Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Act Now to Offend Your Customers!

Another company calling to upsell me! Does this actually work on people?

We get the Sunday paper for the coupons, and I get a call from a hurried rep. This particular rep apparently works on commission for Boston Globe, because she's trying to upsell me to the weekend edition (not even sure what that really is, she was talking too fast for me to understand). I politely declined once, and she persisted, saying she "wasn't looking for a long term commitment." I politely declined again, and she said "OK," and abruptly hung up.

My opinion of the Boston Globe has declined at this time. What could Boston Globe have done better? What if a rep (not under time pressure) called me to ask how I was enjoying the Boston Globe? What parts of the Sunday paper do I enjoy the most? What could they do to make my experience better? She would have learned that I order the Sunday paper just for the coupons. Maybe she could have talked to me as an adult and suggested ways for me to enjoy the paper I already get more than I do now. Maybe that would have led to me reading the paper. Maybe I would have decided that I wanted more issues of the Globe.

Instead, a pushy sales rep tried to push an upsell on me. Bush league, Boston Globe.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

This Is How We Do It; or, Customer Service Done Right and Wrong

Right on the heels of my last bad customer service experience, I've got two more tales about how to do it right and wrong.

I've been locked out of my Sovereign and Fidelity accounts for a while (I tend to forget my passwords) and finally decided to call them up to restore access. 

I called Sovereign first. Calling the number in their "Your account has been locked out" message, I find that the number is their generic customer service number. Great, now I have to navigate the phone tree to find the "I'm an idiot and forgot my password" option. I finally get through to a rep. He asks me a few security questions in a near-monotone voice and unlocks my account. Without asking if I was able to log in correctly, he asks if I need any more help. I answer, "I'm all set," and he launches into an upsell attempt for either identity or overdraft protection. I cut him off once with "No thank you." but he keeps going. Realizing he is going to be graded on whether or not he makes this pitch, I wait until he's done, then restate, "No thank you."

With Sovereign fixed, I call Fidelity. Phone tree asks my SSN, and then immediately connects me to a rep. This rep is much more upbeat, even making jokes with me (well, laughing at my pitiful jokes). She is able to unlock my account and offers to wait while I log in. She asks if I she can help me at all, and I ask for clarification on a prior issue. She answers my question, and that conversation leads to a discussion about me possibly opening up a Fidelity IRA in the future. 

I noticed several key customer experience differences between these calls:
  • The Sovereign rep sounded bored out of his mind. The Fidelity rep sounded excited to talk to me.
  • The Sovereign rep clearly had a script to follow. The Fidelity rep was given more flexibility.
  • At the end of the Sovereign call, I started thinking again about moving to a credit union. At the end of the Fidelity call, I felt excited about possibly opening a new account with Fidelity.
  • When the Fidelity phone system took my SSN, it knew that I needed to speak to a rep, so it directly routed me to one. Sovereign's phone system made me jump through hoops to get to the right rep.
But if you look at the technical differences, there are really only two: a smarter phone system and a better customer rep. This can't be that hard to set up, can it?

One More Thing...

I'm really surprised how much Steve Jobs' passing is affecting me. I always thought he was a brilliant innovator but an arrogant asshole as well. I poke fun at Apple fanboys, yell about Apple anti-competitive behaviors, point out ridiculous pro-Apple bias.

And yet, you can't even begin to imagine how far Steve brought the tech world forward. Without question, his singular leadership made our world (not just tech, but the way we live our lives) better.

RIP, Steve Jobs.

(who is cutting onions in here?)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Wasted Opportunity

Just got a call from someone representing Dell (may have been outsourced) who tried to up-sell me on a more expensive warranty than the one I purchased with the laptop I bought a few months ago. The rep was extremely pushy, despite my gentle and polite but firm insistence that I did not want what he was selling. I finally had to hang up on him (I suppose I could have lied and told him I no longer owned the computer, but I wanted to see how the truth would work).

Seriously, Dell? I try to defend you, but then you pull a terrible customer service move like this. You had an opportunity to have a human conversation with me about how the laptop was working out, seeing if there was anything I needed help with. Instead, you insult me as a customer.

When my father bought an iPad, he received a custom email a month later from the sales rep asking how it was going and if he could help. Nothing about money or sales, just making sure he was settled and happy. The rep then helped my father fix a problem he was having without referring to outsourced tech support.

See the difference? Forget about the relative performance of Macs and PCs. The meta-ownership experience of the two systems are light-years apart. This is something that seems so easy to get right, and yet PC manufacturers (and plenty of other companies... ask me about my GM experience sometime) continually get it wrong.
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