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MMORPG.com Staff Blog

The staff of MMORPG.com gets together to bring you some behind the scenes insights on stories, the industry and the site itself.

Author: staffblog

Contributors: BillMurphy,MikeB,garrett,SBFord,Grakulen,

The Customer is Not Always Right

Posted by Stradden Friday May 21 2010 at 11:49AM
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Despite the old adage, the customer is not always right. That just isn’t the way the world works in reality.
 
The saying itself makes a lot of sense on its surface in a capitalist society. After all, it is indeed the customers who pay for the products or services from the companies who in turn pay their employees, etc. etc. etc.
 
The reality though, in my experience, isn’t so cut and dry.
 
I say this because I’ve seen this cliché used a lot lately and I’ve read it as an excuse for rude and offensive behaviour from gamers as it relates to the games that they play.
 
“As a customer, I’m entitled to having what I want, when I want it. The customer is always right. If I want to call the devs out on being lazy, unprofessional, greedy people, I have every right to do so, because I’m the one who pays their salary. The customer is always right.”
 
I’m sorry, but I read this kind of post and I can’t help but wonder what world some people are living in. In my 30 years, I’ve worked a lot of different jobs, from milk man to call center representative, to game developer, to teacher to journalist. Never, with the possible exception of my time in game development, was I ever told that I had to put up with abuse because “the customer is always right.”
 
Working at the call centres (for two distict national chains, I might add), if a customer became rude and abusive, the policy was always the same: hang up on them. As a teacher, I was told time and time again that we did not have to take verbal abuse from student or parent. On more than one occasion, I spoke to parents who I told that I would speak to when they could approach the situation in a mature fashion. I also have had enough friends working in the food service industry to know what happens when customers are rude and abusive in a restaurant.
 
From the worker’s point of view, the result is the same: ignore it. If a customer comes to you in a reasonable and measured fashion with an issue, do everything that you can to accommodate them, but if they are abusive: ignore them.
 
Sure, the illusion of “the customer is always right” still exists. Marketing departments all over will tell you that their company will bend over backwards to give their customers the best experience possible and work tirelessly to resolve any issues that they might have. That just isn’t generally the end result.
 
The reason is simple: In most cases, we as individuals, don’t mean a whole lot to a company’s bottom line. Companies, especially large companies like, say, video games publishers, don’t deal in small numbers, they deal in large numbers where the individual is lost.
 
If I choose to be rude and abusive, the company can and often does decide that it doesn’t need my business and can afford to ignore me.
 
In the world of large companies dealing with big numbers, the individual consumer’s power has never been weaker. We do have recourse. We can always vote with our wallets, and get any people we might have influence over to do the same. Organizing boycotts on as large a scale as possible is an excellent way of having your voice heard by companies. Or, there’s always trying the polite way, approaching a company reasonably with an honest grievance.
 
Whatever you own personal means of protest against what you perceive as an injustice might be, please don’t cling to the antiquated notion and bad cliché that “the customer is always right.” It won’t get you anywhere. That’s just not how the world works.
 
Yilelien writes:

The difference is that your new customers can hide behind there key boards and dont have to face you man to man. They are able to call you all sorts of names and tell you what a bad job  you have done and the most that you can do is ban them from your site.

 

 Its great how our new world is working out dont you think......

Fri May 21 2010 12:06PM Report
LtJohnnyRico writes:

Oh the Developers' lament...another article that is rubbish.

When a majority of your customers tell you something you are doing is wrong and they are going to leave the game, then the customer is right and it is time for them to rethink that policy.

Fri May 21 2010 12:10PM Report
Kothoses writes:

Oh my is MMORPG.com becoming the last bastion of the poor mistreat developer.

 

Lets make one thing clear Big Companies work on big number B*llocks. 

 

It is a known fact amongst marketing people that 1 disatissfied customer will tell his story on average to ten people, those ten people will tell 9 people each and so on and so forth (in appx numbers, one dissatisfied customer will lead to 1000 people hearing about how shoddy you treat him or her).

 

IT takes 10 satisified customers to generate 1 reccomendation (note not sale, reccomendation) if big companies ignore their customer base then they will lose customers.  Look at Cryptic, they suck they released a crap product that no one liked and now are suffering because of it.

 

THIS IS JUSTIFIED.

 

Calling people out on a personal level is not, but negative feedback because of a crappy product is.

 

Stop being in the pockets of the commercial entities and stop trying to convince us our voice in a consumer market doesnt matter, it does you might not like it but.

 

 

 

WE STILL PAY THE SUBS AND BOX SALE PRICE THAT PAYS THE PUBLISHERS WHO PAY YOUR WAGES.  KEEP US HAPPY WE WILL LOVE YOU, SHORT CHANGE US WE WILL HATE YOU.  GET OVER IT.

Fri May 21 2010 12:21PM Report
Natzrat writes:

The only time when "the customer is always right" apply is when you're trying to sell something. It really only mean that, as a salesman, you shouldn't contradict your customer or you might ruffle some feathers and have a hard time closing the deal. You should make him feel like he's right to get on his good side and then you can sell him anything.

Fri May 21 2010 12:28PM Report
revslave writes:
Hey Hey
I think the big issue is that you will never please your entire customer base.  It is impossible for all of your customers to be right all of the time.  
 
 An easy example would be, you are at a nice restaurant, you expect good service, and a good atmosphere.   Sitting next to you is a family with two young kids, who are yelling and running around.  You complain to the waiter about the noise, the other family complains that you are telling their kids to sit down and be quite.  Both customers can not be “all right.”
 
MMO’s are large community service based industries.  There can never be the expectation or the obligation to make all of them happy, because at best it would be a cluster fuck.  DO you listen to the hard core player, the pvp players, the role-playing community, the wizzards , the tanks, the solo'ers, the older fans ……
 
This is not to say that a dev team cannot make very bad decisions, but the players cannot expect every one of their wish to be fulfilled. 
 
