Ronald van Weerd, our amazing support forum moderator, and I were talking about our customer support at iThemes today and he really got me thinking about customer service when he asked me, “When the roles are reversed, what kind of customer service do you expect?”
It reminded me of my experiences of the last week ….
My awesome Mac laptop went bellyup. I was out of town when I found out, trying to get work done and it was a frustrating experience knowing your key tool for working is dead.
I spent the entire morning trying to get it back up. I even had one of our guys search for the answer!
When all that failed, I got my wife’s laptop, fired it up … only to find out that the people we were staying with (grandparents) didn’t know the password to their secured Wi-FI.
Fast forward … I go to the Apple store on a Saturday. I schedule my appointment. The guy’s super nice, starts looking it over, then gives me bad news. Hard drive is done. Needs a new one but that’ll take a couple of days.
I think to myself … how nice would it be to have someone to take out my frustrations on.
But then I realize something …
I’m not that kind of person. I don’t like acting like a spoiled brat in public, typically.
And although I’m irritated, it’s not his fault, or even Apple’s. Crap happens. And I don’t like blaming people. And certainly on the other end, I don’t like being treated that way — as a place to vomit someone’s anger. (Practice the golden rule, people!)
But seriously, I really try to be patient with people … and realize that sometimes people have bad days. The people I try to treat the best are waiters and waitresses. People dump on them all day. I like to leave at least 20% tip, even if they suck.
Tangent, sorry … fast forward again … I buy a new laptop (I can’t be down for 3-4 days), I start installing my software … I get to one of my only “extra” pieces of software — Adobe. Stalled again.
My old laptop still had the Adobe software activated and I had too many activated and it wouldn’t let me activate a new one.
It’s important software for me. I need it almost every day.
So I surf around Adobe’s site … do the Q&As, documentation, everything I can find (not much for my problem specifically) ….
Finally, I find a support contact system and submit a ticket. (Still haven’t heard anything.)
A couple of days later, I gotta get something figured out, so I call Adobe.
I realize, I’m talking to someone in India perhaps.
I realize … I’m from Oklahoma and people from Chicago laugh at my accent, and I’m afraid she can’t understand me because English isn’t her first language like it is for my Chicago friends. But I quickly realize, I’m having trouble understanding her as well.
BUT … she gave me a new activation code and I got Photoshop running!
OK, where is all this going?
So … customer service …
Question: What kind of customer service do I want personally and expect as a customer? (Not the business giving the service but the end user/consumer of products and services.)
- I want something that works – I read this a while back: people want products, especially technology to just work – out of the box, no hiccups, glitches, just running smoothly. When it doesn’t work, I want to throw it. And my American impatience gets the best of me. (We’re working on ways to get customers going fast with the themes they buy from us without having to go looking for it.)
- I want to easily find answers to my questions – I surfed Adobe’s site and felt the frustration some of our customers have expressed when they can’t find a solution to their problem in our forum. (We’re really working on a better search solution, I promise.)
- I want to get a response – I never got a reply ticket from Adobe and I remember many times when an email gets dropped by me or someone else on our team and why people are frustrated. (I’m sorry for that.) But I realize that ANY response (something Ronald’s said to me many times over and over — “just tell them you’re working on it at least”) allows that person to feel a sense of relief and move on. I think even if someone says, “Buzz off,” people will be less mad sometimes because they’ve been acknowledged.
- I want to deal with nice people – The guy at the Genius Bar was cool and nice. He wasn’t over the top at all. I don’t think he smiled, but I liked him and he was helping me. Ronald is a SUPER nice guy. Most days I’m a pretty nice guy, until someone starts off by venting on me without a warmup kiss. Then I’m not as nice, but still try to be nice. But I think even if the guy was neutral (he kind of was), I’d still feel great.
- I want to be pacified in some way – I want to be bribed, don’t you? I mean, I’m one of those dumb Americans who somewhere at the core thinks I’m entitled to something. (I really hate that actually, and try to snuff it out in myself.) I want something free thrown in because of my “hassle.” And let’s be honest, who doesn’t? So I was SUPER happy when I wasn’t charged $400 for my hard drive replacement, even though I didn’t have the extended warranty. I love Apple even more. (But seriously Apple, don’t be evil! Just because you know I’ll pay $2600 for your products doesn’t mean you should hold me ransom. Every now and then, you can actually lower your prices on it when I’m thinking that Dell is like $1500 cheaper. Reward me, baby!)
All this to say … I’m taking these lessons and trying to implement them into our business to make it better, easier, nicer for our customers. Experience is everything.
But … we’re a work in progress!