How is your customer support doing?

According to BlueWolf, not so hot. More than half of businesses still have never responded when customers tweet about a bad experience. What are you waiting for?

The information they collected for their infographic shows how unforgiving we have become as a group of customers. When things go awry, 17% of customers bail on the first mistake, and 40% will leave after two strikes. Wow.

It seems these days almost everyone is using social media for customer support. The newspapers are filled with stories. My daughter’s GenY is getting hired (when they can find a job) doing such work for a wide variety of companies: clothing stores, restaurants, and other retailers. It wasn’t too long ago when just getting a website up and running was a challenge for many of these businesses. Now the bar has been raised, and they have to do better at engaging and keeping their customers.

We have come to expect more from our suppliers. We want things fixed. Here is one example. I have been a Vonage customer for seven years. But lately, I am not really using the service. I find myself going between Skype and my cell, and I long ago stopped having an actual physical desk phone in my office. So I went to try to terminate the service. It took three phone calls to their call center: the first was dropped (perhaps accidentally, perhaps intentionally). The second I was tricked into keeping the service. I lucked out on the third call and got a supervisor who was able to do the deed.

Now, I liked my Vonage line when I used it: it gave me a freedom from Ma Bell and I had few problems over the number of problems that I had their service. I liked that I could move my 310 phone number from California to St. Louis. I liked that I could resolve most issues on my own with their Web portal and self-service controls. But the termination experience left a bad taste in my mouth. They shouldn’t have to make it so hard to say goodbye. I wasn’t trying to get a better deal: I just wanted to end our relationship.

The warning signs are clear: if you don’t keep your customers happy, someone else will.

One thought on “How is your customer support doing?

  1. Well said!

    And actually, it’s worse than this – you will never know how many customers you will lose because they researched you and went elsewhere. My own case in point being Live365. I was interested in subscribing to Mandarin Radio on their service. However, being in the UK I wanted to be sure I’d be able to cancel because after a year or two I’d probably have heard enough and be into something else. The small print did not look good at all; it’s an online service, yet you can only cancel by phone, and by default they’ll keep rebilling your card.

    Well here in the UK we have a very handy banking facility known as Direct Debit. If you’re paying by Direct Debit and you can’t get through on the phone, just cancel the Direct Debit. Then it’s the company’s problem to stop their service with you or otherwise get in touch with you.

    So, no thankyou Live365, or anyone else on the same billing model. It gives a perverse incentive to make your customer service as crappy as possible. I now get my online radio for free at shoutcast.com. Not quite what I wanted but I’m not locked in.

    PS If you Google “Mandarin Radio” today, their website appears pretty much defunkt.

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