The best you can hope for is a company that does not wall themselves in, and miss glaring issues, and a community that understands that there are other people playing the game.
 
Welcome Home
Rev
Fri May 21 2010 2:09PM Report
Muntz writes:

As a consumer you need to advocate for yourself.  You do not have to pay for the game. You do not have to rush in and buy the latest game just because it is shiny and you have to have it. Sometimes as a customer you apply what you want the game to be from the vague but enticing marketing campain. As a customer you could wait for information to become available and decide if it really is the game for you. Once purchased, if the direction of the game is going south, from your perspective, you can leave. Stop paying them money. From the perspective of an MMO customer you do have a right to voice your opinion but you are wrong if you think you are some how entitled to have your opinion actually heard or action taken on it. I have seen many customers threaten to leave or more humorously predict a mass exodus if their needs or wants aren't met. Many of those players are still playing the games I long ago left. No MMO with any sense is going to be held hostage to such BS.

That is not to say the voice of the customer doesn't count for anything. Feedback is very valuable if an MMO can manage to figure out what feedback is good and what is bad. But a company would be foolish to wave in the wind on every customer comment. From what I have seen customers rarely are able to come up with innovation by themselves although feedback could be used to drive innovation.  I think the issue is how can a developer get to the constructive feedback quickly and avoid all the whiney qq crap that has become so dominate in game forums. If the volume is great enough to make the task difficult I could see not wanting to deal with it at all because it is time that is wasted that you could use to make the game better.

Fri May 21 2010 2:24PM Report
eburn writes:

Bad product, bad service = Tabsula Rasa

People get too passionate about MMORPGs because they have this sense of ownership with games. Look you want to hurt that bad company that made you feel like an idiot? Stop whining, stop paying, go elsewhere.

The customer is the twit willing to part with money for what you got.

Fri May 21 2010 2:37PM Report
SnarlingWolf writes: You could write 10 articles like this and people still won't understand and will continue to think they can act like jerks all they want. And no 1 disatisfied customer doesn't in anyway come close to creating 1000 disatisfied customers to the person who posted that amazing math. You know the devs ignore you when you are an ass. But yet you fight tooth in nail to say that being an ass is ok. Why? You will still be ignored, so instead why not catch on and not be an ass and work on getting your points across in a mature way. Fri May 21 2010 2:57PM Report
Nesrie writes:

I've worked at a call centers too. Yes, people are rude. You know what the good reps do, they calm the fire. You know what most the MMO compnies do, they throw gasoline on the fire and then run to the their media friends to talk about how awful their role in life is.

Fri May 21 2010 3:06PM Report
maplestone writes:

MMOs, like many subscription services, are (by design or by entrepreneurial accident) uncomfortable for the customer to walk away from.  Thus, like any stressed animals feeling cornered, customers in that disasstisfied-by-not-yet-quitting window are going to lash out randomly.  A certain level of angst is simply the logical result of the business model.

Fri May 21 2010 3:27PM Report
maplestone writes:

(addendum: I think what really shows this to me is the number of people I see who log into a game's message board to complain a year or two *after* quitting ... these are people having a hard time letting go)

Fri May 21 2010 3:29PM Report
Ceridith writes:

The customer is right as far as a company cares to get their money. If a company doesn't meet my expectations, they won't get my money.

People complain because they want to enjoy the product or service, but can't for whatever reason. This is compounded if they have been enjoying the product or service for some time, but for whatever reason somethign has either accumulated over time, or changed, to cause that to change.

Businesses exist to make money, and they base their decisions based on that premise. Customers shouldn't expect a company to bend to their will, and their will alone. That said, a company also shouldn't expect to be able to do whatever they want and expect customers not to complain or to go along with it either. This is especialyl true for companies who think it's a good idea to drastically change their service.

Fri May 21 2010 3:58PM Report
Yamota writes:

Not how the world works? Really, is that the reason why most service professions bend backwards to be polite and nice to you? Are they doing it out of their goodness of their hearts?

No, they do it because they want your money. Not saying that it is an excuse to be rude and abusive, or that it is okay, but a customer and salesmen relationship is not en even one and in a capitalistic society will never be one.

Customer give money to salesperson and as such expects something in return, not the other way around.

Fri May 21 2010 4:13PM Report
Jairoe03 writes:

Yes, but just because a customer gives a person money doesn't give them the right to abuse the other person. That's also not how the world works and usually most - if not all places - reserve the right to revoke paid priveleges if you want to try and abuse your position. How far would you go to get what you feel "entitled" to after paying for something?

 

Are you really going to curse out a human being for bad service even after many valid attempts of trying to please you despite verbal abuse? No, you'll probably just stop providing the establishment with your money at the worst, at least if you are the better person, of course.

Fri May 21 2010 4:25PM Report
Sarethor writes:

I am amused by the customers within this thread who think that paying their subscription gives them carte blanche to say/behave/demand anything they want from the developers of a game (or anything else).  Most who have worked in development empathize with MMO developers as they're likely given a huge design problem and typically limited tools/timelines to work with - then you add in the abusive playerbase.

As mentioned, as a customer in any situation, if you find yourself dissatisfied with the service/product the only real power you have is to stop paying for it.  Instead what you find is the players railing against the establishment with arguments devoid of objectivity and "supported" by "data" grade school playground rhetoric containing enough logical fallacies to cover any graduate level philosopy class.

I've played WoW since the end of the closed beta and the constant cycles of petulant whining by both kids and adults at the developers is troubling.  It speaks to a serious undercurrent in today's western society which isn't a good one.  Just like in real society, my opinion is that there needs to be accountability and there isn't much of any.

Contrary to the typically ignorant public view, MMO margins aren't huge due primarily to the infrastructure costs and the real accountability factor for the playerbase is minimal due to the potential impact to the bottom line. 

