Customer Service Hell: Web Conferencing

I have gone through some really bad customer experiences with online and offline services but few have rivaled that of my recent trials and tribulations with web conferencing service providers.

This all started when I suffered from dropped Gotomeeting web conferences and encountering people who requested I use a different service provider. When the web conference service you are using becomes the focus of attention it is never a good thing so I looked at alternative offerings.

I signed up for Infinite Conference, which had a really slick website and a feature list that was attractive. My trouble started when I attempted to login to “my account” to, you know, manage my account. My email/password combo was not accepted so I clicked on recover password and after a dozen or so repeated attempts to get past their captcha system I sent them an email to their customer service link. I dislike captchas in general but when they serve to frustrate legitimate users who want to get something done, they are a major problem.

That was last night, this morning there was an email in my inbox explaining that because I was on a trial I didn’t have access to the “my account” feature area.

  1. It’s not clear that there is a limitation in the trial experience… this is a UX problem.
  2. The “my account” link should take me to my account whether or not I have all the features or not. It’s still the place I would logically go to manage “my account”.
  3. The password recovery flow should clearly state the error message rather than continuously cycling the captcha, which suggests the captcha wasn’t being accepted.

All of the above are representative of a poorly designed system flow and confusing messaging on their application and website and here’s the WTF moment… I noticed that the email I received from Infinite Conference (an unfortunate product name by the way) included a thread that was clearly a result of internal communication and in reading through it the agent referred to me as a “rude customer”.

Rude? Really? I reviewed the original email I sent and this customer service agent probably has too thin skin for the role, here’s what I wrote:

Here’s the deal, I can’t login because my password isn’t being recognized and when I try to recover my password the captcha system you are using is dialed up to near impossible. You need to fix this… captchas are lame to begin with but when they primarily serve to frustrate people who are legitimate users you have to ask yourself is the scheme worth it. I can’t use my account and I haven’t even got through the trial period.

This is a fail that is all too common in “old world” customer service organizations that are measured by case benchmarks rather than their contribution to brand and product metrics. I provided very specific feedback about the product; actionable product issues that are solved by UX tweaks and everything I offered will be discarded because the customer service agent thought I was rude. And when the next customer has the same problem it will be groundhog day all over again.

So then I tried Intercall and that product experience was so bad that I wanted to immediately cancel but had to call customer support where the helpful customer service agent told me I needed to send an email to a different team in order to cancel. Why not just put that information on the customer service site and save the hassle of going through an IVR system only to find out I needed to back online? But this is a story for another post… why the hell are web conferencing services so bad?