By far the largest set of support requests that we end up seeing for Thunderbird have to do with being unable to receive or send mail. By far the largest single cause of these failures is some unilateral change by the ISP which cause previously working configurations to stop working. In other words, people come to us for help solving problems we can’t solve. It makes us feel bad, it makes you look uncaring, and it certainly doesn’t help your customers (except for those cases when we go beyond the call of duty and help them as neighbors would, guiding them through the diagnostic & fix).
In our next revisions of Thunderbird, we’ll probably work on making our error dialogs better, so that we transmit whatever wisdom we can to your users to give them a fighting chance. But we can do better for your customers, if you get involved.
Let’s figure out how to work together to provide better experiences for your customers and our users. I’m quite sure that we can come up with solutions which would save you costs compared to having your customers tie up your tech support lines only to be rebuffed by your staff who often don’t understand how email systems work. It might also help you avoid commoditization…
Here are some ideas to start the conversation going:
- Let’s make sure that our configuration of ISP databases works for as many users as possible. We’ll likely need to evolve the format and protocol over time, but we can only do that with input (some ESPs have already joined the effort, which is great!).
- Consider making a useful add-on that would let you inform your customers of planned service downtime, configuration changes, etc. (no marketing messages, please, or your customers will not use it).
- If there are changes we could make in Thunderbird that would help you help your customers, let’s talk!.
Together, we can figure out how to get your customers setup with a Thunderbird that works for them, for us, and for you.
Looking forward to a productive conversation,
— David Ascher
(dascher at mozillamessaging)