Bad to Acceptable

Sorry for the later than usual post. My Internet was out for a lot of the day.

On Service Untitled, I usually babble about how to take your customer service from acceptable to great. I assume (and you know the saying about what happens when you assume) that when people take enough interest to read my blog, they have the acceptable part mastered already.

Well, I am clearly an idiot. A big idiot!

A colleague of mine is trying to deal with a company that makes billing software. While this software isn’t a $3,000,000 CRM application from Oracle, it is not cheap software. It is definitely a few hundred bucks (on the light side) and is quite a powerful application as well. 

The software, though grossly complex to setup and use, is good. The company and the customer service they provide – not so much. As my colleague put it (he is a techy): their support = horrible. To get that wonderful explanation, here is what they have done:

  • He has gotten three different answers about a particular module of the software that he needs to use:
    • It is a premier module, so the company wrote it and it can do recurring billing
    • It is an addon module written by someone else and cannot do recurring billing
    • It is a premier module, but we cannot answer basic questions as to how it works.
  • They told him to call, but did not pick up their phone.
  • Voicemails are not returned.
  • Their replies are slow.

It is very frustrating for everyone. My colleague can’t edit the product and fix the problem himself because it is all encrypted (that is a whole different debate) and now he has to wait for this rather incompetent (at least when it comes to customer service) company to fix the problem. The experience has been terrible and is driving everyone nuts.

They are definitely more on the “bad” side of the bad/acceptable/great scale.

Bad Acceptable   Great
Does not answer phone and/or reply to emails promptly. Answers phones and replies to emails. Has smart, informed, and well trained people answer phone and reply to emails, promptly.
Rude/disrespectful  Average etiquette Great etiqutte. Everything is done right.
Does not care Cares to an extent Lives and breathes customer service

This, of course, is a general table. It isn’t specfic to the company I am talking about, but it can be used as an illustration to see the difference between the types of companies.

To give an example of a company that is literally the opposite, here is a true story. A company that makes a hosted product that also isn’t cheap, but definitely not expenisve donated a copy of their product to an organization I am involved with.

I (blindly – had never spoken to anyone at the company before) asked that they do donate it and though they weren’t really setup to donate it, went out of their way to set the organizatoin up with an account they needed, for free.

The organization had a whole bunch of problems at first, but the company listened (very well) and was always communicating with them about what was going on, what they were doing, etc. You would call them, and if they didn’t pick up right away, they would call you back right away. They responded to emails quickly. They spent an hour or so on the phone trianing a few of the organization’s employees. They even followed up. Throughout the whole experience, one guy dealt with us and was very nice, knew what he was talking about, and helpful.

And they did all of that for a customer that didn’t even pay. Quite frankly, it was a great customer (service) experience. Based on my experience, I am confident the company will continue to do well and provide great customer service.

Oh, and the great company reads this blog, which I like to think helps to an extent. It at least shows they care enough to try and learn about customer service and possibly improve theirs. I wonder (and doubt) if the bad company does.