In the Trenches: Relying on Customer Service When Technology Fails

by Brett Snyder

2 min read

As you may recall, Cranky Concierge switched to using Google Apps for email last year to improve the reliability and functionality of our communications system. This past week, however, a quirky little feature left us in hot water with a client. All we could do was fix the problem and rely on our customer-service skills to save face.

If you use Google Apps for email, you probably have Groups set up. This lets you establish a group that acts as an email alias and forwards messages to multiple addresses. Cranky Concierge’s main address (info@) is nothing but a group that forwards email to various employees.

Unfortunately, when you have Groups enabled in Google Apps, it gives that alias the functionality of a discussion group, including built-in moderation of incoming messages. But we don’t want to block any emails, because our spam filters already do that job when they hit our inbox. Besides, we didn’t enable this feature in the first place: the Groups functionality just comes that way.

Google is supposed to notify us if an email to the group is held for moderation, but that wasn’t happening. (The Google Apps help agent I spoke with said he didn’t know why not.) So, any email that went into moderation stayed there, without us having a clue.

For months, this hadn’t been an issue, because the feature was mainly catching spam — or at least that’s what I saw when I finally looked in queue. But over the past week, seven emails from one small-business client were sent to moderation for no apparent reason. We finally received an email from someone else at his company trying to get us to respond, which alerted us to the issue.

I’ll admit that, before I was aware of the Google Apps feature, I doubted the client’s story. Nonetheless, we worked over the weekend to get him and a colleague booked for travel. Once we figured out what happened with his emails, I immediately explained what went awry. (His is a tech company, so I figured a full explanation was best and wouldn’t be confusing.) Next, the employee who manages his account reached out and apologized, letting him know that, of course, we would not charge our urgent fees, despite helping him after hours. It was our fault.

In the end, we fixed the problem by turning off moderation, and the client seemed to accept our apology. There’s nothing worse than when technology fails you, but all you can do is hope your customer-service work can save the day.

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