CRM Crime Files: Etsy


If you are subscribed to my Twitter feed (@leontribe) you will have seen a bit of dialogue with @EtsyHelp over the last week. While a little off-topic from my usual Tweets, it is related to CRM and Customer Experience as it is a great example of how NOT to set up your customer service function.


My Etsy Shop

About a month ago I set up an Etsy shop ( to sell pillboxes which I make by converting pocket watches. Doing this to an antique pocket watch would be a crime against nostalgia so I purchase new pocket watches and convert these instead. Embracing the way of the Etsy, I also let the buyer choose the color of the felt which lines the inside of the pill box (40 colors to choose from).


The fronts have fun designs and there are literally hundreds of designs I can source.


Things were going well with sales in the USA and here in Australia.

Nico Closes Down My Shop

Imagine my surprise when I received an email on Tuesday morning from Nico from Etsy Integrity telling me my shop had been closed.


This was the first email I had received regarding the matter. From a customer relationship perspective it is not great. I am not addressed by name, the specific issue which had my shop closed is not mentioned and the end of the email is basically a threat.

There was no mention of a process for appeal and, given I considered my shop as a poster child for Etsy, I replied to Nico explaining how I upcycle pocket watches and convert them to pill boxes.


This was sent Tuesday morning and I thought the matter would be settled relatively quickly. Unfortunately I heard nothing until 2am that night.


Nico had identified the supplier of my pocket watches and, as the outside was untouched by the conversion process, I was using the supplier’s stock photo because they looked great. For the interiors I shot my own pictures.

Again, Nico had failed to address me by name and had completely ignored my reply explaining what I actually do. The handmade policy for Etsy does allow for upcycling, which is what I do, so I was very confused. I replied to Nico with some before and after photos and provided my phone number but felt the conversation was going nowhere slowly and, given he responded once every 24 hours, I needed an alternative approach. In fact, this was the last I heard from Nico.

My theory is Nico is, in fact, not a human but an automated service to weed out commercial resellers by using a Google Image-like service to match Etsy pictures to supplier stock images. This explains the impersonal tone, template structure, and lack of engagement.

Calling Etsy

The obvious option was to call Etsy and sort it out. Googling Etsy yielded a phone number but calling it led to a recorded message saying they do not take incoming calls and to request a call online. Armed with this knowledge, I found the KB article for requesting a call ( According to the article, the process is:

1.) Sign in to your account and go to Etsy’s contact page.

2.) Choose What can we help you with? and any other topics that are relevant to your issue.

3.) Click Request a Phone Call to get to the request form. 

4.) Provide your name, phone number, and a brief description of your issue.

The problem is, the “Request a Phone Call” option/button does not exist. There is no way for request a phone call through their page. Etsy provide no way to talk to an actual person whether you are a seller or buyer.

Other Social Channels

I thought the Etsy Facebook page may be the way to go but, unfortunately I was unable to initiate a request or post to their wall. Finally I thought I would tweet @EtsyHelp to see if they could assist.


To their credit, @EtsyHelp replied within minutes.


I sent a couple of direct messages to Ann and waited. Eventually, 12 hours later, Cale replied.


Fantastic! It had been a bit slow in coming but someone would be in contact ‘soon’. I replied, thanking him and providing my home and mobile number in the hope someone would call. It was 10:30pm on a school night but I was determined to stay up so I could have an email conversation with the Specialist and put the matter to bed.

Charlie to the Rescue

At midnight I got an email from Charlie telling me precisely what I needed to do to get my shop back online. Again, Charlie failed to address me by name in the email, and the content was templated but I did not care. Charlie ended the email with:

“Once I hear back from you with this information, I’ll review it and promptly get back to you. I understand that your Etsy shop is your business, and I intend to make this process as quick and smooth as possible.

Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns about this process. I look forward to learning more about your creative business.”

In short I needed to document my creation process in words and pictures so Etsy could assess I was not simply reselling.

I leapt into action taking photos and documenting the process for converting a timepiece into a medicine cabinet. An hour and a half later (1:30am on Thursday morning) I had compiled all the information requested and sent it through.

