I read an article recently about the gentleman who invented office cubes that said he felt his invention was a great disservice to society. I feel the same way about these companies who decided that the way to help businesses better manage customer service inquires was to provide stock answers for agents to respond to questions with so that they wouldn’t actually have to deal with the nature of problem or take the time to reply with a meaningful response. Yahoo is a huge offender of this technology. I am a paying customer of their enhanced e-mail service, yet anytime I have a problem and e-mail them with specifics, I get stock e-mail after stock e-mail that doesn’t address my direct issue or problem even after I had stated several times that I have tried all of their requested self help suggestions. This experience has definitely negatively impacted my view of Yahoo and its brand.
Last week, I opened my e-mail program to find that the Plaxo tool I had installed in my Outlook to help me manage other people contact information had been updated with some new features which I was less than thrilled about. The first feature affected all the phone numbers in my address book which now had ugly purple icons next to them as part of a click to call partnership that Plaxo had with another company. They also had disabled the option of requesting updates from non-subscribers, (presumably to help encourage more active users), which was a feature I probably used the most.
Frustrated, I went to Plaxo’s website and sent in a note to customer service (below), not really expecting to hear back, especially since I use the free version of the company’s software. Not only did I hear back, but within a few hours I received a note from a rep explaining how to disable the click to call feature and admitting they had received many complaints about disabling the update feature, which they had forwarded to their product team. A few minutes later, I had disabled the click to call feature following the simple instructions the rep gave me and three days later I happily noticed that the update feature was restored.
Kudos to Plaxo for taking the time to respond to customer issues in a personalized manner and a result they probably just converted me to a paying customer. Too often these days, companies use technology to avoid having to provide personalized customer service rather than as an enabler of a high tech/ high touch approach. The irony that companies like Yahoo have failed to realize is that when you try to save money by skimping on service, you often lose anything you have gained in revenue and attrition. The cube is hear to stay, but let’s hope customer service technology gets a major overhaul.
Here is the original text from Plaxo’s reply to my inquiry.
I’m sorry about any frustration or inconvenience this may have caused you. As I understand, the Plaxo toolbar on your Outlook has been auto upgraded, and you now have the Jajah icons on your Contacts list, that you would like to be removed. The new toolbar version also provides you with the option to invite your contact to Plaxo, and that option has replaced the option to ‘request updates from that contact’. You can remove the ‘Click to Call’ received icons from your Address Book, please follow these steps :
1. Click on the “Plaxo” button on the Plaxo toolbar on Outlook.
2. Then click on “Preferences” and click on the “Advanced” Tab.
3. In that, you will find an option that says “Show Click to Call icons on the Address Book”, please uncheck that option and click on “Apply and then on “Ok”. This will have removed the ‘Click to Call’ icons from your Address Book.
We have received similar requests from many of our users, that they want the option to ‘request updates’ rather than the ‘Invite’ option. We have forwarded the request to our Product Development Team, and they will decide, if how and when this feature will be reinstated into the Plaxo toolbar. We value your feedback regarding our product. It is these same feedback and suggestions that make Plaxo a better experience for our users. Again, thank you. Please let me know if you have any further questions or concerns!
— Original Message —
Received: 10/5/2006 8:36:15 AM
Subject: Why did the product change? Where are my features?
I really do not like the latest upgrade to the service that just took over my outlook. How do I remove the icons for click to call? Also, I can no longer see recent changes or chose to send someone my card or request an update. Why did these features go away? I did not download any new software, this change was kind of forced upon me.