Disclaimer: The title of this post could easily have been one of a hundred different choices – “How to push developers away from your API”, “Why Microsoft are still living in the 1990s”, “Customer Support 101″ or even “Bring Back Steve Ballmer’s Developers, Developers, Developers”
A while ago, I added code to the WP e-Commerce project so that it could provide Google Merchant Centre feeds (It’s the thing that powers Google’s “shopping results”). It’s been my experience over the last few years that having an effective feed is a good source of traffic, and an avenue that’s often neglected by other e-Commerce providers – so can be a “quick win” SEO tactic.
The fact that Bing now offer something similar recently came to my attention, and it would make sense to expand WP e-Commerce’s support to include Bing Shopping feeds as well as Google Merchant Centre. So, I skim-read the integration guide to see the size of the task at hand, everything looks good (Apart from their choice of format by the way which is, erm, a bit shocking to say the least – but hey – it does the job I guess).
I signed up for an Microsoft AdCentre account (Which requires you to hand over your credit card details, despite the fact the service is free – erm….). Now, the service currently is for US stores only, and I’m in the UK. But hey, WP e-Commerce is a global product, and I know a large portion of those users are in the US – so no problem there.
So – I followed the instructions in the Integration Guide which told me to click “Bing Shopping Account Management” in my Adcentre account, but I don’t have that link. No worries – I’m sure I saw mention of a Merchant Help Forum in the integration guide – so off I headed.
At this point my suspicion was that the problem was my geography (I did contemplate lying on the registration form and entering “US” – but I played it straight and entered “UK”). So I posted the following enquiry:
I’m looking to add support for Bing Shopping feeds to a WordPress ecommerce platform. Unfortunately while many of the users are US-based, I’m not. I’ve signed up for an adcentre account – but I don’t see Bing Shopping under “Tools” – is this because I registered with a UK address? If so – how can I get access so I can test the integration?
Thanks in advance
Short, and to the point. No official reply from Microsoft, but that’s not really surprising, but there was a helpful reply from one of the regulars letting me know that it wasn’t an issue that had cropped up before, and helpfully pointing me at a contact page for “Questions about Bing Shopping” – sounds perfect.
So – I fired off the exact same question, and 22 hours later (I don’t consider that a bad turnaround time for something like this) the following arrived as a reply from the “Bing Shopping” support team:
Thank you for contacting Microsoft Customer Service.
Based on your message, you would like to suggest to add support for Bing shopping feeds. Let me see what I can do for you today.
As a Customer Service Representative, I am here to assist you in finding the right place to get help with your questions and provide resources to resolve your concern.
Lee, for this kind of concern what may I suggest is to contact Bing Support Professional for better assistance regarding on your concern. You may contact them through this link: https://support.discoverbing.com/eform.aspx?productKey=bing&ct=eformts&scrx=1&st=1&wfxredirect=1
I hope the above information is helpful, and please contact us if you have any additional customer service questions.
Hm, not great. They clearly don’t understand my question, and I now have to contact a second (More generic) support team with my question.
I’m now being made to chase around different departments because Microsoft (You know, that big multi-billion dollar company) apparently can’t pass a customer support issue between teams themselves.
Also – it’s evident that the support team don’t have the right skills / knowledge / experience to answer the question. If you’re a company offering APIs to developers they need a different level of support than your end-users. You need to make sure that your support staff are sufficiently skilled and experienced for the audience they’re supporting – or that they know that it’s OK to escalate an issue if required, and the right place to send it to – not that it’s more important to close the call than actually answer the question.
The response included an invitation for feedback on how my issue had been handled. Obviously I was disappointed, and so I replied to this request for feedback, hoping that someone would take my issue on and find me the right answer:
I’d just like to register my disappointment with responses I’ve received.
I’m a UK-based WordPress developer, trying to provide an integration between one of WordPress’s leading e-Commerce system WP e-Commerce, and Bing Shopping.
I’ve read the integration guide, and am happy I can modify the software to produce a feed. I’ve signed up for a Microsoft adcentre account, but it appears I’m unable to submit feeds (Even test ones) as I’m not in the US.
I raised this as a question on the forum http://community.microsoftadvertising.com/forums/p/68015/95480.aspx and one of the forum visitors helpfully pointed me to the “Contact Us: Questions about Bing shopping” contact page which seemed to be a sensible place to get in touch (See case number quoted above).
The result was a completely unhelpful response directing me to a generic Bing contact page – to which I’ve forwarded my enquiry – but if the dedicated “Bing Shopping” contact page couldn’t get an answer to my query – I’ll be very surprised if this does.
- I’m disappointed that you seem to have no interest in supporting developers looking to drive customers to your products, based purely on their geography
- even more disappointed in the lack of support received when I raised this with what seems like the appropriate group
- mortified that I have to chase round re-submitting my request to various different groups
I’ll confess it’s a bit grumpy, but I think you’ll find the answer fascinating (Emphasis mine):
Thank you for contacting Microsoft North America Customer Service.
From the information you have provided in your message, I understand that you are located in United Kingdom and looking for obtaining the Windows Defender download. The Customer Service team you have reached is for North America. There are significant differences between North American versions of Microsoft products and those localized for your country.
You will be best assisted by the Microsoft subsidiary that specializes in your version of Windows Defender. You can reach them at (+44) 0844 800 2400 or by visiting: http://www.microsoft.com/worldwide/phone/contact.aspx?country=United%20Kingdom
Wish you a very Happy and Prosperous New Year.
So, this was supposed to be “feedback” about the level of support I received. My disappointment, and areas of complaint weren’t even acknowledged (Never mind actually addressed), and I got pointed to a Windows Defender download (If anyone can explain how that could ever possibly have been the right answer to my question I’ll buy them a beer!)
But what about the request I forwarded to the generic Bing Support team? Maybe they came back with a helpful answer? …
My name is XXXXXX. Your e-mail was escalated to me and I would like to assist you with your concern on adding support for Bing Shopping feeds to a WordPress ecommerce platform. I understand the importance of your concern.
For issues and concerns on Bing Shopping UK, please contact Ciao help team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We appreciate your continued support as we strive to provide you with the highest quality service available. Thank you for using Bing.
Bing Technical Support
I’d already explained in my contact that I wanted to post information for US stores, and the forum thread I linked through covered ciao.co.uk and why that wasn’t the right area to look at.
Suffice to say I won’t be integrating with Bing Shopping anytime soon and I pity anyone who has to deal with Bing Support …