Software user behavior change (2003 - 2015)

Since more than 18 years, I'm developing and selling commercial software. I noticed quite a change in the behavior of the customers of my software, when it comes to support and problem resolution. To show what I mean, see the typical (shortened) exchanges I usually have with my customers:

2003 and before:
Customer: Hey, there seems to be a problem with your software. I tried for a few days now, and read all the documentation, but I cannot find a solution for $My_Problem$.
Me: Hi, just try $Solution$, and it should work for you.
Customer: Great, thanks! BTW, great software!

Customer: Hey, I think there is a bug in the software, I can't do $My_Problem$, can you help me?
Me: Sure, just do $Solution$, and it should work for you.
Customer: Great, thanks! BTW, great software!

Customer: Hey, your software sucks, I want a refund!
Me: Hm, what problem do you have with it? Any details?
Customer: I have $My_Problem$! Worst software ever!!!1!
Me: Maybe if you try $Solution$? Does that help?
<Customer doesn't bother to write an answer at all anymore>

<Customer Requests refund without contacting me at all>

Of course not all customers are like this, but there is a tendency of more people behaving like this. If they notice that something is not working as they expect it to, they quickly give up. They seem not to try to solve a problem themselves anymore, and become frustrated quite quickly. Requesting refunds without contacting me has fortunately not becoming the norm, but it is happening more often recently. I'm not trying to write a solution on how to prevent this, because I honestly have no idea how to do this. But if you are thinking about trying to create software for a living, you should prepare yourself for experiences like this.

eight comments, already:

It has become a time of instant gratification with everything. If it doesn’t bring instant results, then why bother? Plenty of options to choose from!

Personally i’m very glad with my skillset and apparantly i don’t have to worry about a younger generation making me obsolete.
Lenx - 10 12 15 - 17:57

Maybe jour targeted audience has changed ? I mean that your audience is maybe not programmers anymore ?
Dog - 10 12 15 - 20:24

I always had gamers also before, but yes, this could also be part of the reason. Definately less programmers now.
niko - 11 12 15 - 09:32

i really do understand what you are saying. although i don’t face similar situations. but it becomes very clear by just going through android play store comments over an application.
i think this is due to an already fast paced world becoming faster. people get frustrated quickly and don’t bother fixing things. not even relationships. replacing is much easier.
Mohammad () - 12 12 15 - 08:14

I worked as a lecturer at a local university here for 2 years and I can tell you the students nowadays are also behaving like this. Even if I show them the answer (I googled for them in few seconds and found the answer on stackoverflow) and tell just wouldn’t bother to even try it because there is no “green tick” on the stackoverflow page. wtf?
Virion () (link) - 20 12 15 - 06:44

Odd thing is, people think there is another option, but what they’ll find is that they’ll be cycling through the same set of options and getting no-where. Some of the best advice I’ve received for work came from what I heard on the irrlicht forums: Don’t curse your tools. Work with them.
It takes patience and dedication to make a program work flawlessly, and most non-programmers don’t realize that. We’d like help, but since people aren’t providing even basic responses to even simple inquiries like “What’s the problem?”, it makes sense why companies may go to great lengths to get data from people, even if such companies don’t have a history of “privacy invasion” or “auto-update”. Maybe people are just accepting the idea that they’ll always have the “Send report to Microsoft” option whenever Windows crashes.

Here’s some feedback for you: This comment box doesn’t allow me to type in real time, and sometimes misses keystrokes as a consequence. I’m on the (latest?) Firefox, but they may have updated it (again) while I wasn’t looking.
chrod - 30 12 15 - 01:59

Oh, I almost forgot. I use irrlicht frequently. Thanks for making it! BTW, great software!
chrod - 30 12 15 - 02:01

Comment box problem appears to be my Firefox. lol
chrod - 30 12 15 - 06:38

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