As I sit down to write a post about customer service, in my mind I repeatedly hear Peter from Family Guy say, “You know what really grinds my gears…” That is certainly a sign that I am about to embark on a rant.
I recently had a couple customer service encounters that will probably stay fresh in my mind for a long while and have a lasting effect on my perception of the companies involved. They are: Verizon and Amazon.
I upgraded my iPhone 4s to an iPhone 5s last week (clearly I’m not an Early Adopter). I am a Verizon customer and have always been a Verizon customer since purchasing my first cell phone as a freshman in college nearly twelve years ago. I ordered the phone online, as the thought of going to a busy store with a toddler in tow did not appeal to me at all. The phone arrived at my house very quickly as I expected it would. Then began the process of deactivating the old phone and activating the new phone. I will openly admit that I am someone willing to sit down and do tedious tasks. I will organize and clean for hours. I will research until my eyes go bloodshot, but when I am faced with instructions on how to do something – no matter how simple – with a piece of technology, my mind goes, “Why God why?!” I have no patience for it. Thankfully, I married an engineer and can typically avoid such silly mental breakdowns. I encountered some issues with the activation process, which I discovered later on was because I still had the old phone turned on. Simple mistake. But in the process I ended up having to call Verizon. This is where my real issue with customer service comes in…
In order to do anything over the phone with the Verizon rep I needed my phone passcode. I have no idea what my phone passcode is as the last time I called Verizon was two years ago during my previous upgrade. I know my online passcode which gets used every month when I pay my bill. I know my account number. I know my phone number, billing address, social security number, but phone passcode? Not a clue. After three guesses given to the rep, she was locked out, and could no longer be of assistance to me, directing me back to the website.
Are you kidding me?
I can’t talk discuss my account or any problems with Verizon unless I know a passcode that gets used once every two years? All that other crucial information – online passcode, social security number, and so on – counts for nothing? But please direct me back to the website where the security question of, “Where is your favorite place to vacation?” is a really tough one to crack…
On a more positive note, I interacted with Amazon the other day.
I am seven months pregnant with my second child and decided to use Amazon for our baby registry this go around. I don’t have to go into a store and scan things. I can find a variety of products I may not find in a store, and family and friends can just click a link, and voila! Jen’s list of baby needs are there.
I was checking out the registry to email to family members, and saw that two registries came up for my husband and I. One had only one item listed, the other was the full list. I was fearful that some of my not-so-tech-savvy family members would click on the one and think there wasn’t anything left to buy and completely disregard the real registry. So, I decided to delete it. Oops! That caused both to disappear… Again, I am seven months pregnant, and now is not the time to have a baby registry that I have added and deleted things to over the past several months suddenly disappear on me. It’s an added stressor that I simply don’t need.
I immediately searched for customer service contact information. I will say, as much as I love Amazon, and frequently shop their site, the contact information was a little overwhelming. I didn’t want to search through the FAQ. My issue was not related to one of the options listed that would provide me with a precise department email or phone number. Finally I noticed a chat option, and decided since our Amazon account is under my husband’s name (though I do all the shopping) I should probably use chat instead of the phone as my voice would clearly give it away that I am not my husband.
The customer service representative on chat did not work in the registry department, so she immediately switched me over to someone who did. In less than a minute, she said, “If you refresh your page, you should see the registry again.” That was it. I refreshed and there were all those items listed again. Thank you Amazon!
The whole chat ordeal took less than 5 minutes. Since I was already logged into my Amazon account with our email and password, I didn’t have to give any other information in order to be assisted. My fear of the items being gone and lost forever were quickly eased. Had they not been able to restore my registry, they would have lost a customer. No way was I going to spend time trying to figure out what it was I had actually put on this thing.
So lessons learned from these two experiences –
- If a customer cannot recall a piece of information needed to receive assistance, make sure there are other routes to take. Let them prove they are who they say they are by answering other information, such as an account number, billing address, social security number, etc.
- Equip your customer service reps with advanced technology. The Verizon rep only tried three times to get my passcode correct before she was locked out. Really? Three tries and their power to help is completely stripped away.
- Provide customers with the simplest of technical instructions so they don’t have to call you or search their website. Provide the right support from the get-go in order to avoid additional support costs.
- Make sure your website is easy to navigate. Don’t think like a website designer, think like a customer.
- Ensure that deleted information is backed up somewhere in case of a customer emergency. A baby registry, bridal registry – or for the business customer, a list of sales leads – is able to be found should the customer make an oopsie.
This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: Lessons In Customer Service
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