WoW is the pinnacle example of letting their customer base get away with near anything.  It's easy to infer that they made a conscious choice to turn a blind eye to many of the "illegal" activities which have been around since Burning Crusade and have steadily made the game "more accessible" ie. easier throughout its history.  Wall Street drives a games management/development philosophy - anyone who thinks otherwise is seriously deluded.  It's smart from a purely business sense as the vast majority of the playerbase is what you could consider utterly casual through can/has raid infrequently.

WoW has the benefit of being the best MMO product available for the masses and they're going to milk that cow and limit the casual players departure for as long as they can.  It's to be expected.  For those of us who play the game at a reasonably high level, we need something else to come along that we're willing to play in order to leave.

I'd implore everyone to respect game developers more.  Their job isn't easy as they're caught between the corporation and the customers.  Many probably don't agree in principle with some of the changes they've been forced to implement but that's their job and we all need to pay the bills.

Fri May 21 2010 5:55PM Report
Mirrandor writes:

Are those of you who argue that your monthly subscriptions should mean so much to everyone else that you are callous to the world as a whole?

If you think about it, you're paying approximately $15/month. Let's translate for a second. You're roughly paying for 1 hour of a game developer's paycheck. Now if you're so important and your arguments are so great, then let's let that 1 hour of time that you are paying for develop what you want.

1 hour of development time equates to basically, very little if not any code or graphics design. Your 1 hour is basically saying, "I'm wanting change, I'm wanting it now. I don't care if other people don't want it, I want it". It doesn't matter if 100 other people are asking for something completely opposite, you're going to get mad that your 1 hour isn't as important as their combined 100 hours. And your response is to arguably attack a person's character, and in doing so showing that you are lacking in character yourself.

The development world isn't cut and dry. There's hundreds of man hours that go into a simple feature. You don't think those UI's, creature models, and player models are just magically there in a minute, do you? It takes alot of time and effort and if you are publicly demeaning a developer because you feel that it is your right as a customer, I think they should cut you off right there because you are obviously taking things too far and you are probably suffering a social malfunction because of it.

I think I my 1 hour of pay is worth it to me to get what I enjoy, but what I get is rehashed stuff because most of the complaints given to the developers are people wanting the exact same thing that they had in the last game they played. I switch games because I want something new, not the same thing.

When WoW first came out, I was all about their talks about city sieges, city captures, resource gathering, large scale raids, and full PvP mechanics. What I got was an epic battle over Tarren Mills and Southshore, until battlegrounds released. Then it was the death of world PVP. I wanted world pvp, but many people found BGs more fun. I wanted to scream and whine, but I never once attacked the developer's directly. I greatly disliked their decision, and I still, to this day, feel as if battlegrounds (or whatever moniker you want to give them) are a ruination of any and all PVP.

You have to make your aguments in a professional and meaningful way. You can't just verbally abuse someone because you have no real life implications from it. If I were still developing, I would choose to ban anyone who attacks or threatens my developers. The fact of the matter is that obviously they are so emotionally attached to a game that they would become harmful to themselves or another, and maybe a 30 day ban would allow them to come to some realization that there are other outlets that might be more in line to their needs.

We have to stop feeling as though the internet is a fantasy that is there for us to do with as we please because it's anonymous. The fact of the matter is that cyber bullying is a becoming more and more an issue in everyday life and is causing lots of problems. Attacking a developer with words is the same as cyber bullying.

If you feel the need to attack someone who spent countless hours making the thing that you play and enjoy (or don't enjoy), then maybe you need to take a step back and come to a personal realization of what is the most important to you. The 1 hour of development time that you are affording a company, or the emotional and metaphysical existences that you live in right now.

Fri May 21 2010 7:04PM Report
Betaboo writes:

You produce a good product and people are going to fall all over themselves to tell you how good you are.

Produce a shoddy half finished product and people are going to trash you and the company you work for relentlessly.

if you dont like it then maybe you should

A: make a better game.

B: find another line of work.

Fri May 21 2010 7:27PM Report
Nesrie writes:

Your calculations are off. Let me help you. 1 subscriber per month = 1 hour of employee time. so 100k subs = 100k hours worked, or divide that by 40 so 2500. That's your math not mine. I'd probably do something along the lines of 1 hour = 1/2 hour or less but we'll do 1/2 because its already more generous than what you did. so 100k subs = 50k hours worked or at 50 hours a week, 1000 employees. This is of course very basic but we'll just cut that in half because not employees work on content or fixes.

So 100k subs to support 500 employees at 50 hours a week to work on content and they still can't even launch a game that works, i mean actually works.We're not even factoring in box prices of features, just a functioning game.

Then you have developers and publishers whining about patience and everyone just relax, give them years, yes years to fix problems and actually implement features they advertised, in writing, to get you to buy the box. Oh did i mention that part that your patience and your silence has a price, yep, you are to continue paying them to the grand tune of just under 300 dollars  (box price and a year's sub) for them to fix their game and while they are working so hard to fix their game, they'll push some of their valuable resources off to the side to make new content to stack on the old not working content that they want to sell to you for, yep, more money. So everyone just keep shoveling money at the dev and pubs while they fix something for a year, oh and while you are at it, don't say anything. Yep nothing. If you can't pat them on the back and hand them your wallet, don't say a word. They don't want to hear it. Oh, and they don't want you to leave either, because, yeah they want your money.

So customers, your role is to give them money whenever they ask for it, however they ask for it for as long as they tell you honest, they're working on it and never complain, ever complain because by god if you complain while handing someone money you are worst than the people who never bought their game in the first place.

 

I just can't imagine by this relationship is falling apart!

Fri May 21 2010 7:29PM Report
Morgaren writes: The customer is not always right, but the customer is always the customer. people seem to forget though, that they do not single handedly pay a developers salary. that alot of ego driven bullsh*t from the ones who do think that. They are business people that learn to manage risk. its really simple concept, and...you know I'm going to quit typing, the people who get it already know, and the people who already know everything are too busy typing the "truth" so the rest of us uneducated saps can get a clue. Fri May 21 2010 8:33PM Report
Arletta writes:

First off, good article.

