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How to lose a customer

I'm not a difficult customer to please.  In fact, I'm pretty loyal.  I tend to stick with vendors who treat me right.  And, having been on the vendor side of customer relationships multiple times, I have sympathy for companies that deal with challenging issues.  To me, the best support happens when the company gets the right person on the issue, listens well, works hard to solve the problem, owns the issue until it's solved, and communicates very well.

Then, there's Yahoo.  I've been a Yahoo hosting customer since I started The Fein Line back in 2006.  I had no idea what I was doing and just signed up with Yahoo because they had my personal email.  I figured that I could make it work and, at the time, had the time and interest in digging in to the details.

At the time, Yahoo gave you a choice of Movable Type and Word Press.  I don't recall why, but I chose Movable Type.  I got my blog set up and, over time, customized the sidebar.  After a while, I realized that Yahoo's Movable Type implementation was missing some things I wanted, but I was never motivated to move.

Inertia set in.  I just stayed put.  I blogged away and went about my day.  Then, late last year, Yahoo sends me a notice saying that they were discontinuing their support for Movable Type and suggested I switch to Word Press.  I could continue to keep my Movable Type blog, but they wouldn't offer updates, etc.  I got the hint and started the process of moving things to Word Press.

With some design help, I got the new version of The Fein Line set up in a sub-directory of The Fein Line.  I contacted Yahoo and asked them what procedure I should follow to move this to my top-level directory so it would be at www.thefeinline.com.  They sent some simple instructions, but I was worried that they were too generic for my specific situation.

Nevertheless, I gave them a try.  And, they didn't work.  My Word Press blog was no longer accessible, including access to the admin interface.  I sent Yahoo a support email and was told that, although they confirmed my problem, they don't support Word Press technical issues.  I was stuck.

Luckily, various friends from Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn stepped forward and offered to help.  With help from a few people, we determined that the problem had to do with some configuration problem between Yahoo's hosting software and Word Press.  So, I downloaded my Word Press installation to make sure I had a backup.

Yahoo still refuses to help.  So, I am taking my blog elsewhere.  I've got some suggestions on some good hosters and will start checking them out.  I'll post later with the outcome, but I'm sure I'll be happier than I am right now.

What should Yahoo have done?  Cut out the automated replies and, after their first automated suggestion isn't applicable, have a real human look at my issue.  Send me a reply that is customized to my situation.  If you don't have enough info to do that, then ask for more info.

Next, don't tell me at the end of the process that you won't support the procedure you asked me to do.  Give me that warning up front.  They started the process of getting me to switch blog platforms, but they wouldn't own the resolution.

Lastly, when it was clear I was not happy, escalate the issue to someone who can do something.  Don't just fall back on the last thing you told me and say 'sorry'.

Soon, The Fein Line will have a new home.  And, both my blog and I will be much happer.


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You're right if you assume that support is free. I was never expecting free support. I even told Yahoo that although I am a paying customer, I'd be willing to pay them to sort out the problem. I do think that there are issues where customers expect support to be free or cheap, but that wasn't the issue here.

Hey Mike,
I'm not sure that any of the internet tools are really well supported these days. The business model just doesn't really support it. It's all about making pennies on millions of customers, and not spending too much to keep them. My wife and I generally like the Google Blogger or Blogspot solution, especially with the way it connects to Google AdSense ($$) and Google Analytics, but I haven't investigated how to get my top-level domain name integrated with this solution.
I do enjoy reading The Fein Line, so I look forward to hearing what your ultimate solution is. You can check out my wife's website at http://sandy.philpott.org and her blog at http://sandysmotherhoodblog.blogspot.com/ .

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