Posted by: Joe | January 28, 2008

Customer Service: Not Dead Yet

If you read The Consumerist regularly, I’m sure you’re convinced that most retailers are either trying outright to rip you off, insensitive, oblivious or just plain dumb.

My experience has generally been the opposite. I’ve had a couple good examples over the past week.

The day after my rant to Paper Bag Records, I noticed a URL from mail.theacorn.ca in my referrer logs. My guess is that either a member of the band or a friend ran across my post and forwarded it along. Another day passes and I receive the following email from a PBR rep:

I hear you’re having trouble with the download site…I’m in contact with download centric who is our backend for the tech side and will sort out the problem.

What was it specifically from the Acorn that you were looking for? Track or album I’ll get it over to you in the next day. btw, I wasn’t informed that this would be an issue or we would have corrected it from the onset.

I apologize for the inconvenience. I’ll do my best to resolve this for you ASAP.

As it turns out there was a territorial rights issue with the hosting service who manages their web store (I know from my DTEC/WMG days that this kind of asset management can be a righteous PITA). The problem was fixed up in short order and I was able to purchase the album I wanted, and for acting as their beta tester, the rep gave me a download link for The Acorn‘s Tin Fist EP well.

This is the best kind of customer service–companies who use the technology available to them to proactively seek out dissatisfied customers and try to make problems right.  I had a similar experience with Dell earlier this year (note the comment in the blog post).

The second example of great customer service last week involved Microsoft.

The first manufacturing run of Xbox 360s  were terrible. Crap.  Awful.  Anybody in the gaming community has heard horror stories of people returning a dozen consoles that were all lemons, or the Consumerist’s recent post on a customer who had a console die 5 times.

My first console died via the Red Ring of Death after about 3 months.  Microsoft replaced it with a new console immediately.  Recently that second console stopped being able to read discs–neither games, nor DVDs.  Because it was long since out of the warranty period, I had to pay to have it repaired (which I had no problem with), but i was a little perturbed to hear that the repair could take up to 8 weeks.  A little ticked off, I shipped the console in the box which arrived a couple days later.

Within 3-4 days, there was a Purolator sticker on my front door.  Rather than having me to wait 6-8 weeks for a repair, Microsoft sent me back a refurb unit, with a new 1 year warranty and a free month Xbox Live Gold membership.

Nobody wants their customers to be unhappy.  For the most part, the people who work in customer service are good people in a tough job who want to  help, and if you treat them well, you’ll get treated well in return.  Of course there are exceptions, but most of the stories I read on The Consumerist involve dramatics, emotion and people who think that companies are deliberately targeting them, and it’s no wonder that they don’t get the help they want.

On top of which, you don’t get page views and ad revenue by publishing a bunch of examples of the system working the way it should.  People read The Consumerist for the train wrecks, and while they do occasionally post examples of good customer service, they’re few and far between.

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