Second, (I'm about to get buried for this one.  Should I look forward to it?) he's right, the customer isn't always right.  Just because you don't like the way a game company is doing something (or not doing as the case may be) does not give you the right to be rude or abusive IN ANY WAY.

You pay your money.  If you are not happy then you have the option to walk away, to stop paying your money and to walk away.  That applies to any company from games to gas, electric, water, even schools.

If you've an issue then talk to somebody in a mature manner, or don't talk to them at all.  If you yell the odds, or try then they've got the right to ignore you.  If they start ignoring you once, chances are that they'll continue to ignore you no matter whether you pay $15 a month or $1500 a month and all for the sake of being polite.

Fri May 21 2010 8:52PM Report
neosapience writes:

Generally people complain about a product because of 2 reasons:

1. They were lied to about the product.

2. They didn't research the product well enough.


Once someone realizes the product isn't what they wanted, they're left with 2 options - return it or resell it. This leads us to the biggest frustration with video game purchases: games are non-refundable. At best, (if you buy console games) you can trade them in for a fraction of what you payed.


This leads to very angry customers that feel like they've been duped. They expect you to 'fix' the product, which is something you couldn't possibly ask of 99% of the tangible product manufacturers in existence.

 

Game developers are then left with the arduous task of trying to satisfy one customer without causing trouble for the thousands of other customers that are fine with how the game currently works. Of course, if a great deal of your customers are complaining about the same issues, then it's likely your product needs some work.

 


None of this warrants abusive behavior (at least not towards the poor customer service rep), but there's little you can do to prevent angry customers. I don't agree that hanging up on people is the right thing to do. People will often calm down if they feel their complains are being heard. Even if they never get their issues resolved, it can be very comforting to know that someone at least tried to be of help.

Sat May 22 2010 1:07AM Report
Malvious writes:

Its in human nature to complain, abusive behaviour went wrong with the parents and people's backgrounds. Plus the fact its on the internet. If people would threat me like that in RL id fucking punch them in the grown. All these nerds on the internet think they are so great becuase they are behind a keyboard.

 

See what i did there?

Sat May 22 2010 2:15AM Report
choujiofkono writes:

Betaboo writes:

You produce a good product and people are going to fall all over themselves to tell you how good you are.

Produce a shoddy half finished product and people are going to trash you and the company you work for relentlessly.

if you dont like it then maybe you should

A: make a better game.

B: find another line of work.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

This is exactly right.  As in the evolution of all things there must be balance.  The gamers do the balancing by voting with their dollars.  Without dollars the developer who is making crap games and spending more time developing capitalist tactics than game content would be face down in the dirt where they belong.

The customer is you.  The "right" side of any argument of course will always be debated.  The developers want to make it so you don't even have the chance to argue so the only way to let yourselves be heard is with a vote of your wallet.  Instead of paying for some substandard piece of feces and waiting for a developer to add content or charge you in an item shop for items that would have filled the game out to begin with, stand up to them and say no with your dollar.  If everyone did this they'd have no choice but to put the content in the game where it belongs or risk losing the subs and their entire venture.  By supporting item shops you are basically telling them you don't care what they do to you.

Sat May 22 2010 3:10AM Report
toxicmango writes:

"It is a known fact amongst marketing people that 1 disatissfied customer will tell his story on average to ten people, those ten people will tell 9 people each and so on and so forth (in appx numbers, one dissatisfied customer will lead to 1000 people hearing about how shoddy you treat him or her)."

That is exactly how it is. Most satisfied customers will just keep quiet.  However it is more likely a dissatisfied customer will give negative PR.  Considering companies spend $ to try and drum up positive PR, it's short sighted to ignore the negative PR such unhappy customers can spread for free on their own time.

That was precisely how it was when CCP was caught engaged in corruption and cheating in EVE.  People left either because they were the direct victims or disgusted by the corruption.  However it is not merely the matter of canceled subscriptions but the subscriptions that never happen due to bad word of mouth.  It is easy to track 20-30 sudden canceled subscriptions but what about that 20-30 that never signed up after hearing the negative word of mouth.   Unfortunately humans and companies in general are usually not very good at noticing prevented outcomes, or things that do not happen.

Sat May 22 2010 3:15AM Report
Hopscotch73 writes:

I agreed with the original Us Vs Them article, and I agree with this one too, just can't type up that wall o'text again.

I have 2 decades of experience in one form or another of CS, and I can vouch for the fact that while companies will let the customer think they are always right, they consider some to be more right than others (apologies to George Orwell).

Customers may not like the illusion of them being king being shattered - and some have indeed reacted to it with outpourings of bile and vitriol. But it's just a simple fact, you are a person, dealing with other people and if those people are abusive towards you (in person, on the phone, on the web) you are going to be less inclined to help them, It's a fact.

Most companies have thresholds built in to proect their CS staff from getting burned out by taking customer abuse, the problem customer gets escalated to a manager (and thinks they're getting special attention) and the lowly CS person is protected from the rage, and the manager is generally the one who can (and will) tell the customer to behave reasonably or take their custom elsewhere. I've duty-managed CS teams for a computer multinational, and told customers that we could not support them anymore based on how they treated our staff. I'm talking people screaming abuse here.

Being on the end of a phone or behind a keyboard makes people forget they're dealing with other human beings. It would behoove people to remember that, treat others with respect and in turn they will recieve good service. In any and every industry. 

How is asking for customers to behave with a modicum of decency somehow anathema to a bunch of people here? You're all free to behave how you like, all Stradden is pointing out is that better behaviour will get a better response.

Sat May 22 2010 3:38AM Report
Nesrie writes:

There is a difference between outright abuse and threats, and very strong negative opinions. The OP and the industry people on the cite want to blur the two. If you get on a phone and tell the person that you bought this piece of crap product that has been broken since day one and can't believe some idiot designed it in a way that the handle broke with any amount of pressure placed on it, a typical and reasonable individual will listen to your rant, often times apologize, and give you a refund. That is NOT the same as saying you are going to hunt someone down, or that you want them to beg to keep you as a customer, it's not the same as someone laughing at the idea of suicide. Telling someone you think this is lazy programming, bad writing, terrible CGI, an awful screenplay...

