I was tempted to title this post Why Apple Sucks, but I guess that wouldn’t be original at all. What more my point isn’t really about Apple itself but about specific behaviors which I recently experienced.
OK, you’ve heard stories about Genius Bars and how they’re great idea not only in terms of customer satisfaction but also in terms of building revenue from cross-selling. I did too. So what’s the point?
Apple support isn’t just Genius Bars. They also have support team. You know, folks who answer your emails whenever you’re forced to use contact form. And they suck. So far every answer we got from them could be classified as F You message.
“No, you can’t pay us the safe way. F You. No, we can’t change the data on the invoice to whatever you’ve submitted in the form. F You. No, we don’t care if email is accepted as credible invoice in your country. F You.”
Don’t take that as Apple rant. I really can’t think of any big company which has great customer service. By the way, please point one in comment if you know any. This isn’t without a reason. It is so because great customer service just doesn’t scale up.
If you’re Google or Amazon or eBay you can’t have some real person being an account manager or customer support specialist for every single user which happen to use the site/product. You don’t want people to skip official support channel bothering directly your customer support forces. You want to isolate customers from knowledgeable guys or they won’t have time to do the real work.
What can you do if you really care then?
Keep your promises
If you promise something more than typical F-You-level service, work hard to fulfill your promise. If you promise me best customer service in the whole internet I expect you will go an extra mile for me. It’s not enough that you sign your F You email with the real name instead of “Best regards, Support Team.”
Make it quick
You want it or not you will be forced to send out a lot of F You answers. The least you can do is you can send out those messages as soon as possible. Don’t make them waiting. If your team can’t deal with load of inquiries hire more people or buy/build a piece of software to automate the process. After all, F You message received from bot works exactly as well as one sent by human.
Say you’re sorry
All these problems are because of procedures you have to follow, I know. The world is about procedures. But show you share my pain. Even if you don’t. Actually I know you don’t but I don’t care. Some compassion still helps a little bit.
Answer, for god’s sake
If I wrote to you it means a couple of things. One, I’m your user. Two, I care enough to take some effort to find your contact form and submit an issue. This puts me ahead of majority of your users who would just silently walk away facing similar situation. The absolute minimum is F You email as a response. Of course I expect more, but if you do less I’m out. You’ve just lost a customer. One from the top half. By the way that’s exactly how Technorati lost me as their user.
Get passionate people to work in support
One of the best experiences I got in terms of customer support was when people from product team commented under my rants about their products. They had Google Alerts set to check what people write about the product. And they took effort to answer even though it wasn’t really official support issue.
Have any other ideas how to build decent customer support team? Please share in comments.