A Failure to Serve



By Peter L. DeHaan, PhD

Peter DeHaan, Publisher and Editor of Connections MagazineI often share customer service successes and failures in this column. Though my rants have a cathartic outcome for me, I hope even more that they offer insight to you and your call centers. Here’s my latest installment.

A year ago I finally had had enough with my Web hosting company. They matched their low prices with low performance: overloaded servers, sluggish performance, and increased downtime. After fourteen years of misplaced loyalty, I switched companies.

My new hosting provider charged more and promised more. At first they delivered. Despite that I had to manually migrate all my sites to their platform, their service pleased me—at first. But after a couple of months, their servers grew busier, my load times slowed, and outages occurred. I complained, and they sold me an upgrade. But the only difference I experienced was a higher bill.

I needed to take action—again.

A trusted friend highly recommended an alternative. I studied their website and found the perfect plan for my business, which offered more and charged less than my current provider. I checked their reviews and ratings: excellent. (My current and past provider had dismal reviews and ratings, despite their high-profile status.)

I got ready to change hosting providers. Here’s my log of what happened:

11:35 a.m.: I call their main number. I hear seven rings and then get a fast busy. I try twice more with the same results.

11:38 a.m.: I search their website for an email. Nothing. I fill out a trouble ticket for sales.

11:40 a.m.: I receive an automated response, with a link to check online for the status. It goes to a customer portal. I need to log in. But I’m not a customer, so I can’t.

11:48 a.m.: I get a personal email message from Chad. He offers me the option of an email or phone call. Chad doesn’t give his email address.

11:51 a.m.: I select the phone call option and request it after 1:00 p.m. My reply goes to their generic sales email.

12:18: p.m.: I receive a personal email from Patrick agreeing to a phone call. He doesn’t give his direct email address, but uses the generic sales email.

12:23 p.m.: I receive a Google calendar request from Patrick, but with a wrong phone number, which is my fault.

12:37 p.m.: I tentatively accept, and give the right number.

1:06 p.m.: Patrick calls the wrong number and leaves his phone number and extension.

2:09 p.m.: I call Patrick back. It rings fourteen times, and I hang up.

2:12 p.m.: I call their main number. I press 2 for sales, but I reach support. Support transfers me to sales. I talk to Jeff. He says they had phone problems that morning. The connection is bad. He cuts out once but comes back. Then I lose him for good.

3:00 p.m.: I notice in the Google calendar request that Patrick gave his email address. I email him asking for a call on my cell phone.

3:29 p.m.: Patrick calls me. We talk for twenty-nine minutes. He wins me over, and I sign up for service.How much business do companies lose because they do such a lousy job with phone support? Click To Tweet

This company has a compelling website that provided enough information to sell me, but I had a couple of essential questions before I committed. That’s when they almost lost me. And had I not been so desperate for a change and so short on solid options, I would have surely bailed long before Patrick talked to me and invested a half hour to resell me on their services.

I wonder how much business this company loses because it does such a lousy job with phone support.

(Post-sales update: Though they promised to migrate my sites for me, I spent most of a week and too much time making sure this happened correctly. Trying to communicate with the service department was almost as frustrating as working with sales had been. But in the end, my sites are humming along fine, faster than ever. And that was the whole point. Plus they provided me with fodder for another column and you with an example of bad phone support to avoid.)

Peter L. DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Connections Magazine, AnswerStat, TAS Trader, and Medical Call Center News, as well as a passionate wordsmith. Connect with him on his personal blogs, social media sites, and newsletter, all accessible from www.authorpeterdehaan.com.

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