Bad Customer Service Has To STOP
Last night a friend of mine posted on Facebook that her Android phone wouldn’t let her login. She said she called Verizon and and the customer service representative told her that the ONLY thing she could do was to exhaust her login attempts and have the phone erase all the data and start over.
I couldn’t believe what I was reading. She’s not a techie by any stretch of the imagination, so I don’t blame her for following rep’s advice. Afterall they’re the experts, right? WRONG!
After about 3 minutes on Google and Reddit, I found a possible solution would avoid having to restoring her phone from scratch. Unfortunately by the time she saw my replies and pleas for her to not listen it was too late. Thank God restoring your Android phone isn’t all that painful, just time consuming.
This Laziness Is Rampant In The Customer Service World
I don’t know why, but I’ve seen this laziness and ineptitude over and over, not only with Verizon, but other companies.
One particular industry notorious for are Website hosting companies. Many hosts tout that they have great 24/7 support, but if you have a problem with your WordPress site (the CMS powers more than 26% of the Web) their only solution is to have you uninstall your plugins and reinstall them one at a time to find the culprit. Seriously? This is your GREAT support? These companies should, instead of racing to the bottom of the price ladder, charge a little bit more and provide good support.
There are a few WordPress-only hosting companies that do it right. The one I use for all my clients sites is FlyWheel (Full disclosure, they are sponsors of my PhillyTech.org Netcast Network, and link is an affiliate link). Not only are their servers optimized for WordPress, their support doesn’t make you jump through hoops to fix problems on your site. They will find the issue and tell you what is causing it and how to fix it. Often they will even fix it for you.
Now, the hosting isn’t the cheapest. Starting at $15/mo, for the tiny plan, they are a bit more expensive than those $2/mo servers, but the quality is clear.
I Have Experience On Both Sides
I’m not just talking out of my backside here. I have lots of experience on both sides, both as a consumer and on the brand side.
As a consumer I frequently communicate with brands through social channels. I praise them when they do a good job and I let them know (often strongly) when they do something wrong. I’ve also worked with brands, both in-house and as a consultant. I’ve seen first hand the old-time mentality of the call center and an over-focus on return on investment (ROI), rather customer service and customer happiness.
Jay Baer, the great social media and customer service expert said in his latest book “Hug Your Haters,” that you should want complaints, because those customers who complain are the customers that actually care. If a customer has a bad experience and doesn’t tell you, instead just writes off your business and goes somewhere else, that’s not helping you. A customer who complains wants to like your brand and wants you to improve.
It’s Worth Paying More For Good Customer Service
It’s worth paying more, because additional resources and training costs more. A good friend of mine, Ted Rubin, is a huge proponent of good customer service. He coined the phrase “Return on Relationship” and even wrote the book on it.
Ted is a social media and customer service visionary, who is constantly on the various social media platforms talking about both good and bad customer service. Throughout his travels, and he travels a lot, Ted stays in nice hotels that cost more, but have great customer service.
A great example is the Ritz Carlton. Ted loves them, because they go above and beyond for their visitors. Just check out Ted on Facebook and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
The point that Ted makes, as do many others (like the great Jay Baer and Frank Eliason), is that companies need to focus more on RonR than ROI. That spending more money to improve your customer’s experience will pay back much more than just one visit. It’s all about the relationship.
So Where Does This Leave Us?
Well, it’s up to both the brands and the customers to change. The brands need to invest in better customer service and the customers need to be willing to be smart consumers. And when in doubt there is always Google. If someone tells you that the ONLY way is to do it their way, doubt what they’re saying and do your own research.
Seth Goldstein is the principal creative director of Goldstein Media LLC, a interactive agency based in suburban Philadelphia. He has worked with clients of all sizes improve their presence on social media. Seth is a big proponent of Ted Rubin’s mantra Return on Relationship. If you want to be sure to receive all his updates, signup for his newsletter.