Garry got his “Microsoft is ready for your download to Windows 10” notification. It came in yesterday — less than 24 hours after we got the upgrade flag. This must be a record for speedy responses from Microsoft.
I haven’t gotten mine. I haven’t checked the two desk tops. I’m not sure I want to “upgrade.” I fervently wish I could call Microsoft and talk to a person. Ask a few questions.
Microsoft has no customer service, at least not for folks like me. Maybe for big corporate customers who own thousands of licenses. Perhaps then you get the magic phone number that routes you to a live person who answers questions.
Not me, though. I still don’t know if upgrading to Windows 10 will work on this computer. Or will make Garry’s laptop work better — or not at all. I’ve heard from people who had great experiences and those who had serious problems. I’ve heard of disasters with the new OS.
I’d just like to talk to someone, know someone has my back. Our computers are critical. Central. Our connection to the world. Upgrading an operating system is not a small thing.
This got me thinking about the whole “customer-provider” relationship. Here are some thoughts. (They don’t apply to Microsoft because they are far too lofty to bother with customer service. They don’t deal with humans.)
VOICE MAIL: LET ME CHOOSE WHAT I NEED
Every voice mail system starts out saying “Our options have recently changed.” Your options have not recently changed. “Recently” is no more than three months. After that, it’s not recent. Change your message already!
If I know the number I need, let me press it. Don’t make me sit there while you explain in stultifying detail every permutation of your voice mail system.
Accept this as axiomatic. Everyone is familiar with voice mail. It’s not new technology. We know to listen until we hear the option we need. I am not stupid. My time is valuable. Don’t waste it.
NUMBER 1 – BURY NOT THE LEAD
Whatever your organization does, make sure the first choice in your list is the thing most customers want. Probably not your address, business hours, website address, or the opportunity to hear about your new services — or take a survey.
If you are a personal service provider — doctor, dentist, veterinarian, massage therapist, hired assassin — scheduling should be on top. At least half your calls will be people who need to make, change, or cancel (or some combination) an appointment. Don’t send us to a sub menu with more options. Answer the damned phone.
If you are a utility — cell service, telephone company, ISP, power company, water — why do think most people call? Because your service isn’t working. No power, no water, no cell service, no dial tone. No WiFi. No cable. Do not tell us to use the website. If we could get to the website, we would not be calling you.
Whoever picks up the call must be able to reply to this: “Is this a general outage or is it me?”
- If the former: When do you expect service to be restored?
- If the latter, transfer the caller to tech support. Don’t ask us to make another call.
NUMBER 2 – IT DOESN’T WORK
Option 2 must be Technical Support. Something isn’t working or not working as it ought. Have a human being answer the phone. Even if it involves waiting, don’t make your already upset, angry customer wade through another set of prompts. Take responsibility. Be a person.
NUMBER 3: ABOUT THAT BILL
Option 3? The bill. Which we already paid, can’t pay, shouldn’t have to pay, is actually someone else’s. If you put us into another voice mail system, it will might us angry enough to dump you for another provider.
We do not want to leave a message for someone to ignore and never call back. We want to straighten out what we hope is a simple misunderstanding. If you send us to more voice mail or an answering machine — and you don’t return the call immediately — expect to never get your money, or lose our business. I have dropped providers many times and will do it again.
If you annoy me, I will hold a grudge. I am a paying customer. Act like you want my business.
A CAUTIONARY TALE
I hear so many companies complaining how bad business is. Never do I hear them wonder if their own action (or inaction) might have something to do with it. Maybe the problem is how badly you treat your customers.
Consider this. Blowing off customers does not endear you to us. If we can, we will go elsewhere. At the first opportunity, we will drop you so fast you won’t have a chance to say “Hey wait, I’ve got a deal for you.”
A couple of years ago, a friend of mine (finally) got FIOS as an alternative to ComCast. FIOS was (a bit) more expensive and had a smaller offering. She changed services anyway. She said: “I hate ComCast so much, I’d happily pay more to anyone just to be rid of them.”
I feel that way about our cable provider, Charter Communications. They think they are invulnerable because we have no choice, but WiFi based services are coming of age. There are more choices today … and more coming soon. It’s a matter of time. The ill-will you are amassing today will ultimately bury you as it has buried providers before you. The good-will of your customer is your primary asset.
It’s a cautionary tale for corporations who think they “own” the market and the customers.
BE NICE TO US. DON’T BE A STRANGER
Talk to us. Be nice . Make us feel valued. Calm us down rather than throwing gasoline on the fire. If you are in a service industry, provide service. That is why we pay you.