Here's the tricky question for you - are you reasonable as to what you want as a customer? Do you check The Consumerist and track down company executives phone numbers?
Clearly, when all is well and there is a good system or process in place for the company to be responsive to your customer service requests, you probably are like me and go through the channels. When things start going South, how likely and how quickly are you to escalate your request?
Today it should be fairly easy to track any company down through a representative online. Has that made it more obvious that customer service is a mindset? On the other hand, are you more objective in your demands once you have had the opportunity to talk with a representative of that company?
On Christmas Day I got on Skype to call my family in Italy. My account is set up to auto-recharge when it dips below a certain amount so that I do not need to worry about interrupting a call to recharge - and worse, having to wait until the transfer is approved. Why it takes so long to approve an electronic transfer on a pre-approved account still mystifies me. Anyway, there I was on the phone with my sister...
... and all of a sudden, not only the auto-recharge does not happen, but the manual recharge I apply frantically runs out before I can speak with my mother. Bummer. I put in a ticket with Skype through their regular channels. The next day Skype charged me twice, once for the auto-charge that had not worked and once the manual charge. Yet the moment was gone. Well, it is a holiday. Let them come back to me.
It turns out that PeteratSkype is on Twitter and somehow found out I was making inquiries there on Christmas Day. Peter contacts me to find out how he can help. I add him to my network on Twitter to follow through with his request, but it looks like he has not added me or Twitter is broken so I cannot DM him. In my response back to Peter, you will notice that I informed him that DM was not working.
I hear back the next day. Let me make it really clear to you PeteratSkype, Twitter and the immediacy of online marketing (because this is what it is to Skype in addition to customer service) are not a let-me-try-it thing - you either do it or you don't. If you are online and ask me how you can help, my expectation is that you take action at the moment of asking, not a few days later. Expectation needs to meet experience.
Meanwhile, the response to my ticket came - three days later. In the email, the rep told me to check my balance on Skype, which at that point was doubled given the two withdrawals from Skype, and to make sure I had the latest version of the software installed, which I do. PeteratSkype sends another message on Twitter to tell me he is tracking down what happened... should I expect an answer eventually? Maybe within the week? In the New Year?
You who are reading this might think that I enjoy talking about companies stumbling through this new age of connected customers. I most certainly do not. I continue to be willing to go through channels and give companies a chance. But hey, when you reach out to me in an immediate channel that is free to you, you've got to come through with the same degree of immediacy. Show me you have a sense of urgency.
I will vote with my wallet and find other options when those companies demonstrate gross negligence of care. I no longer wish to engage in lengthy and adversarial debates over who is right. What I want is a service that works. Period. Fix the service. Customer service is the new marketing.
This is a new era of customer conversation and companies will need to learn how to execute in it or be executed right out of customer conversations - and consideration. Customers will walk away never to come back.
It is no longer efficient or worth it to fight a company over service when one can easily find another company hungry and willing to take its place and deliver. Today at Fast Company Expert blog we talk about how your company can innovate its way out of this rut and put value back in the customer experience.
What about you? Do you have a story of when you had to escalate the issue? How did you get what you wanted? Would you do that again?