Again, I stayed up in case Charlie needed any more information. At around 5am I gave up on Charlie replying and went to bed. I waited up the next night and still nothing. At around 5am on Friday morning (27 hours on from when I sent the email) I was coming to the conclusion Charlie was another bot like Nico.

Etsy Gets a Kick Up the Bum

Knowing the weekend was fast approaching I figured I needed to try and get things moving. So I launched a multi-channel blast. I replied to Charlie via email, Tweeted @EtsyHelp.


and I also sent the documentation via the Etsy online support form.

My thinking was if Etsy had any sort of case management system my requests would hit the system as individual cases and one of them would get picked up for processing.

Again, the responsive @EtsyHelp responded about an hour later (I received no response from Charlie and only the auto-acknowledgement from the online web form).


Armed with this knowledge I went to bed for a couple of hours and went to work knowing I would be pulling a late one again the following night.

Etsy Gets Another Kick Up the Bum

It was now very early Saturday morning. At 2am, over 48 hours later, I again blasted all channels, resending my documentation.

Again, it was Ann from @EtsyHelp who responded about an hour later.


Seeing if I should go to bed or not, I asked if I should wait up.


Et tu, @EtsyHelp? The 48 hours had already passed and I knew the call request option was a dud. With sleep deprivation kicking in, I concluded it was time to add another channel to the blast, I was not exactly sure what the difference between,, and was but I figured another ticket in the system could not hurt.

Charlie Comes Online

15 minutes later, at 4:44am on Saturday morning, Charlie got back to me. Whether it was the email to Trust, the escalations by Ann or simply that Charlie had been away the day before I will never know.


Thanks for taking the time to send me this information about your Handmade process. I was happy to learn more about how your items are made. I am approving you to sell your customized pocket watches. 

Your account privileges have been restored, and I’m updating your account internally with the information that you provided. Below, I have outlined some changes that we will require that you make to your listings. Please take the next 5 days to make these updates, failure to do so within this timeframe may result in the suspension of your account.”

Again, Charlie had failed to address me by name but he had restored my shop so, as far as I was concerned he could call me pretty much whatever he wanted to. I responded, expressing my thanks.


The changes were the use of my supplier’s stock photographs (which, I assume had triggered Nico the Wonder Bot). Charlie gave me a link to an Etsy policy which states stock photography cannot be used, a policy I was unaware of. Within 24 hours all stock photographs were removed. An hour later I received a new order for a pill box.

My shop had been down for five days but, after a lot of work,and little sleep, it was back up.

Advice to People Seeking Support From Etsy

There are a few things I have learned from this process:

  • Etsy’s heart is in the right place. Etsy take the quality of their shops seriously and really dislike commercial resellers
  • Etsy, unfortunately, is more focussed on customer service cost than on customer service excellence and the points they gain from maintaining shop quality are lost in frustrated customers seeking support
  • Etsy employ automated/semi-automated processes to remove resellers from their site so it pays to ask for help across multiple channels to ensure you are not being ignored by a robot

If you are trying to get a response out of Etsy Support, understand that everywhere except the USA is serviced out of Ireland and it is not a 24 hour call center. There was a five hour window when Support sent me emails (midnight to 5am local time) and usually it was one email per night. Outside of this pattern they were as silent as the grave.

If you want someone to reply to you, your next best option is Twitter’s @EtsyHelp. As Cale admitted, they cannot action a request but they can push it through to Support. Also, through other communication with them during this saga, they also confirmed they can see the responses Support issue regarding active cases.

There is NO phone channel for Etsy, inbound or outbound (certainly not for Australia) so forget it. @EtsyHelp will keep you sane while you wait for Support/Integrity to get back to you but you will NEVER hear the human voice of Etsy.

Finally, never get angry. There were plenty of times when Etsy messed me about but, they held all the cards. They had all the power and being rude would not give them any additional motivation to assist me. Also, many of the people we interact with in call centers are acutely aware of our frustrations but are powerless to change it.  Be respectful and if they do not escalate, take it upon yourself to escalate for them by reaching out to different channels.

