The ABC’s of Online Customer Service

I opted to use two different types of companies for two different work-related projects. 

Offering distinctly separate services and deliverables, the only similarity is that both Company A and Company B were both found online and I had never used their services before. After a while, though, I found they had another item in common: poor customer service.

Company A

Company A claimed quick turn-around times. So, it was a nice surprise when I found out through a direct message from them that they offered even quicker turnaround times if I simply inquired. 

So, I did. My only concern was it an upsell pitch for faster service, but I didn’t let that bother me as I was willing to pay to get this phase of the project over with as soon as possible. 

Turns out, however, that Company A does not offer a quicker service (even if you are willing to pay for it like I was). Their response was that they are too swamped with other orders to offer quicker turn around times. 

While that’s a good problem for Company A to have, why send a communication to a client (even if it’s a boilerplate copy sent via an auto-responder) saying you could offer something that you couldn’t deliver?

Company B

Company B produces quality products. However, working with them has become a nightmare. Every person in the company gets to send an email to me with their own questions and concerns about their own piece of the project. 

When I do answer one person, it’s as if the communication gets trapped in a sandbox. The other people that are involved in the project from Company B don’t get notified. 

Why do I need to be not only my own project manager for my side of the project, but step in and fill the role as project manager for Company B?

Is Crud the Name of Your Customer Service?

Other people and publications have written about customer service and its value to any business. My only contribution to this discussion is that based on recent personal experience, I can only concur.

If you do business online, you need to be make sure the communication to customers is consistent and clear.

The Movie Industry Gets It Half-Right

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I applaud the developments of the movie industry to allow the downloading of movies through a new venture called Movielink.

The mere existence of this initiative doesn’t help their arguments made during the 2006 Oscars: nothing replaces the magic of going to the movies and that downloading movies therefore is like reading a graphic novel of a classic book.

But at least the movie studios realize that argument isn’t going to work on people paying through the nose for high-speed Internet connection. Also, the masses are going to go after what they want, even if Widescreen is better than Fullscreen. 

Welcome to the future, Movie Industry. Sort of. 

While you are actually acknowledging the desires of your customers by creating this service, you’re not quite there as evidenced by this warning message I received when I tried to use the site (emphasis is mine):

Sorry, but as of May 2, 2005, Movielink no longer supports Windows 98 and ME operating systems. Movielink also does not support Mac or Linux.

In order to enjoy the Movielink service, you must use Windows 2000 or XP, which support certain technologies we utilize for downloading movies.

I’ll grant the movie industry some slack in acknowledging that most people are using a flavor of Microsoft OS including, I don’t know, say, movie studio bosses. However, movie studios are denying so many people by relying on technology that’s OS-specific. Open up the system in order it works with other systems. Why? It means more customers. 

If the only hurdles are the cost of software and servers, think about how much money was spent on Waterworld. Spare your customers another mega-motion picture failure and, instead, recreate your business model. In the end that would truly be great movie magic.