This is an entertainment industry. If you can't handle a bad review, don't put out a product to be received and reviewed. If you are going to shovel out crap, someone is going to tell you it's crap, and they're not going to be nice about it. There is nothing wrong with that.

Swearing at someone, threatening their families, laughing at suicide jokes.. that' stepping over th eline and that is NOT what most angry players are doing. And yes, if there was an option to get a refund, you can bet there would be a lot less fuel on the fire, but oh no, the industry certainly isn't going to do that are they? That would mean they would have to be actually accountable to the people who feel they were scammed.

 

No one likes to be a mark, and that is how developers and publishers and industry people are treating players, as easy marks, and then they want to know why their latest mark says hey, I've already lost my money, so the next best thing is to let everyone know why I am unhappy. If it's not on the official forums, they'll find somewhere else to do.

The arrogance of some of these companies. Think of all the other companies out there. Some customer walks into a grocery store, sees a dirty floor, leaves and never comes back, telling everyone xyz corner market is filthy. Xyz corner market hasn't got a clue it ever happened. And they would like to. Patient X stops seeing the doctor, switches to another because he made an offensive joke... no clue as to why Mrs. B never came back. Here they are, witha  wealth of information about what is going, and the best these industry people can do is go whine about their plot in life. Here's what I could do, hire a third party, not a developer who is too close to the project, not some company shil who is so devoted to the game they wind up locking every negative thread in the forum and send all the complaints to sites they never see it. If it's too close to home, have someone else sift through the information and pass it on. So that 6 months later when someone says WTF, where is the full PVE option for klingons, what are you lazy programmers doing, it turns into customers want to know why we have implemented the featurse we promised at launch. Developers, CEO, marketing teams... they shouldn't be on the forums. customer service should be there.  Oh but wait, i forgot, developers/publishers.... yeah they don't like having customer service around. that costs money, eats profit and all.

Sat May 22 2010 5:01AM Report
xSh0x writes:

First you say the customer is not always right, and then you try to back it up by saying developer's shouldn't tolerate abuse by customers.

These are two completely different arguments.

Customers are always right, even if they want something stupid.  Give it to them.  It worked great for religion back in the middle ages.

Sat May 22 2010 5:21AM Report
hoopty writes:

Companies get what they deserve for there shady bussiness Practice,through past and present years..And yes Customers are always right regardless..

Sat May 22 2010 6:54AM Report
Horusra writes:

when did "the customer is always right" turn into "the customer can be as rude as they want".  That is not what the saying means or was meant to mean.  I find this article to really be pointless.

Sat May 22 2010 7:10AM Report
teakbois writes:

For an MMO developer, listening to the customer is always shaky ground.

Everquest 1 listened to their customers.  'Travel times are too long.  We cant group with our friends of different races without making an hour long dangerous journey.'.  So, Plane of Knowledge is born.  Then all they here is 'Plane of Knowledge ruined EQ!  The port books are why I quit!'

 

Now, just about every MMO company could use better people relaying information about downtimes and such, but listening to what players want about content is a very tricky situation.

 

 

 

Sat May 22 2010 7:26AM Report
Horusra writes:

but it can go the other way.  If the majority of customers demand something and the companies fails to give the customer what they want they also leave.   Shadowbane and SB.EXE errors fix as an example.  SWG and NGE.  etc. 

If you are going to listen to a minority of customers then you are bound to fail most of the time.  If you fail to listen to the majority of your customers you will fail almost all of the time.

Sat May 22 2010 9:01AM Report
astrob0y writes:

"Stop being in the pockets of the commercial entities and stop trying to convince us our voice in a consumer market doesnt matter, it does you might not like it but." 

 

Yes. I couldnt have said that better with my poor english. 

 

Sat May 22 2010 10:07AM Report
astrob0y writes:

Not that the customer always has right :) 

Sat May 22 2010 10:08AM Report
Rodentofdoom writes:

The customer is always right ....

 

no

 

the customer is mostly stupid ....

 

forums generally propogate mob-rule ... mob-rule by it's nature prohibits any chance of intelligence discourse

 

 

Earth - nice planet, shame about the people.

Sat May 22 2010 10:26AM Report
Horusra writes:

forums are the vocal minority in most cases also.  You who is really stupid.  The one that follows the vocal minority or the one that listens to the silent majority.

Sat May 22 2010 10:42AM Report
Horusra writes:

Make that "Who is really stupid?"...not "You who is really stupid."

Sat May 22 2010 11:06AM Report
Palazious writes:

I own several retail businesses and the standard we go by is that about 4% of customers are very wrong and will cost you far more then what you'll profit and you will still not contain the bad propoganda they will spread about your business.  There's simply no amount of service or money you can throw at them to make them a happy customer.  I've always felt that if you send them away to your competition then they will double their money losing transactions/returns as well as the bad propoganda while giving my employees a much better working environment and the business will maintain a much better reputation.

"Customer is always right" is what bad customers use to justify thier awful actions trying to get over on reputable businesses.

With that being said though,  I feel that in the MMO environment (and any niche of business)  there is a lot of crap being pushed into the market and if the product/service is subpar then their reputation/success should reflect that.

Sat May 22 2010 11:26AM Report
CayneJobb writes:

"The customer is not always right" is especially true for game development, because most players have no idea how a game is made and what makes a game fun.  Given full control over their favorite MMO, most of the players who complain a lot on forums would make their particular class more powerful, because unless they can consistently pwn their enemies the game must be broken.  Once that's done, however, they would quickly get bored with the game and quit because they'd find that there's no challenge anymore.  And somehow that would be the developer's fault, of course.  Game design is an industry where it's very difficult to allow customer input because customers' suggestions are just as likely to ruin a game as to improve it.

