Snow Leopard has been out less than a week and already there are compatibility issues - with Adobe CS3 to be exact. I didn't upgrade, Louis did, and I do not have Adobe CS3 suite on my Mac, only at work on my PC. So I won't launch into a highly technical post on the compatibility issues. Adobe and CS3 users have been at it for days now. John Nack even wrote a post about comments to the post.
What I'd like us to explore is a few learning points about handling customer conversations on a blog, or a forum. Given the gold rush online, it's worth taking a moment to understand how frustration and overwhelm can easily take over and challenge us. If your organization and business is planning to build a presence online, you might think about some of these likely scenarios.
Customer service is not exactly a crisis communications emergency, although it could become one when not handled properly. Poor customer conversations do lead to team burnout along with giving your company a bad reputation and poor word of mouth. Whenever I ask business owners what is the most likely reason people find out about their products and services, they immediately say word of mouth.
Nack later posted an open letter to customers from Adobe VP Lambert Walsh, who recognizes:
We are working diligently – in fact, teams are working around the clock – to resolve these issues. I’d like to thank all our customers who are sharing feedback and giving us the opportunity to respond. We appreciate your loyalty, support, and willingness to make your concerns heard.
Being helpful is where it's at and any business that figures how to do that consistently wins - in the near and long term. Given that there is so much talent out there today, I would be looking at those lines of business that have a near-monopoly on the market for new business ideas.
Read those comments in the posts above - they are by customers passionate about the products who have consistently lamented one thing in unison: Adobe customer service is a check-the-box experience. Run a Google search, you will see that Adobe and customer service don't go together very well. What about?
- getting the actual technical folks online. If they are one and the same with product managers, great. If not, get the tech folk involved early
- developing a way to sift through inquiries coming in (this is where you could make a good use of checking the box ) and then routing them to the right experts immediately. For CS4 issues, John; for CS3 compatibility problems, Dan; for known Safari plug in issues talk to Lia, and so on (I'm making the names up)
- then publishing the help guides and continuing to be proactive
Instead of letting things heat up in the comments to a couple of blog posts, the organization could prepare for issues in advance. Apple has a loyal following of professionals who tend to be early adopters. It's almost a guarantee that they'd be on a new product as soon as available.
Bottom line - It takes as much energy and resources out of an organization to do poor customer service as it does to excel at it. In fact, doing a good and well supported release costs less. The cost of customer support is dependent on good product stewardship. Today at Fast Company expert blog we look at the bottom line when it comes to solving customer issues.
Teresa asks, have we become too lazy as customers? Weigh in with your thoughts.
[image credit the techno file]