Beware Of The Leopard

Ysharros over at Stylish Corpse, in her monthly wrapup, has just posted about her less than satisfactory experience with Funcom.

It turns out that the geniuses (geniii?) in the Funcom Sales and Marketing Department now require a new digital subscriber of Age of Conan to provide a mobile phone number in order to receive a SMS with an activation code. There’s some sort of drivel, err excuse about security and offering a better game experience. (Why an eMail wouldn’t suffice is beyond me.) Bad luck if you are not the proud owner of this type of communication technology I guess. Ysh, rightly feels put out in having to do this, and I don’t blame her.

As you know, this year I’ve entered the wonderful (-ly stressful and time consuming) world of business ownership. In the process I’ve learned a bunch of stuff about business. Possibly the  number one rule of business is this…

Are you ready?

MAKE IT AS EASY AS POSSIBLE FOR YOUR CUSTOMERS TO GET YOUR PRODUCT OR SERVICE!

Doesn’t that sound like commonsense? I mean really, how many brick and mortar stores do you see requiring customers to run an obstacle course just to get to the front door? Well, surviving brick and mortar stores anyway.

Putting barriers in the way stops people from buying your stuff. Even having a storefront in a shopping mall obscured can lower revenue by as much as 40%.

And from what I understand, the online world is even tougher. At least the customer arriving at a store is physically present and may make the extra effort if it’s hard to get to. The online customer is a click away from leaving your site, perhaps forever, and going to a competitor. There’s a huge phenomenom called shopping cart abandonment where someone has gone to all the effort of finding and selecting products and just abandons it all at the final step just because of some simple impediment. How often do you see that at your local supermarket?

Even the recent deletion of lower level Age of Conan characters from unsubscribed accounts is frankly astounding. I know the reason was to force players to resubscribe. But really, didn’t anyone think that after the purge there may be thousands of former players now with ABSOLUTELY NO REASON to resubscribe to Age of Conan. It seems unprecedented to me. I haven’t heard of any other MMO dev doing this. Have you?

So yeah. Funcom seem to have really dropped the ball with all this lately.

Oh, and I almost forgot, here is a transcript from an actual customer service call that I managed to wangle from a Funcom whistleblower before he put it up on Wikileaks. It’s rather revealing…

Funcom: “But Mr Dent, the plans have been available in the local planning office for the last nine months.”

Customer: “Oh yes, well as soon as I heard I went straight round to see them, yesterday afternoon. You hadn’t exactly gone out of your way to call attention to them, had you? I mean, like actually telling anybody or anything.”

Funcom: “But the plans were on display …”

Customer: “On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”

Funcom: “That’s the display department.”

Customer:“With a flashlight.”

Funcom: “Ah, well the lights had probably gone.”

Customer: “So had the stairs.”

Funcom: “But look, you found the notice didn’t you?”

Customer: “Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’.”

Hmmm…

With thanks to Douglas Adams.