Sat May 22 2010 12:07PM Report
Wraithone writes:

The saying has more to do with an attitude of service, than requiring that one suffer abuse.  Simply because any given customer makes up only a tiny part of the customer base, doesn't prevent attitudes towards one, from spilling over into a general disregard for customers in general.

In reality, of course the customer isn't always right. But they are ALWAYS *customers*. Any business that forgets that had better hope that they don't have any effective competition(Comcast comes to mind in all too many areas) so that they can get away with poor customer service.

Sat May 22 2010 12:17PM Report
kellerman24 writes:

I always wondered why in every game there's so much whiners. Why do they even bother so much just to write things like 'blabla bla, you suck, bla bla, I'm all that matters because I pay the end!'    

Criticism in civilized manner is always good, but rude behaviour doesn't help at all.

What's important companies look at the bigger picture. We're statististics to them and we can vote with our wallets. Dev made a change so major that you want to shout 'Noooo, you're idiots' then cancel your sub, don't stay on the forums and bitch about it and play it in the same time.

 

Anyway, as many people agreed customer isn't always right - don't forget that this spaghetti you just ate (horrible of course) may be tasty for the next ten people! Other matter is why did the cook change the recipe if it was perfect ....

Sat May 22 2010 2:46PM Report
Horusra writes:

"CayneJobb writes: ...because most players have no idea how a game is made and what makes a game fun."

 

Nice...you are saying most players do not know what makes a game fun....really.  It is your job to tell them what fun is I guess.  Not like "fun" is something people just know and differs from person to person.

 

Sorry but "The company is always right."  I hardly correct either.

Sat May 22 2010 3:20PM Report
Vekuru writes:

The customer is always right has nothing to do with customers being rude. It's a fact, and you may not like it but customers have money, business provide the product, video game or otherwise. I'm always right because at the end of the day if the product isn't what I want, I have the option of returning it, not buying another one of your products, telling other people how terrible your product is, and essentially you lose business. The reason the customer is always right is because we have the 'final' vote on whether a product is good or not with our wallets.

 

Sorry, but you're wrong.

Sat May 22 2010 3:46PM Report
brostyn writes:

Sorry, Stradden. You're wrong. Stop your crusade.

You are right that people shouldn't beat on devs. Say your piece, and walk away. That is what should be done. Customers shouldn't get into personal attacks, but that isn't the way it is. Most customers are good people, but the bottom 20% are a true pain Devs have to stay professional. They just have to. They are the ones getting paid. Just like that McDonald's manager you cussed out can't pull a Derek Smart if he/she wants to be employed tommorrow.

Whatever is in your past that makes you so livid towards the people that pay your bills needs to be let go. All one can do is learn from their own experiences.

The customer is always right is not an illusion. Its a fact that every sucessful business adhers to. Once the customer is wrong guess what? No more customer.

My job for the past 10 years has been dealing directly with the customer. Believe me, I know how frustrating it is to be told you(or your company) didn't do a good enough job. I just learn from it, and take pride in the fact that I usually can change their mind by making it up to them in some fashion.

Sat May 22 2010 4:14PM Report
MrDrez writes:

First of all, can we stop using the food industry as some kind of example to prove/disprove our points?  We're not helping the fat, lazy gamer stereotype here, people...

Secondly, let's also stop trying to define our world with cliche phrases.  Life is way, way too complicated to sum up any situation with five words: "The customer is always right." Really?  So if I say WoW needs to let me start the game with a level 80, I'm right?

The MMO industry is a much more complicated animal than any other business.  No one spends 400 hours in a Wal-Mart, for fun.  This is a different place, and to survive, there must be different rules.  Here's one of them: not every customer who complains is a valid customer with a valid complaint.  However, the responsibility of understanding this and responding appropriately lies on the shoulder of the company.  Asking a 13-year old to behave himself when whining about how underpowered his class is ain't gonna happen.  

So, what do you do?  Smile and nod.  It's all you can do. Customers don't like the idea that they're not being taken seriously, but many customers don't deserve to be taken seriously.  Game devs don't like it, either, because their job would be a LOT easier if all they had to do to make a WoW-killer is listen to what every little Joe and Jane gamer said they wanted.  

THIS is the world we live in: a world where you have to think not only about what to say, but what to listen to.   

 

Sat May 22 2010 5:45PM Report
ArcAngel3 writes: "The customer is always right" is certainly no excuse for abusive behaviour. I saw a verbally abusive woman removed from a store just last week that illustrated this fact nicely. At the same time, MMO companies should be aware that customers will vote with their feet when they feel mistreated or taken for granted. You may say that MMO companies don't really notice when this happens. I disagree. I think SOE, for example, has taken notice when their actions have been followed by a mass player exodus, server closures, job loss etc. etc.. When you alienate one customer, chances are you're going to lose a bunch more for the same reason. They're "right" because their decision to leave is final. There is no court of appeal; that's the meaning of the phrase by the way. If you've lost business due to your actions, you're "wrong" and the customer is indeed "right" to go somewhere else for the service. Sat May 22 2010 9:41PM Report
Baffa writes:

I've seen alot of arrogant idiot devs and spoken to a few from callcenters.

I don't know anything about the guys working at the call centers but I know those games with those lousy devs arent around anymore.

Even if you belive you are right but the general mass think you are wrong you really need to adjust to the customer is always right if you still want your money.. If you can't handle it well, maybe you should look for another job.

Sun May 23 2010 2:59AM Report
ElGuappo writes:

The customer is always right, every time. Now you, as a supplier, fully have the right to try and convince him that he's misguided or badly informed and thus attempt to change his POV with regard to the product/service you offer, but you can't simply dimiss him.

 

The real world that this article pretends to recognise demands that whilst your customer can't have everything he wants and he knows it, he does deserve recognition. And this is where most developers fall flat on their face.

