I helped a friend out the other night who was using Verizon DSL and had recently magically became unable to send outgoing mail. This actually isn’t the first time I’ve heard of this problem in the area so I had a hunch that they were simply blocking port 25. I’m not going to get too technical here, but let’s just say we were able to determine this was the problem. After nearly an hour on the phone trying to explain this to a technician at Verizon, they continued to insist that it wasn’t their issue and that could no longer help us. Long story short we switched to cable internet that night and that resolved the issue.
A couple of nights later I had an issue with my Windows 7 license and though the Microsoft technician didn’t solve what I wanted, they were much better at customer service than Verizon. But I noticed what may be a new ‘buzzphrase’ and trend in corporate customer support (besides outsourcing it to India ((no offense, India)) )…
That new ‘buzzphrase’ was this: “So, before we proceed any further I want to set the expectations for this call.” Really? Set the expectations? If I’m calling Customer Service. It’s my expectation that you will FIX THE PROBLEM I’M CALLING ABOUT.
Immediately after hearing that phrase my brain started telling me that I just heard a cop out. It told me that they were going to go through the things that were in the manual, like asking me if I have my router plugged in or if I’ve rebooted the computer before. It also told me that this was the end of the line.
Contrast that with what folks like Frank at ComcastCares are doing. If I’m a Comcast user (which I’m not), I may still think Comcast sucks at the end of the day, but having someone who’s not reading from a script, but talking to me like I’m a human being will go a looooong way toward making me think that they suck less. I promise.
One final example. Last month I had issues with my hosting provider (Netfirms). After getting a not-so-fast response from their helpdesk line (phone), I sent out a Tweet regarding my problem. Almost immediately I got a response back from Netfirms’ rep on Twitter with an acknowledgement of my problem, the promise of a follow up (with ticket), and a speedy resolution. That, my friends was a kick-ass and unexpected surprise. They turned an angry customer into one that would still recommend their service to others.
If your business starts off a call with letting the customer know that they’re going to set expectations before they even start working on the problem, it’s probably not going to be a fun experience for your customer. But if you engage like a human being, give a crap and know that it’s the customer who is setting the expectation – you’ll fare much better (or at least make people dislike you a lot less).
Now more than ever it’s customer service that is going to make and break brands just by the nature of how conversation scales online.