Kids are Customers Too

I’ve spent the past week dealing with our subscription queries sent to our Membership CS (Customer Service – interlude: don’t you hate it when people use acronyms and never explain them? Especially when they make them up. Argh!). It’s been a year or more since I’ve spent this much time on payment issues (subscription, membership, a rose by any other name…). We’re facing the issues I’ve seen at companies for the past 15 years. Nothing new to report in this blog, sorry to say. We’re seeing all the usual problems such as over charging in a handful of cases and the net dropping out in the middle of a purchase or weird glitchy things that 10 people have seen but 60,000 have not seen. Needles in haystacks, one offs, etc. They fascinate me because I’m have a ‘problem solver/troubleshooter’ personality, but the time spent doesn’t really pay off in the big picture so they end up on the shelf with the other jigsaw puzzles of the net.

The lighter side of the complaints, short tempers and general negative issues we receive include kids trying everything in the book to get free memberships. In some cases, I’m certain the kids got their hands on their parent or guardian’s credit card info (how many times have we seen this in the past 15 years? Between AOL and Habbo, I’d say over 1 million times). I’ll address the down side of kids and credit card access first and end with the fun quips and quotes.

When you work with young people, they are your customers. Regardless of who pays the bills, they are using your product/site and deserve the same respect and attention you’d give to adults. It’s not unusual for adults to treat young people with less patience, respect and understanding than they would their “major” counterparts. I’ve seen it for years and occasionally catch myself guilty of the same.

There’s a propensity to think “they can’t pay bills, they can’t spell as well as we can, they’re just kids – they don’t understand.” It’s hellish to be a kid and have people treat you like you have no brains or abilities. But that’s just what we do, every day, in schools, public places, businesses, online.

I suppose it can be a challenge to take someone seriously when they communicate the following:

“You stole my muny! make my monster a mimbr or i am gown to sui you. i ma docter and make a lotta muney. i mean it. DO IT NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

My response to this is generally a line or two about how there’s no need to threaten us, we are a legitimate business and are not trying to steal anyone’s money. We wouldn’t stay in business long if we did that, etc. So, admittedly I get somewhat parental but I would do that regardless of the subject. Yelling at people is not acceptable, ever, under any circumstances, in my world. Online or offline.

Young people respond to respectful correction of their lapses in etiquette. That’s always been my experience offline and online, anyway. It’s very rare to see a continued !!!!! attitude if you respond calmly but firmly to threats. This holds true for adults too, by the way.

The worst case I can ever remember was at Habbo. The case had been escalated to me from a Country Manager in the UK. Everyone in the office had tried to reason with this man, to no avail. I gave it my best shot and in 25 years of working with screaming people on phones or in person, I’d never encountered this situation. He spent the entire time talking with no breaks and his wife was in the background yelling, non-stop, everything that he was saying to me. I couldn’t get a word in at all (and that’s not something that happens to me, mind you). I finally spoke over him and said “I’m trying to talk with you but you will not stop talking so I’m going to hang up now because this is wasting your time. If I can help you, please email me at ….” and I hung up the phone. We never heard anymore from him on this matter but honestly, all I could think was “that poor child. How in the …. can he live with parents like that?” And it explained his behavior on Habbo in a LARGE way. I never got stern with him again. He surely got enough of that at home :x

Anyway, back to my point. Just about all of us prefer calm over chaos any day of the week. And smiling from the wrists down, as we always said at AOL, is the only way to transform chaos to calm. People generally want to cooperate and work together. They want a solution and only want to know that someone is listening and will take action. Kids are people. It wouldn’t hurt to put that on a bulletin board, on a post-it, or somewhere on our PCs. Kids are people. They are just like you and me, only younger. They think, they process, they interact, they are expanding all the time, growing and maturing with our help – and they want to be noticed and treated equally, as they should.

So, as promised, here are some of the fun requests we’ve received to date:

“Please can i have a free member ship passport please, because im very poor and i dont go to school and im always on Moshi Monster and that is how i learn :)”

“MissPinky, thanks for being my friend. I NEED a free 1 yr membership BAD!!!!! Hurry!!! thanks.”

“I think I should geta membership becuz some1 was kinda mean to me and anyway, I am havin a rilly bad day so thank u for listning.”

“Yur jus steeling frum kids and you shud let us be free.” (free range children anyone?)

“I tryed and tryed to buy a passport but it won’t let me. Please fix it and give me one free month for the problem.”

“HELP ME PLEASE!!!! I NEED A PASSPORT SO BAD. I WILL GIVE YOU MY MOSHI ROX AND BE YOUR BFF OKAY?”

“Hello Moshi. My son is not suksexful but he tried and shuld defanitly have a membership. Please help him get to the port and give him a free try and then we will pay you l8ter. xxxx’s parent.”

“I dunt know what you r saying and anyway i just need a membership please. I am waiting for you now. Write back kk?”

The list is pretty long and I give them all As for the tenacity and creativity to get what they want. If you haven’t visited our Blog page, you should. The artwork the kids send in is amazing. It’s good to know kids still use crayons, pencils and paper :) And now that I think of it, that means they’re someone else’s customers as well – the art store, the whatever store, where they buy the supplies. Here’s hoping they’re treated with the same respect as their parents, everywhere they go (money spent or not).

About Rebecca Newton

Online Community and Safety professional, musician, I love dogs and kids...and most adults.

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