Customer Service

As a field services engineer, I’m becoming more and more aware of the various levels of customer service I see around me, and the effects they have on my (and other customers’) behavior.

Case in point: My hosting service had issues several months ago. It took 4 days to receive an initial response to my support query, and by then I’d basically created a workaround on my own. Since the problem was fixed, I stayed with that hosting service, but when I had another problem with them last month I ditched them without waiting for them to respond to my support request. I just plain didn’t feel like waiting… I moved over to Living Dot, a hosting service which costs more but has great reviews (including warm praises from one of my friends) for support. Sure enough, they went above and beyond on everything I asked them to do (and a few things I didn’t ask for). I’m happy to pay a few extra dollars for this kind of service. It’ll take some major wild horses to drag me away from these people.

Spending several days at Disneyland also reminded me of the value of customer service. I don’t even like the place that much… I mean, it’s fun, and the atmosphere is nice, and the kids love it, but, you know, *eh*. I’ve been there a zillion times. It’s expensive and crowded. I even worked there for a summer. However, every single cast member I encountered left me with a little extra smile in my day, and that makes for a very pleasant vacation, even when you’re waiting in line to see singing dolls.

One of the customers of my new company has been frustrated recently, and it turns out that a lot of that frustration has to do, not with our actual product or productivity, but with their feeling that we’re not listening to them. Hiring a field engineer (me) was a big part of our company’s strategy for improving this, but it’s always good to look around and see how good customer support is done to see if there’s any lessons to learn. We will do better, we *are* doing better, but I’d love to have our customers feel that we go above and beyond… it makes for some very loyal customers.

Of course, everybody has a different idea about what good customer service is. Google for ‘good customer service’ and look at the dizzying array of opinions… to me, it’s really not complicated. And it certainly doesn’t need complicated rules. Listen to your customers. Don’t do that annoying thing where you play ‘find the buzzword’ in what they’re saying and turn off your ears once they hit one. Just… listen. And try to think about how you can make their experience better (which is easier if you really listen).

PS: on my Disney vacation I got some work done on a moebius scarf I’m working on for Devon’s teacher. I’m looking forward to actually having a knitting thing to show off… hoping I might get a new camera for my birthday to make picture taking even more fun.

Dialogue & Discussion