-reply with a very similar message.

#3 of 39 OFFLINE   Jeff Gatie

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Posted May 10 2004 - 08:23 AM

I think Dave's version is much better. The first seems a little, uhhm, pissed off or maybe annoyed.

#4 of 39 OFFLINE   DonRoeber



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Posted May 10 2004 - 08:28 AM

Yeah, you gotta figure, the only time that a customer is going to see your message is when they're already upset because something isn't working right. So maybe add some dancing bears or something.
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#5 of 39 OFFLINE   Malcolm R

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Posted May 10 2004 - 08:29 AM

It's far too liberal in the use of capital letters.

Posted Image

But, yeah, I can see how it could be a little harsh. Playing devil's advocate here, it could be interpreted as such:

Hello -

We received your trouble-ticket, but it has been *INCORRECTLY* submitted you doofus.

The URL you used to submit your request (url deleted for security reasons) is NOT the correct one and if you had half a brain you'd realize this. That URL is only for issues related to the XXX application itself. It is NOT for general support requests and sniveling, whiny customers like yourself.

Although it's a huge burden, I will forward this ticket for you just this once, but future requests like this that come into our queue will be deleted without warning if you continue to be so stupid.

I recommend you contact the helpdesk for the correct method of submitting your requests since you're obviously such an idiot that you can't figure it out yourself.

Thanks for wasting my time,

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#6 of 39 OFFLINE   Ted Lee

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Posted May 10 2004 - 08:35 AM

Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image okay, that was funny on several levels and just made my day. thx malcolm.

the reason i toned it so harshly was because people just won't listen otherwise. i had a much more generic version and the same people kept using the same url. i gotta admit that since i harshed it up, the repeat offenses went down.

as it is, i do around 10 of these a week (and that's just me personally. there's about 5 of us on my team.), so it does get frustrating.

dave, i like your "one time forward request..." part - that's nicely said. maybe i'll incorporate that...

#7 of 39 OFFLINE   MarkHastings


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Posted May 10 2004 - 09:05 AM

Stressing negative words (i.e. in all caps and surrounded by asterisks) will definitely send a bad tone. Instead of stressing the fact that they did something wrong, you should stress what they should do right.

Bad Example:
You did NOT submit the correct form. Please submit form #14.

Good Example:
You did not submit the correct form. Please submit Form #14.

#8 of 39 OFFLINE   CalvinCarr


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Posted May 10 2004 - 09:22 AM

What a dick....Posted Image....I like it..

#9 of 39 OFFLINE   Ron Etaylor

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Posted May 10 2004 - 09:33 AM

You might consider accentuating the positive thing you did for them by forwarding the ticket. Then you can point out the correct url they are to use, without getting into phrases like future attempts being deleting without warning.
At that point you've been helpful, and directed them to the correct url. If they do it again, clearly they are losers and don't deserve your helpPosted Image

#10 of 39 OFFLINE   Ted Lee

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Posted May 10 2004 - 09:45 AM

yeah, that would work, except with the complex classifying and routing, i don't even know what it would be. so my only recourse is to send to a dutymgr.

plus, my app only sends out simple text, so i can't really use any formatting codes - which is why i'm using the caps and asterisks. maybe i'll get rid of the asterisks, but i gotta leave them caps so PEOPLE TAKE NOTICE!

and you all know how i feel about using caps... Posted Image

okay, well i guess it does sound a touch harsh...i'll tone it down ... but JUST A TOUCH....

hmm...this caps ... what a unique concept......

#11 of 39 OFFLINE   Tony Whalen

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Posted May 10 2004 - 10:05 AM

Ted, gotta go with Dave's edit of your letter. While your original doesn't bother ME, I can certainly see how a more sensitive person might take it the wrong way.

#12 of 39 OFFLINE   Holadem


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Posted May 10 2004 - 10:26 AM

You should provide this link in your email (content may be offensive. It is not aimed at anyone here. You just never know...).


#13 of 39 OFFLINE   Ted Lee

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Posted May 10 2004 - 10:31 AM

omg holadem. that is *so* awesome. there i go with those asterisks again. hmmm.....could all this time at htf be affecting my professional (or lack thereof) life .... ????

#14 of 39 OFFLINE   Bob Graz

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Posted May 10 2004 - 01:52 PM

Ted, When you commented that you intended it to be harsh, you got what you wanted. While there's nothing inherently wrong with it, the tone and caps give it a harshness. I like Dave's version as well.