As an extreme example, towards the end, I was doing internet searches for the email addresses of Etsy’s board executives (which would be pretty easy to guess) so I could email them as an escalation point. Another option would be using one’s LinkedIn network to pull in a favor. Thankfully I did not need to in the end.

Advice to Etsy

It is admirable that you are passionate about the quality of your shops but your customer service processes are woeful. Consider embracing channels customers actually want to use, rather than the ones which cost the least and provide the minimum viable support.

Telephone support would be useful and I genuinely believe a problem that took five days to resolve could have been resolved in less than 24 hours. Also, while other channels may cost less on paper, as is evidenced by this blog, when you have Ann, Nico, Charlie and Cale all working on one case, things get expensive, very quickly.

Even if telephone support is not practical, offering support which actually does something for more than five hours per day would be handy. Web chat or even eating your own dog food and embracing the conversation system set up for buyers and sellers within the Etsy platform may be useful.

Finally, stop setting poor expectations. A big part of my frustration through this process was Etsy telling me things which were simply wrong. Behavior such as being directed to the fictitious process for requesting a phone call, or being told my request would be actioned ‘soon’ and then waiting more than 48 hours cannot be justified. If there are response times which Etsy expect to meet, put in escalation systems for when these are violated. If you only provide global support for five hours in the day and only send one email per day per case, make this known and then people can sleep.


Now the saga is over I am really happy Etsy re-opened my store. Etsy make it very easy to have an online shop and the nature of my product make it an ideal fit. However, with Amazon launching ‘Handmade’, Etsy is no longer the only global handcraft sale site online.

History shows us that today’s go-to site is tomorrow’s entry. If Etsy is to maintain their dominance they need to manage the relationship they have with all stakeholders in their ecosystem and respect what they value. Having the least commercial resellers but the worst customer service does not do this. Given my shop’s success is predicated on Etsy’s success I really do not want to see this happen.


The Best Free Apps For Your Corporate iPhone


One of the perks of a new job are the new toys. In this case, my new employer has given me a Lenovo Helix and an iPhone 5s. I am familiar with Windows laptop/tablet hybrids, owning a Surface Pro, but I have never owned an iPhone before so it has been a bit of a learning curve. One of the drawcards of iPhones are the masses of free apps available, so I dived right in to work out the best ones.

This list is the distillation of a bunch of “best apps for business” articles, the relevant top 150 categories in the iStore and the apps I already have running on my Windows Phone (I used my personal phone in my last job). Here we go…

Miscellaneous Work Apps

General apps which make the little things at work a little easier


As a Windows user, PDF documents needing a signature ARE a hassle. You print them off, sign them, rescan them and then send them on. With HelloSign you import a PDf file into the app, add a signature and email it on. Too handy, and perfect when you need to turn documents around quickly.


Take photos of your receipts and it will auto-scan them for the totals and the merchant. You then collate them into ‘reports’ for your expense reporting. Too easy.

Dragon Dictation

An interesting app that automatically translates what you say into text for distribution on various channels e.g. SMS, social or email. It even works with my Australian accent.

Voice Memos

A default app which lets you record your vocal pearls of wisdom and then share them through messaging or mail channels as an m4a sound file. Great for recording those good ideas or blog topics when a pen is not in reach.


These are the apps to mostly do with traditional media e.g. books and newspapers.


Part of the default set of apps that came with the phone, this gives you some reading time when at those airport gates. Unfortunately many of the more popular titles give you one free magazine and then need you to pay to subscribe. Also, if your company has disabled iCloud on the phone, some titles will not work. One title which was free was “Whisky Magazine” which was a special edition covering American Whiskeys. Apparently I need to check out Woodinville in Washington state, a small drive out of Seattle when I go to the MVP Summit.


Similar to Newsstand, pick the topics and Flipboard will serve you articles to while away the hours in transit.


The default book app for the phone, there are free books worth a browse. In my case “Dr Karl’s Little Book of Trivia 101”


If the previous options hold no thrall, another default app is Podcasts with an excellent array of audio and video podcasts to choose from. For me, Good Game and Dr Karl on Triplej. Yes, I am quite the fan of Dr Karl.


