Are you waiting on a response from Pinterest? Don’t feel too bad if you haven’t heard back. Pinterest has managed to scale their site with rapid user growth, but scaling customer support has not been as easy.
Pinterest has been inaccessible in a way that few businesses can be. It is not just that you, one dedicated user, can’t get a response. Some of the biggest brands in the world want to get some personal attention from Pinterest, and they aren’t getting it.
In order to deal with this lack of communication, Pinterest is now offering a support section, powered by Zendesk, to address user issues. Yesterday, Lauren Orsini of Daily Dot was the first to cover the specifics of Pinterest’s new support option. While Zendesk offers a number of options for aggregating and addressing frequently asked questions, the core of the product comes from increasing the efficiency of actual people processing issues. Given the small staff Pinterest has (last reported at under 20), it is difficult to imaging that a ticketing system will resolve the lack of communication, but it is a first step. It is possible that the ticket system will largely be used to populate the FAQ section of the support pages. If that is the case, Pinterest should likely provide some type of disclosure of this. If individuals aren’t going to get responses from tickets, those users who have already spent hours typing multiple emails to Pinterest are unlikely to want to repeat this frustration with the Zendesk ticket system. Facebook has dealt with user support and moderations issue by using third party contractors hired through 0Desk. It is possible Pinterest is deploying something similar.
Lauren from the Daily Dot provided a good overview of the new system:
Now, pinners can use the support center to discover “Instant Answers.” The FAQ is divided into two sections: one for the “basics,” another for “sites, brands & businesses.”
That separation is itself a revealing step in Pinterest’s evolution—an acknowledgement, however quiet, that businesses large and small, not just individuals, are active on the site.
Despite Pinterest quietly launching the support page, Lauren’s article indicates the number of tickets already sent to the system could be as high as 11,000, but is at least 4,000.
Our tipper, Hutchison, opened ticket #7308 on Friday, and hasn’t heard back.
When the Daily Dot used the ticketing system to ask for a comment, our ticket was #11065. If Pinterest is labeling tickets numerically, that means Pinterest’s small staff is fielding more than a thousand requests a day—and that was over a weekend.
Zendesk integrates with social media, but has Pinterest gotten too big to use these channels?
A centralized place to discuss and post Pinterest information is likely the best step for a company that has as many users as Pinterest. But I wanted to briefly look at how Pinterest has used their social media accounts up to this point. The bottom line is that you likely shouldn’t waste your time trying to communicate with Pinterest via social media.
Pinterest hosts their blog on Tumblr. I went back through the comments since October, and there wasn’t a single response from someone at Pinterest despite hundreds of questions being asked. I finally found an actual response from Pinterest in September. As you can see from their Discuss profile (the software that they use for blog comments), they haven’t post a response in six months.
The last @message response from Pinterest’s Twitter account was in December of last year. Since then messages to Pinterest’s Twitter account didn’t get any responses. In the first three months of this year, Pinterest has only made seven tweets total.
If you look at the Pinterest’s timeline, you will see frequent @messages addressing user questions all the way up to the summer of 2010. After that point, it seems Twitter was no longer a way to contact Pinterest with issues.
Twitter is often thought as a backdoor way to get more traditional companies to finally respond to questions and issues. In Pinterest’s case, it doesn’t work.
Despite their one million plus fans on Facebook, Pinterest rarely uses this venue to even update users on changes to the site. Pinterest has only provide two updates on their wall (granted both are in 2012), and despite 500+ comments with each update, no one at Pinterest followed up on any questions or issues.
Pinterest making user issues a priority.
I called Pinterest to get a comment on their overall approach to communicating with users and their new use of Zendesk, but given the topic we are discussing, it wasn’t surprising to find their voice mail box was full. Pinterest has done an amazing job with their product. They focused on what was, and is important: creating a great user experience. While it would be great if they took calls from reporters and writers, we really don’t matter as much as users. The vast majority of users never have any issues with the service and don’t even realize that Pinterest is unresponsive to questions. Only when user have a serious issue do they realize that they really have no options to resolve it. Hopefully Pinterest’s use of Zendesk will provide some remedy to the previous lack of communication options.