How to keep your users happy

01 Mar

As a sort-of follow-up to the negative example how not to keep your users happy, I’d like to provide what I feel is a positive example of how to keep your users happy.

Before I delve into today’s example, if you haven’t read Joel Spelosky’s seven steps to remarkable customer service I command that you do so now. I command it! Back? Ok, good, now you should understand why good customer service is so very important.

Today, Friday night I received an alert that a customer had a problem adding funds to their account through PayPal. It’s worth noting that I did not receive a complaint from the user. Users generally do not complain about problems with a web site; they just leave. I set up the PayPal system so that all developers would receive an email when there is an error, so that someone, anyone, whoever is in the office, will know to look into it or at least call someone who can, as soon as possible. If a user wants to give us money, gosh darn it, they’d better be able to. So when I received this alert, I ran a test charge through PayPal and was able to add funds to my own account. I looked up the error message and found no meaningful explanation for the cause. Other developers had posed on the paypal forums about this error message with no resolution to their problems.

At this point I had two problems: I needed more information to make sure the problem was resolved on our end so this doesn’t happen to other users, and I needed to make sure that we were not losing a customer as a result of this error, so I looked up his information and emailed him. I apologized for the problems he was having, admitted up front that I had never seen such an error before and asked if he could give me any additional information about what might have caused the problem. He wrote back promptly and explained that he had forgotten his paypal password and had made a couple of failed login attempts before requesting a password reset from PayPal. He finally got that straightened out and authorized the payment through PayPal when we got the error. I thanked him for the explanation, promised that we would be in contact with PayPal to resolve the issue and make sure that it doesn’t happen again, and added $10 (the amount he originally tried to PayPal) to his Grooveshark account. I suggested that if he wanted to help further diagnose the problem, he could try adding funds via PayPal again, now that he knows his password. He did so, and it worked like a charm.

Now instead of a disgruntled user who couldn’t buy songs from us and probably wouldn’t have bothered trying again, we have a happy customer with $20 to spend at Grooveshark, we received the same revenue that we would have if the original payment had gone through, and we got the information we needed to work with PayPal to get this issue resolved (hopefully). Everybody wins. Now yes we will have to pay royalties on all $20 of the dollars that he spends on music, plus the portion that goes to other users who he is downloading the music from, but compared to the cost of getting new customers, that’s actually a very good deal for us.


Leave a Reply


  1. Chanel’s Blog » Blog Archive » Customer Service

    March 16, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    […] for music. After explaining the situation and giving him a $5 dollar gift code (tactic I got from Jay). Now that user has been listening, rating and buying songs. It’s a really big turnaround […]

  2. matt way

    July 3, 2008 at 6:58 am

    Hey Jay! It’s matt, I’ve just been reading back in your blog and found this post. I’m the one who you are talking about in the post! :)

    I was pleasantly surprised to receive that email actually. It’s not often a user gets help that quickly! I really appreciated it. I have since become a very happy member of the Grooveshark community. I love the site, the community and the music. I’ve recommended Grooveshark to all my friends who have since all become happy members of the community too.

    By helping me, you have probably gained 10-20 customers. Goes to show how important keeping users happy really is!