My preferred music streaming service of choice. Give it a song and it will build you a playlist. If you are looking to relax after a tough day in the office, feed Pandora your favourite chill-out track and see what comes back.


I recently blogged about how I am a fan of my new Netflix service. When music is not soothing the savage beast, kick back with a great range of television shows and movies (for a subscription fee). Awesome for hotel rooms where the television service does not quite pass muster.


The default photo app. This is where your receipt photos from Expensify end up.


Apps for communication on various channels outside of the traditional phone and email.


If you are not on LinkedIn, you should be. Traditionally hailed as the tool of choice for lazy recruiters, I find it invaluable as a networking/sales tool. Curious about whether that old client is still with that company where you implemented CRM? Check them out on LinkedIn. Want to distribute your blog article to hundreds of professionals who might be interested? Post into a LinkedIn group.


Now owned by Microsoft, the pervasive VOIP service is ideal for making cheap calls on your phone while overseas. Just make sure it is using the local Wi-Fi service and not the carrier’s data service otherwise you may need to mortgage your home to pay for the call.


Another social channel I embrace (@leontribe for those interested), Twitter is SMS for the internet with all messages being public. Great for research on people and organisations and also a great way to consume information on practically any topic of interest.


Often maligned as a productivity killer, there are actually many of corporate and professional pages on Facebook. The Microsoft Dynamics CRM Facebook group is an excellent group rivalling the forums for the quality of responses to questions from end users.


The same messaging system that appears in Facebook is my preferred instant messaging tool on the iPhone. With this tool you get access to all of your Facebook friends without Facebook being permanently open. For all of the CRM MVPs around the world, Messenger is my tool of choice for reaching them for a quick question about Dynamics CRM.


This is the iPhone’s default messaging tool. By default it uses the iMessage system which means when you are talking to other iDevices, it does not use SMS for communication. Therefore, to keep the message channel consistent you might want to disable the iMessage option in the settings.


Another default app which I am yet to explore in detail. I understand it is a video chatting application similar to the video chatting feature of Skype. Given Skype does the job I will probably stick with that but it is there for those more used to the Apple way.


This is a group messaging system which allows you to create groups and message within that group. We use it at the MVP Summits to keep in touch but I imagine it will be eventually replaced by one of the other tools above. Not necessarily an essential app but it is one I use.


These are the Microsoft Office and related apps which, even on the iPhone, leave the imitators for dust.


I had the pleasure of trying out the Outlook app for Android and love it for what it is. It is not a patch on the Windows equivalent but it does have one feature which the Windows version does not, which is the “Focused” option. The Focused tab shows the emails in your inbox you really need to see as opposed to the regular missives from stores, those interest groups you belong to and so on. How it works it out I am not sure but it does a pretty good job. If I have half an hour at home to see if there is an important email in my inbox, I reach for the Samsung, not the Surface.

Fortunately, the Apple version of Outlook has the same feature. Instead of getting up to date on my Facebook wall while heading to work, with my iPhone I now check my Focused inbox. Microsoft need to bring this to Windows Outlook and, hopefully, they will very soon.

In terms of how it compares to iPhone Mail app, one annoyance for me with Mail was having to set up mailboxes to see other folders. The ability to merge inboxes is nice though in the iPhone Mail app and something worth having in the Outlook app. Overall though I think my preferences are more down to familiarity than any inherent gap in either product.

Excel, Word, PowerPoint

I doubt I will be creating any of these on the iPhone but they are there so I can read the files that come into my inbox. You can also link these apps to the OneDrive, OneDrive for Business and SharePoint services to access files there but be careful not to violate corporate policies by storing work documents on these, if your company has such a policy.


OneDrive is an inexpensive cloud storage option and does the job. You can even stream mp4 movies from it, if so inclined. Again, an option in hotel rooms or Wi-Fi enabled transit lounges. Also, remember to comply with corporate policy if they have rules about storing files on third-party cloud services.

