Responding to Bad Situations

A couple of weeks I found a big problem in one of my client’s Wufoo forms. The submit button on a payment form had disappeared.

Despite many vain attempts to fix the problem, I eventually resorted to contacting the Wufoo support team. After all, a missing submit button on a payment form is a pretty big deal.

I don’t usually contact support. I like to try to figure out things on my own. It’s one of the best ways to learn. But the biggest reason why I cringe at contacting support at most companies is because they can be slow and unhelpful.

Unfortunately, I was really stuck in a rut. So I filled out Wufoo’s contact form and shifted to another task. Pretty soon I received a response. Wufoo was aware of the bug in the system, but the developer working on it was unavailable.

I gritted my teeth and responded that it was a fairly significant issue. This wasn’t just affecting my form, but many others as well.

They got the message.

Shortly after, I received an email that the issue was being looked at. Better than nothing, I said to myself. Within an hour, though, the problem was fixed.

I never doubted Wufoo. Their service is excellent and they have some bright people working hard to make it even better. And I think there are some lessons we can learn from the way Wufoo handled this situation.

Always respond – and respond quickly

Responding to a client inquiry as fast as possible is always good practice. Clients want to be acknowledged and silence is the worst treatment you can give them. Even if you can’t fix the issue right away, let the client know you’ve received their request and advise them when they can expect to hear back . By reducing the unknowns, you’re helping the client to feel more at ease, and a client at ease is a happy client.

Wufoo accomplished this by responding within an hour to my initial request. While I wasn’t satisfied with the first response, they still acknowledged me and gave me a timeframe as to when I could except a solution.

Have a system of priorities

Clients issues can vary in degree of importance. Some are non-essential and can be resolved in a matter of days, and some are critical and must be attended to within hours or even minutes. Determining this priority is what counts. If you’re using a support ticketing system such as Zendesk, priorities can be assigned to issues, and hopefully you have an internal system in place for dealing with these different priorities. For example, a high priority ticket must be resolved within four hours, whereas a low priority ticket can have a lifespan of two business days.

Initially, Wufoo assigned a low priority to the issue I presented them with, so I would have to wait a few days for a resolution. However, after re-presenting the urgency of the request, they shifted the priority to high and had a solution within hours.

Use agility to your advantage

The major benefit small design agencies, freelancers, and companies like Wufoo have is size – or rather lack of. Where huge companies such as Microsoft and Apple take months to roll out fixes and updates, us small-timers can dance circles around them in terms of speed and responsiveness.

This all ties in with the above points. Instead of dreading those support tickets or nagging client emails, treat them as opportunities to show that you have the ability to respond swiftly and with certainty. Wufoo demonstrated this ability by diagnosing, resolving, and implementing a fix within hours. And that’s why I’ve always recommended them.

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