Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Software Support: A Customer Service Story

Over the last several days, I've spent a fair amount of time chasing down some information vital to obtaining some software via download from a major company. We've had dealings with this company before, and they have lived up to their reputation of being hard to contact and difficult to deal with once you do find someone to talk to.

Late yesterday, I'd spent 15 minutes or so on hold, until their automated system decided I'd waiting long enough and kicked me into voicemail. I left as much information as I could articulate clearly over the phone: my contact info, the order info, and what I was trying to accomplish. I had not heard back by the time I left for the day.

This morning, there was a message waiting for me when I arrived in my office, left by a support representative about 20 minutes after I'd left for the day. He said he would call back "in the morning." My faith was less than profound.

Because my level of trust in the company's support was low, I called the support line back first thing and actually did get connected to someone who sounded very far away, and who sounded vaguely Scandinavian—like Stephen Hawking's speech generator. With this assistance, I did gain access to what I needed and touched off several Gigabytes of downloads. This solved my technical problem of getting into the site.

A short while later my phone rang, and I was surprised to hear the very person who had left me voicemail yesterday, a man named Andrew. I let him know I had already gained access, but that I had several questions about why this company's process was so convoluted and what we could do to make it better in the future. He spent about 15 minutes on the phone with me. He pulled up the records of our dealings with the company in question and explained two ways we could improve our experiences. He gave me the phone number of a different group that could go farther to resolve the over-arching issue: Simplification of access and licensing (not handled by his group). I then asked him for his email address so that I could send him something he could share with his supervisor, if possible. Andrew had done an excellent job of turning around what otherwise was a dreadful customer service experience.

About 20 minutes later I sent Andrew a thank you, congratulating him for doing a great job of customer service, in contrast to every other contact I had ever had with the company. Here's exactly what I wrote, except for the name of the company in question:

Andrew, I just want to tell you what a pleasure it was to speak with you. I have been chasing this particular issue around the block for days, and you gave me valuable information for our future purchases from [Company]. Although you had called late in the day yesterday, you said you would call back, and you followed through. You asked for pertinent information and looked into why we might be having the issues we have been seeing (not having access to the downloads associated with our purchases). You gave me some questions to ask within our organization, and some paths to follow to be able to simplify our purchases. Your customer service was exemplary, and I’d be very pleased if you were to share my comments with your supervisor, who is free to call me any time. In short, you rock!
Thanks, Roy

I hope I made Andrew's day a little better. He certainly helped mine, by

  • Following through on a simple commitment
  • Being pleasant and professional in manner
  • Having empathy for the situation
  • Having access to the information he needed in order to help me
  • Passing that information along, and making some suggestions that would help
Have you had a good customer service experience recently? Post a comment and let me know.

(Post updated to clarify some parts of this experience - thanks for your comments, Jeff!)

Give it some thought.

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