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Small annoyances with community-based, Twitter-based support

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 1-Jan-2014 21:23

Free support for products with a huge user based can’t scale well. Large companies (including Microsoft and Google) realise this and most of the times reply with “post in our forums”, where a large group of users try to help other users and eventually someone from the company will try answering some questions.

Years ago I was a paying Google Apps customer and despite having a PIN to access support via email the reply was “please post in our forums”. I cancelled the service and moved to Office 365 (back then Microsoft BPOS) and never looked back. Microsoft’s paid support is excellent. Office 365 is very good and the Microsoft Premier engineers are very good. Microsoft folks on IIS.Net are excellent (and I had one of the IIS people  in Seattle actually help fixing a problem related to Dynamic IP Restrictions by remote accessing one of our servers).

But talk consumer products and things go down… Posts in support forums such as Google and Microsoft’s own forums are mostly answered by other users with the occasional official word coming in. Some of the answers are pretty good but most threads seem to go unanswered or replies are just more people reporting similar problems.

Then there’s Twitter. Large companies are monitoring Twitter for keywords but the fact 140 medium is limiting to describe problems, some people monitoring don’t seem to understand a question and what you see a lot is either links to completely unrelated answers or… “post in our forums’.

For example in the discussion below I replied to @MicrosoftAsia’s tweet about Skydrive by pointing out “Yes, I’m using it” and “I just can’t upload fast enough” as in if I could go faster I’d have even more stuff in there. Basically I said it’s working great, if i could I’d put more stuff in there.

What follows is someone from support contacting me asking if I have a problem. I say “thanks, but no it’s not a problem”. Even though there’s no problem they take the opportunity to remind me to post anything in the forums… I then take the opportunity to remind then that yes I do post in the forums, but never get answers (including a link to a topic about a windows 8 Mail app problem going on for months now without any solution). Their reply points to a “solution” that is not related to the same problem, not even the same product.

I think they must have a security policy of not opening links people send to them. Fair enough. But it also makes for frustrating “conversations”. I know it’s a small thing but trying to understand the question before replying with something completely unrelated is the least I would expect.



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Mauricio Freitas
Wellington
New Zealand


I live in New Zealand and my interests include mobile devices, good books, movies and food of course! 

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