 

They lay out their schedule and stick to it, paying lip service at best to the needs of the customer base. They fix X because that makes it easier to fix Y and Z for them but they ignore fixing B even though that's what the majority of customers are complaining about. They ignore feedback threads that contain endless posts on the same bug or broken mechanic because that item is further down the list. Devs introduce new content before old content's even working properly and then they throw up their hands when the customers ask why.

 

Feedback to customer complaints is the number one failing of pretty much every developer and supplier. You invite feedback and then dismiss it or ignore it because you don't agree.

 

And this kind of high-handed, tactless article only reinforces why so many customers have so much to complain about.

Sun May 23 2010 3:18AM Report
Trogdorn writes:

Sadly, it seems that in this day and age the high level of self-centerdness and lack of civility means that I can say and do whatever I feel like, completely disregarding others feelings. Hiding behind a keyboard just amplifies the problem. Rather than being rude, bashing and hurtful, it's better to just vote with your feet and not give your business to companies that provide poor service. (steps off soap box and goes back to the real world)

Sun May 23 2010 4:06AM Report
Daffid011 writes:

The old saying isn't "The customer is always nice".

Sun May 23 2010 9:06AM Report
Draemos writes:

ignore or piss off enough of your customers and you better take a good look around the office, because someone is getting laid off to cover the loss of that income.

Sun May 23 2010 10:47AM Report
Tardcore writes:

The customer may not always be right, but the consumer pays the bills. If you are providing goods or services for a fee you had better be careful not to bite the hand that feeds you. Otherwise get ready for the poor house. In other words, the Piper calls the tune.

That said, I completely agree with your point that just being a customer does not invalidate you from acting like a rational human being. Or as I like to say "Just because you are paying for something you don't gain free license to become an @$$hole." You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar so to speak. .. Which frankly isn't an idiom I've ever agreed with due to the fact you catch the most flies with crap.

And if that last sentence doesn't eloquently sum up the current state of the MMORPG industry and web blogging in general, then I don't know my arse from a hole in the ground.

Sun May 23 2010 11:49AM Report
Terranah writes:

Your example of people who work in the food industry doing things to the product to get back at customers they don't like makes me wonder if the same thing isn't happening in the mmo industry.  Are developers and programmers purposely sabotaging the product to spite the community or managers they feel are hostile to them?

 

 

 

 

Sun May 23 2010 12:50PM Report
tcuvillier writes:

The problem with customer feedback is that players going to forums represent 10% if not less of the game's playerbase and a lot if not most of them come because they are angry.  The only way around that is  to do in game polls.

Sun May 23 2010 8:31PM Report
astrob0y writes:

"Are developers and programmers purposely sabotaging the product to spite the community or managers they feel are hostile to them?" 

 

I believe you are into something. Many developers is not getting a good threatment from the company- so why not :)

Mon May 24 2010 5:46AM Report
merv808 writes:

I have worked in the service industry for years, and the fact is , the customer is almost never right. In most cases the complaining customer is greedy and trying to get the most (more than they should) out of thier money.

MMO consumers are the worst i've seen. They are the equivalent of someone walking into a mexican resturaunt and getting pissed because they can't have a burger. Instead of leaving and going to a burger place, they rant and rave until someone there makes them a burger.

Then when they do, they complain that the burger sucks... I wonder why...

Mon May 24 2010 9:56AM Report
SteamRanger writes:

Jon, there is an old saying: "The customer may not always be right, but they are still the customer."

Please try to remain objective about this. Game companies have become increasingly bad at dealing with customers. If a waitress talked to a patron the same way some developers and community managers on game forums do, they'd be sacked in a heartbeat, Customer Service is a skill and, unfortunately, most company reps on game forums are sadly lacking in it.

Mon May 24 2010 11:17AM Report
DavidLemke writes:
Awful blog. Another low for this site.
 
 The title of this blog alone, without ever reading any of the content, tells you the blog is going to be bad. Devs make games, gamers buy them. Gamers are the customers. Starting off a blog by telling customers they aren’t always right, sets a confrontational and condescending tone from the start.
Mon May 24 2010 12:05PM Report
DavidLemke writes:
Relevant criticism of the author(s): You brought up your personal stuff, not me. Buddy, according to your text, you jumped from job to job to job. You obviously feel underpaid and underappreciated, and you’re pretty frustrated that you ended up dealing with lots of internet post-happy nerds who vent on the forums. Boohoo. I don’t care. Not my concern. Your job is to write something interesting so I come here to read. While I read, I see advertisements, the fees for which pay your salary. Yet another job you’re doing poorly, because I don’t come here to read your complaining. I’m a visitor to the site, I’m a nerd, I’m supposed to ramble on or rant or muse or whatever. You’re staff, you’re paid, you have a job to do, you don’t get the luxury of whining, at least not under the title of staff.
Mon May 24 2010 12:08PM Report
DavidLemke writes:
Captain obvious says: Of course, customers aren’t always right, nobody would maintain they are. When a word like “always” is used, what it really means is “most of the time” or, “use this as a guideline.” Customers sometimes have ridiculous demands. Even the well meaning, well mannered customers often have no clue what goes on behind the production of a product or delivery of a service. They don’t necessarily know what’s possible and what’s not, what’s reasonable and what’s not. Some people are jerks and treat others badly, that includes customers. Duh. Your site staff didn’t do a lot of complicated rocket science math to come up with, “sometimes the customer is wrong”. Tell us something we don’t know.
Mon May 24 2010 12:10PM Report
DavidLemke writes:
Does the customer count in this day and age of big business: YES. You don’t need to organize a mass boycott, and you don’t have to work for your political party to make a difference. Sure, the more you put into organizing mass action, the more influence you will have, BUT, nevertheless, individuals working independently, blind to each others’ efforts, can in sum, whether by voting or by complaining or by praising, have an impact in business and politics. DO go out and vote in elections, and DO voice your opinion, even if in a rude way (of course I wish you wouldn’t be a jerk about it, but if you’re that angry, go ahead).
 
