Yesterday I was reminded of how (for many companies) customer service has changed. And I was reminded how there are still companies that do not get customer service. This particular example brought me back to the technology boom days we enjoyed a decade ago. Back then it was common for technical support people to scold customers who were adamant about getting service.
Here’s how it worked:
1. You had a problem with your computer, software or Internet connection.
2. You submitted a “ticket” and waited for someone to respond with help.
3. If you had no response you would repeat your request
4. Then you would get a nasty email from technical support/customer service telling you they are working on your request and that “duplicating tickets” would not get your problem resolved any faster. In fact, it might do the opposite.
Some companies put this type of comment on their website as a warning to customers. Their message was clear: “Don’t pester us or you’ll risk getting no service.”
Having spent some time in the tech world I understand the reason for these policies. Support teams were bombarded by requests, many of which were repeats. And every repeat got entered as a new request which really messes up their statistics and their support database. Duplicate requests create unnecessary work. Besides, people hate being pestered.
My response is: too bad.
Any company that has a policy like this is asking to be run out of business. Any company that tolerates their support or service employees sending emails like I mentioned above will not survive. Not anymore.
To these companies I would offer this advice:
1. I’m the customer. I don’t care how messy your support database gets or if your statistics are full of duplicates. That’s your concern, not mine.
2. I bought a product or service from you with the understanding you would support it. So please focus on helping me have a good experience.
3. If you’re not going to respond promptly then expect repeated requests for help (or in your terms, “duplicate tickets”). You might be working on my problem but if you don’t tell me then I will not know. So, send a message that says: “thanks for your request, we’re working on it and we’ll contact you within xx hours.” This assures me you got my request and are dealing with it so I don’t have to wonder.
4. Don’t try to manage your support by changing my behavior. Manage it by focusing on how to help me get what I want. Then be effective and efficient in how you do that.
Above all remember two things:
One, your customers come to you for help, not to be scolded. So help them.
Two, your customers pay your wages. So help them.
Maybe ten years ago support teams and technology companies could get away with such arrogant, customer hostile behavior. But not these days. Today customers are less willing to tolerate that. we have more choices and we know it. And, in a slowing economy, chasing away too many customers this way could put you out of business before you know what happened.