Last week, I posted my e-mail response to the Zendesk representative I dubbed “Heidi” (obviously not her real name), wherein I compared her to a crazy ex-girlfriend, bent on constant reassuring contact.
Zendesk got around to responding to that sentiment directly. Fair is fair, so I’m posting the rest of the conversation, which turned out rather positive. Second impressions can still make a difference, it seems.
Although my smart-ass reply was intended to provide laughs as much as to make my point about the fanatical contact, I made no attempt to hide the fact I was writing out of annoyance. Further, I made it clear I initially had no intention of replying unless I actually needed their help during my one-month trial (now just over a week old).
The Saga Continues
Not long after sending that e-mail (that evening in my time zone), I got a reply not from “Heidi”, but from “Bob” (as we’ll call him).
For reference, here is the original post containing the e-mail I sent in response to the two e-mails and a phone call just days after starting my trial.
Here was Bob’s reply:
Thanks for your email.
Ill pass on your feedback. It’s important for us to hear your thoughts and we appreciate your time.
Groan! Not only was it weighing in light on the give-a-damn-o-meter, but it looked like they used one of their own Macro responses.
Here’s my response:
To be honest, Bob’s response looked exactly like the “Kindly fuck off and have a nice day” kind of responses I expect when I run my mouth to a company. I was wrong. Fast-forward two bottles of wine (between two people – shut up) and a day later. In an unprecedented act of bonafide give-a-damn, I received this from … aw, hell, let’s call this one “Olivia”:
Where to begin … First, please don’t take our delayed response as an indication that we’ve been ignoring you. In fact everyone at Zendesk involved in connecting with customers on the phone or through email has thought about you several if not many times today.
Second, we weren’t sure how to reach out to you – how you wanted to be spoken to. Since you responded to the email below, we’re hoping this is the way that you wanted to hear from us.
Now, the most important thing that we want to say: we apologize for annoying you. We apologize for scaring you!
I’m happy to share with you why we screwed up but I’m pretty certain that’s not important to you. What’s important to us is that you have impacted how we do business. We’ve dialed back and taken time to correct very important things that were out of whack. What Bob said below wasn’t a pat response. But he should have put some effort into acknowledging the fact that we screwed up and that you had taken significant time to point this out to us in a colorful (hope that’s the right word) and creative way. And most importantly, he didn’t apologize. Please accept our apology and know that we don’t want to be a crazy girlfriend. We want to be sound, thoughtful, reliable and responsive.
You gave us a very measured response. Thank you for that. You’re a great writer. I hope you’ll stick with us and continue to write to us. You’re feedback is on target and we’d like to hear your thoughts about all areas of our service, or as many areas as you choose to comment on.
Again, we’re sorry for the lousy communication. Please let us know if there’s anything else we can for you.
I’m an Ass
I might as well say it: my first response was to laugh my ass off. Not a cruel laugh, you see, but a surprised (and mildly delighted) laugh. A gleeful chortle, if you will. I was not expecting this kind of response at all. In fact, I wouldn’t have been too surprised if they’d “fired me” as a customer or asked me not to contact Heidi or Bob again.
Then, yesterday, I re-read the response. I was in a completely different mood, having just woken up from a nice long weekend sleep-in. I felt this odd sensation to which I’m not very accustomed. The damndest thing. I felt … bad. Yes, that’s it. I felt bad.
Now Matt tells me I shouldn’t. He believes it was a very positive outcome, but I still felt pangs of that unpleasent sensation known as “feeling bad” about one’s actions. Nasty stuff, that. All I know is Heidi hasn’t written me back (or called) once (or twice).
The Josh Problem
Okay, I’m used to entire offices discussing the “Josh Problem”. I’m an ass. Not necessarily an asshole. Just an overall ass. I speak my mind. I say what others are only thinking. I make light of serious situations even if I’m the one who’s on the hot seat.
Note: Prospective employers, please ignore that last comment. Current employers … meh, all that “consummate professional” shit was just pillow talk, baby. You knew what this was.
Emergency Meetings in the Situation Room
So, from Olivia’s response, I can only conclude that an emergency meeting had been called in the high-tech Zendesk situation room … my photo on the central screen, my blog post and e-mail spread out on their Microsoft Surface table, Heidi in a holding cell, un-showered and hungry, stripped of her black spandex tactical unitard, Bob in the next, weeping over getting himself involved.
Okay, so it probably didn’t go quite like that. Heidi was likely executed and I feel just awful about it. My intention was to be humorous, not a dick. So wherever you are, Heidi, I apologize. As I get older, I keep trying to find better ways to deal with life’s frustrations. I find humor is much better than frothing heat-of-the-moment phone calls, but it can have a bite to it nonetheless.
In any case, I’m glad they recognize how incredibly important I am and held an emergency meeting in their situation room. I worry over which picture of me they used, but that’s a minor thing, really. The important thing is, they reached out to apologize and took their power to annoy seriously. For that I’m thankful. It has definitely improved my opinion of Zendesk’s sales tactics (or at least their ability to apologize for said tactics).
Now it’s important to mention that toward the beginning of all of this, I had been in contact with their support team over a macro that broke as soon as I created it. It wouldn’t even let me delete it. It took them a few days to try to figure out what went wrong before they had it fixed but it wasn’t a show-stopper for me by any means, so it didn’t bother me (well, it bothered my OCD to see it there without the ability to clean it up, but whatever). When I asked what it was (I thought their app might not have escaped a slash I put in the name or something like that), the tech responded with a link to a documented Ruby issue. Cool. Thanks. That impresses me. I know slightly more than shit about Ruby or Rails, but not much more, however the ability and willingness to share the technical details with me is definitely something I consider “good will”.
So I didn’t mean to imply it was all bad. In fact, I’m pretty sure I communicated effectively that I didn’t think that was the case.
The Make-Up Kiss
Here’s my response to Olivia:
I don’t really work on the weekends, so I actually wasn’t expecting any kind of response until today. I’m also aware I’m not the only person in the world, so no harm done there.
On one hand, I was amused to hear about the impact my e-mail had. On the other, I was surprised to get any kind of real response, other than “we’ve removed you from our contact list”. On a third hand, if I had one, I had started to feel kind of bad since I didn’t hear back from Heidi at all. Are she and Bob alright? If not, I trust it was quick and they didn’t suffer.
I accept your apology of course, but I’m not sure it was necessary. I did kind of poke you guys in the ribs a few times (with a large pole). Some would label me an ass for not just saying, “no further contact, thanks” but imagine what they’d say had I immediately returned Heidi’s phone call in the mood I was in. It was better to wait for later and I’m glad I did. That’s when the “crazy girlfriend like Betsie” idea hit me and I immediately found the situation funny. Once that occurred to me, I knew just how to handle it.
That was a true story, by the way. Betsie really was quite nuts.
At any rate, I detailed the ordeal on my blog (because I knew my friends and family would find it “très Josh”) so it’s only fair I laude Zendesk’s followup (and of course sensationalize that too).
It should be posted shortly, but I wanted to respond to you beforehand for two reasons. First, it’s just the right thing to do, and second, because I wanted to post my response to you as well.
So: thanks for following up and thanks for rethinking the frequency and nature of contact … and yes, “colorful” is a good word.
I felt it was only right to explain my position a bit just in case there were any hard feelings. So overall, I have good feelings about the folks at Zendesk. I hope they feel the same about me (Heidi? Bob? We cool?).
Maybe I’ll e-mail, call, then e-mail again once in awhile to see if they still love me.
Update: Oh man. I knew they killed them!