In cases where products and services are delivered by companies with a monopoly or near monopoly, customers are out of luck, but in other areas of business, YES, the customers is ALMOST always right. Neither the site staff here, nor the developers out there should ever forget it.
 
Mon May 24 2010 12:12PM Report
DavidLemke writes:
You quote this customer point of view as wrong, when it’s not wrong, it’s GOOD, “If I want to call the devs out on being lazy, unprofessional, greedy people, I have every right to do so, because I’m the one who pays their salary. The customer is always right.”
 
Often times devs ARE lazy, unprofessional, greedy people.
 
How many mmorpgs have been released unfinished in the last five years? Are you kidding me? Of course customers are going to be pissed off. Devs regularly promise the world and then deliver a product that looks like it’s half finished, not even ready for beta testing.
Mon May 24 2010 12:13PM Report
DavidLemke writes:
 
If you’re not sure you can deliver something, don’t promise that thing. Simple as that. Manage expectations. A customer does not need to know how a game is made. He or she can remain completely ignorant of all that. All he or she needs to know is…. This company promised X,Y,Z, publicly, to us, and they failed to deliver X,Y,Z.  They charged us the fee, but did not deliver the product or service. The reverse, just as bad, would be a customer taking a product or service, but then failing to pay for it. Both are forms of theft.
 
It goes beyond failed promises. Industry standards also dictate what’s acceptable and what’s not. If you see several other companies do provide P,D,Q in their games as standard, but then some other company is too lazy or greedy to put the resources to do P,D,Q, then the customer should complain.
Mon May 24 2010 12:17PM Report
DavidLemke writes:
Some gaming companies and their upper management deserve to be criticized, and although I don’t really want to hear vulgar language poisoning a forum, some of companies deserve the worst abuse language can dish out. It’s just words after all. Some gaming companies do far worse than use naughty words, they basically rob players, steal, by promising, in the advertisements and dev blogs and interviews, one thing, but then delivered a steaming pile of poo intead.
Mon May 24 2010 12:19PM Report
DavidLemke writes:
 
Don’t give me any of that nonsense about the poor little dev who works really hard and is a victim of the machine like everyone else.
 
The poor little devs who put their heart and soul into the game, but get no credit for it, they go unnamed, unknown, invisible, and I feel for them, appreciate them, wish them well. Put them up for gaming sainthood, I’ll support them. Those devs don’t get complaints, those devs are by definition invisible.
Mon May 24 2010 12:25PM Report
DavidLemke writes:
 
If you, as a dev, are going to be a front man, by giving interviews and doing blogs, you represent your company. You are a company man. You can’t claim credit for everything that goes great, but then blame the company men in the shadows, or the publisher, for everything that goes wrong.
 
If, as a dev, you know your company is doing good work, then be public, support your company and discuss your game, and take the praise and blame appropriate for that product. If your company is releasing an inferior game with countless flaws and omissions, then don’t be public, don’t put your name out there, don’t put a smile on an ugly monster, get a different job. Once you step out into the limelight, which is a job in itself, being a public figure for a company, then you deserve, you should expect, as is wholly appropriate, customer feedback directed at you, be it praise or condemnation.
Mon May 24 2010 12:30PM Report
DavidLemke writes:
If a company delivers a quality product or service, adheres to industry standard minimums of what customers expect, if a company manages customer expectations so that the customer understands what he or she is getting, appreciates what he or she is getting, and can accept the fee for said product or service, then things usually work themselves out.
 
The staff who wrote this blog for MMORPG.com are lame to write a piece on customers being rude, while so many companies the last several years have done so much misleading advertising, misleading blogging, misleading interviews, and released poo.
Mon May 24 2010 12:32PM Report
DavidLemke writes:

Ya, I'm looking at, among others, you Bill Roper.

Mon May 24 2010 12:34PM Report
desiriel writes:

Worst Blog ever. Generally I don't answer but this is a cry to heavens. It's years we're delivered half-finished, crappy MMOs with outright lies (even bordering on frauds) from companies and their marketing wizs and we should also be told that we're not even right when we just tell them that ?

Jeez, Stradden. I know that companies pay for something here but this article is out of any decency. Sorry to write this because generally I enjoy your articles and reviews.

Players shouldn't use threats and abuse toward devs just like that shouldn't happen anywhere in all aspects of our society but, regrettably, that's not always the case. So what's the sense of this blog article ?

Tell your dev friends to start delivering at least half of the features they generally boast about in their "next-gen" mmo and out of the "pay-now-play-decently-in-the-next-year" syndrome and then lots of us could even think of some compassion for the poor mistreated dev in his bunk.

Mon May 24 2010 1:27PM Report
shenfrey writes:

Would it be constructive criticism in saying that having this comment box at the bottom of all the comments is a hassle and having it at the top would make me wanna reply back to blogs like these more?

Just a suggestion. 

Mon May 24 2010 4:55PM Report
Spamalot345 writes:

Customer A says that my new breakfast cereal is too sweet.

Customer B says that my new breakfast cereal needs more sugar.

From my perspective (the perspective of the one making the breakfast cereal) the saying "The customer is always right." CANNOT be true. I can either believe Customer A and make my cereal less sweet, believe Customer B and make it more sweet, or believe neither and not fiddle with the sweetness.

From the perspective of the customer, who is just honestly stating a truthful opinion they ARE indeed right.

The important thing to realize is who's perspective are we looking at this from. Arguing about the validity of such a phrase when both perspectives are conflated is a waste of time.

Can developers benefit from listening to the feedback of their customers. YES. But due to the incredible "noise" level created on posting boards there should be some kind of in-game filter mechanism for feedback. Boards should never be replied to or looked to for constructive comment.

Are developers required to listen to abuse heaped on them by a customer regarding a video game? NO. Anyone who can't keep their cool and remain civil when talking about a video game doesn't deserve the time of day.

Tue May 25 2010 11:01AM Report

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