#15 of 39 OFFLINE   Jason Merrick

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Posted May 10 2004 - 04:04 PM


Is it even an option for you to **STOP** forwarding the requests at all??? (Like my use of **CAPS**?? Posted Image )

I am a 911 Dispatcher at LAPD and I have the same problem you have with people who call 911 because they are too lazy to look up the correct non-emergency number. On Friday/Saturday nights, up to 75% of our 911-EMERGENCY calls are for loud music and/or parties.

No matter how many times you tell someone the correct number to dial for non-emergencies, they continue to dial 911 because it's easier and they know we will transfer them to a non-emergency operator. I have tried to convince various supervisors to get that policy changed so that we could just give the caller the correct number and then disconnect the line rather than transfer them. That would force them to call the correct number if they want service. This may work for you as well... change your note to a **VERY** polite note explaining their error and instructing them who to contact to submit their request properly.

#16 of 39 OFFLINE   Steve Schaffer

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Posted May 10 2004 - 04:14 PM

The person who complained that the message was insulting is the same kind of person who will never get the message if the tone is turned down. These people will continue to misuse the system and bog it down. They're inherently lazy self-important slobs who'll continue to go on their merry way totally clogging the system and wasting your time if you don't "lay down the law". These are the same people who expect lifetime warrantys on every product they buy, never read any owner's manual, and clog our courts with frivolous lawsuits when their own ignorance gets them into trouble. They are not deserving of any consideration whatsoever, and should all die terrible deaths so the "irresponsibility" gene is soon eliminated from the genepool. The politer versions proposed here will work on me, and most all of the people around this forum, but won't work for the kind of asshole who feels insulted by the original version.
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#17 of 39 OFFLINE   Jason_Els



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Posted May 10 2004 - 06:12 PM

These are your customers. They buy your product. They keep you in a job.

Unless you produce software that reduces your age by 10 years, inflates breasts, and enlarges penises all while curing baldness and erasing wrinkles then I say:

[rant]under all circumstances, treat them like gold[/rant].

It costs 10x more money to get a new customer than to retain a happy one. A pissed-off customer will tell 10x the number of people how awful your customer service is than will a happy customer say how wonderful you are (sorry but that's how it works). On the other hand, positive word-of-mouth is the most effective advertising there is.

I think Dave's edit is far better than the original. The original reeks of, 'don't bother me you unimportant idiot.' I'm even more pissed that your boss didn't catch this; tells me that the company you work for isn't as customer-oriented as it could be.

I work in customer service. And while my whole company is about customer service, our division consistently out-ranks much larger divisions in overall customer satisfaction because we make a concious and consistent effort to make our customers happy. One of the best results of this policy is our retention is higher and so is our sales of new products to existing customers. We don't save every customer but we never let them leave thinking we haven't tried and were professional throughout their contact with us.

Every marketing guru out there hypes the importance of customer service though it's painfully obvious how few companies listen to that advice. Bending when we have to and tolerating sometimes outrageous behavior is not easy but it has resulted in not only positive but exceptional revenue through some very tough years.
For beauty is only a step removed from a burning terror we barely sustain, and we worship it for the graceful sublimity with which it disdains to consume us. - Rainer Maria Rilke

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#18 of 39 OFFLINE   Michael Pineo

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Posted May 11 2004 - 12:56 AM

Working on a helpdesk myself, I can understand what you are going through (oh boy do I understand), but I have to agree wholeheartedly with Jason. In the current IT environment, it is extremely important to treat these people as 'customers' even if you work for the same company. So many helpdesks are outsourced these days for that very reason. I think that Dave's version of your letter is perfect. It is what I would send out. MikeP

#19 of 39 OFFLINE   Tony Whalen

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Posted May 11 2004 - 02:47 AM

I agree with Jason that your boss should have caught that your letter could annoy "sensitive" folks.

Oh, I used to work help desks for many years. So I TOTALLY know the type you are dealing with. Posted Image

#20 of 39 OFFLINE   BrettB



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Posted May 11 2004 - 03:00 AM

No wonder you're not more popular. Posted Image

Provide a link to this thread,
After some uncomfortable, much needed introspection they'll straighten right up. Posted Image

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