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2 Feb 2011 / Julie

AOL only loves money. (a lesson in being available)

How do i know?  Because when i tried to contact them about recovering a password for an AIM account which is attached to a long-since-closed email address (yes, my fault for not keeping up with that) i got this:

this is a screenshot of the AOL contact page

that is to say, i got that AFTER i signed in with another account that i remembered the password for. if you clicked on “Contact AOL” a few screens prior, it makes you log in. Thanks, dudes. That’s what i can’t do and why i want to contact you in the first place.

You can click “Meet the Help Team” and see all their pretty little faces. but you can’t email any of them. You can search the help articles and “community support” but still, no contact information.

So here i am – logged in and still unable to get help or contact anyone. Unless i pay. They’re very quick to offer the “upgrade your account now” link. did i mention their FAQs and community support pages are of no assistance either. (and we know we can’t blame my inability to put together a coherent search string.)

Pro Tip: If you’re not going to support free accounts, don’t have free accounts.

So while i try to find someone to talk to at AOL to help me get into a very old account (please share if you know how to do that or contact them), i leave you with these questions to ponder for your business:

  • How easy is it for someone to contact you when they need help?
  • How easy is it for someone to help themselves by using an FAQ, help articles, or a community supported support area?
  • What messages are you sending in how you present your information or lock down your services?
  • What barriers or annoyances are there for customers who need to do certain things? Do you make them log in to site A only to have to log in again to do Thing B on Site A?

Don’t be AOL. Love all your customers equally. And for duck’s sake (yes, duck), make sure people can talk to a human if they want to.

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