Support Breakfast Podcast | Episode 21 – Don’t Feed the Troll

Here we are with Episode 21! This week we’re talking about situations in which we may have failed our customers. We discuss how to approach those conversations, especially when they’re in the public domain, and how not to feed the trolls. You can listen below or on your favourite podcatcher, where you can search “Support Breakfast” or follow one of these clickable links:  Soundcloud, iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn, Google Play Music.

If you enjoy the episode, please do hit that subscribe button to keep us in your life. Already subscribed? Thanks – you’re the greatest! If you feel like leaving us a review in any of the platforms above, that would make us so happy. Remember: give us a five star rating, and tell us your favourite breakfast food.

Before we started… dresses with pockets are the bomb, right? And Lisa’s pocketed dress has maths on it! Peak.

So, what did we have for breakfast?

  • Lisa had cinnamon porridge and coffee
  • Conor had cinnamon porridge with cranberries and banana and also coffee
  • Kiwi Sarah had unfulfilled dreams and empty promises (she’s intermittent fasting)
  • Dave is unable to join this week

This weeks Customer Support stories

Conor has raised his gif game in his interactions with Christian from Wistia this week 🙂

Kiwi Sarah has lots of love for Wistia from when they made a personal video for her.

In the mail bag!

  • Conor’s tennis partner Pidge, was excited to hear he was mentioned in last week’s episode (which you definitely shouldn’t listen to)
  • We received a tweet about Death Star Customer Support from @mrpatto
  • A topic suggestion about managing support in the midst of a PR disaster, thanks Lindsay!

On to the topic of the week…

The potential for human error is always there, things do go wrong, and sh*t happens. How do you start making things right? Here are some highlights from our conversation if you don’t get a chance to listen!

Conor says own it! Be honest when you apologise. Look at the tone you’re using; avoid stiff and formal language without being flippant, and be more detailed than you typically might be. Conor is typically lighthearted in communicating with customers, when dealing with an issue.

Lisa recently had an issue with indexes which are delayed and inaccurate. Customers are quite vocal when this happens, and as a result Lisa had to respond to an angry customer on their public forum. You can see that conversation on the Moz Q&A Forum. Carefully crafting the response to address the issues helped smooth things over. Focus on giving reasons, and avoid sharing anything that could be interpreted as ‘making excuses’.

Kiwi Sarah: Sometimes profuse apologies can exaggerate the impact, and getting down to the nitty gritty and the fix can be the best way forward. When something goes wrong, it’s really important that everyone in the company knows what’s actually going on.

Conor: These situations can be emotional and stressful for you as an employee, but we need to focus on the customers needs, and make sure our own emotion isn’t getting in the way of helping the customer.

Lisa: Some customers can get frustrated and express that with offensive language – sometimes it helps de-escalate things by reminding customers that you’re a human! That can definitely help redirect the conversation to a more constructive outcome.

Having public support forums means we need to also consider the additional challenge of moderating behaviour and language that is unacceptable to your community as well as your staff. It’s really helpful to have published guidelines to refer to when things cross the line!

On being aligned with customers:

You need to have empathy, but you don’t want to live in empathy and carry everyone’s emotions all the time. That’s a great way to burn out

Most people who work in support are high-empathy creatures, the very opposite of trolls! It’s very easy to take on all those emotions and that doesn’t lead to a well balanced experience for you or your customers.

Some great resources to check out on this topic

HelpScout: How to break up with an abusive customer

Intercom: Cutting the cord on inappropriate customer conversation

Giovanna spoke at SUPCONF Seattle about the need for boundaries and you can see her slides and some useful resources here.


As always, you can get in touch with us on, find us on the internet at or tweet at us @supportbrekkie.

You can leave us a review on iTunes, preferably with 5 stars (include your favourite breakfast food!).

As ever, our intro (and outro!) music is the brilliant Drops of H2O (The Filtered Water Treatment) by J.Lang (c) copyright 2012 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. Ft: Airtone. It is not Drops of Jupiter by Train, but if you like that song, you can listen to it here. Nor is it by J.D. Lang.

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