Lync 2013

Now known as “Skype for Business”, the app still bears the old name. I am struggling to get this app to connect to my work’s Lync server but, for the rest of you, try it. Even the staunchest of the anti-Microsoft crowd acknowledge how great Lync is. In terms of what it does, “Skype for Business” pretty much says it all; a corporate version of Skype where your ‘friends’ are your work colleagues and, if federated, your customers and suppliers.


As a consultant we need to get about. Here are the apps to help.


The default map application for iPhone. Given all the bad press when it first came out, I will probably stick to the alternatives but I do believe Apple has worked hard to make it practical.

Google Maps

No compelling reason other than it is really good and does not rely on locally stored maps. You can be anywhere in the world and, if you have an internet connection, you will have a map.


GPS becomes social in this great little navigation tool. People report incidences real time and the app even detects if you are moving slower than you should on a road and asks if there is a problem. When I am in traffic and need an alternative route, I reach for Waze.


The app that is so effective people call for it to be banned. This is a taxi service from your phone. What I love is that I can link it to my corporate card, book my taxi through the app, the payment is automatically deducted from my card, and the receipt is emailed to me. It could not be simpler. Being a phone app you can also see how far away the taxi is and the app gives you an estimated time of arrival based on the distance.


The apps I use when travelling by plane.


Replace with whatever airline your company uses. These apps are great for online check-in and using your phone as a boarding pass.

Virgin Australia Entertain

Needed so you can connect your iPhone to the Virgin Australia entertainment system.


A freemium app which you can send your pdf booking confirmations to and it will keep track of your flights. From there you can share the flight with loved ones or use it to check details when heading to the airport and the booking email is proving elusive. It also allows you to see who else is nearby when travelling, which is great when you are tired of ordering dinner for one.


An app which helps you book your seat. Give it an airline and flight and it will tell you which seats you should book and which you should avoid.


I use this for one purpose only; to find a decent restaurant when travelling. Tell it to find the restaurants nearby and it will give you the list, how far away they are and how they rank. You can then read the reviews to make sure.


A new app for me, it promises to keep track of all my loyalty cards. Having been in numerous hotels over the years for work, I have signed up to multiple hotel loyalty programs. Rather than carry around a stack of plastic cards I use infrequently, this app promises to keep them in one place. To get them in there there is even a scan feature to read the bar code on the card.

World Clock

The app for, this allows you to set up a series of cities and, for each one, it will display the time and date for that city. Great for international calls or for working out when you can call the loved ones back home.


While this is a business apps list, there is one game I will call out when you are travelling.


Google’s app which combines Geocaching with Capture the Flag. The missions feature is a great way to explore an unfamiliar city and see a few landmarks on the way. There is the added bonus of helping the Resistance stop the enslavement of mankind by the Enlightened. Fight evil, get some exercise and adjust, through exposure to sunlight, to the local time zone. Who says playing games is bad for you?


Apps specific to Dynamics CRM

The Two Microsoft Dynamics CRM Apps from Microsoft

While there are a mountain of apps in the App Store which work with Dynamics CRM, there are two official ones from Microsoft. I am yet to set these up but it would be remiss of me, as an Dynamics CRM consultant, not to have them available in case of that impromptu demo we are sometimes required to do in elevators or at business events.

Miscellaneous Apps

Here are the rest which defy classification.


I am yet to try it but so many “Must have” lists recommended it I was compelled to download it. Basically, you feed it a CSV file and it produces a presentation-quality graph which you can download and use.

Yahoo Weather

While the iPhone does come with its own weather app called Weather, the lists were also very complimentary of Yahoo Weather so I have downloaded it to see what the fuss is about.


If you are heading to a foreign country, this is a great little tool for learning a few words and phrases. In my case I am using it to keep my Spanish reasonably fresh. It is fun to use and very forgiving, recognising minor errors in accents and misspelling as small omissions, rather than marking them as completely wrong.


A conversion app for surviving weights and measures in the USA.

Wi-Fi Finder

An app which locates paid and free hotspots. Ideal when overseas and you cannot use phone data.


I am yet to meet an Apple user who rates Safari as a browser so I have downloaded Chrome.


So there you have it. There is my list of apps in my corporate iPhone to make my job easier. I am sure those of you with iPhones may have other suggestions so feel free to add them in the comments.