What Customer Support Should be…

Customer ServiceMy experiences with my webhost (ixwebhosting.com) the last year (and especially the last few days) have been abysmal. Really the only reason why I’ve stuck with them is because I haven’t had the time to research and switch hosts. Now I do. Probably next week I’m going to be taking the plunge and transferring all my sites.

In my opinion, what makes or breaks a company (or any organization for that matter) is customer support. Probably more than ever – word of mouth matters – if you have crappy front line customer support it doesn’t matter how stellar the rest of your business is – your business/organization will suffer.

So, here’s my list of what customer support should be:

1. Don’t keep me waiting.
Whatever way you offer support, long delays mean I get unhappy. Don’t have an answer for the question I’ve asked – write, “we don’t have an answer yet but we’re looking into it” but DON’T say/write nothing. In today’s world more than ever, time = currency. I’m not just paying money for your product/service but I’m also paying time because there was a problem. You better balance out that time in coming up with a solution!

2. Assume I’m smarter than you (even though I’m probably not).
Nothing is more irritating than condescending and “know-it-all” customer support. Sure, there are always a whole host of “dumb” people that get in contact with you and I’ve had my share of dumb moments – but I’ll stick around with a company that makes me feel smarter than I am (and is patient with me when I’m not).

3. Remember I’m paying your paycheck.
Sure, in the grand scheme of things my contribution is probably about .005% BUT the power of word of mouth means that a big chunk of your future paychecks could depend on what I tell others about my experience with you – don’t forget you represent your company.

4. If you don’t know the answer, tell me, then find someone who does.
Don’t pretend you know what I’m talking about if you don’t. Get me to someone who does.

5. Keep your word.
Trust broken is gone. The sad thing is, most people don’t remember what went right but what went wrong. Especially when what went wrong involved being lied to. Know your companies guarantees and stick to them – I don’t care what your internal policy says – if you don’t have the authority to keep the guarantee then hurry up and get me to someone who does.

6. Communicate clearly.
If I don’t understand what you’re saying because you can’t talk my language then I’ll end up getting frustrated (and you probably will too).

7. Don’t wait for me to ask for reimbursement.
If you’ve screwed up, it cost me. Don’t think I’ll just forget it. It may cost you a little bit to reimburse me in some way but it’ll end up costing you a lot if I take my business elsewhere (and potential customers as well). If I have to ask for reimbursement, I’ll still remember the problem – if you offer it to me I’ll remember your solution.

8. I’m not always right, but it’s your job to make sure I think I am.
Your attitude when responding to communication from me matters. Don’t tell me not to add any more entries to a ticket I opened (especially when I go to live chat to find answers because there’s no response to the ticket…).

9. Like your job.

If you don’t like your job – I don’t want to know it. And bosses/owners – your customer support people are your evangelists. Make sure they like their job. If they don’t, I won’t like your company.

And finally,

10. Assume this is your company’s last chance…
…to make it worth my while to stick with you. Always remember that in today’s worlds there are options. You can either make it difficult for me to leave (because I like you too much) or difficult to stay (because you don’t like me enough).

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