Great customer service

by Michael Alderete on 7/23/2004

Just this last week I had two great customer service experiences. With all the horrible customer service most companies provide, via outsourced call centers or worse, the great companies deserve to be noticed and praised, and patronized.

First, my DSL connection went out. Rochelle got me out of bed early Sunday with a “Honey, is the internet working?” After a couple of quick tests, it was clear the problem wasn’t on my end. I called our DSL provider, Speakeasy, and opened a trouble ticket.

What was remarkable was that (a) I didn’t wait on hold for more than 2 minutes before I spoke with the first human being. And (b), she was the only person I spoke to, because instead of being an idiot reading from a script and telling me to power cycle my computer / router / coffee maker, she knew her shit, and we quickly ran through real troubleshooting steps that allowed her to isolate the issue to being outside my network. She wrote down my particulars, and told me what she was going to do, and how Speakeasy was going to get the problem solved.

Four hours later, Rochelle and I were taking an afternoon nap (it was Sunday), and we got a phone call. Speakeasy, letting us know that they had found a bad circuit card in the network center, and replaced it. Would we try our connection and see if things were working again? Sure enough, everything was good.

Not 10 minutes later, I received an e-mail message asking me to rate my recent ticket support. Speakeasy follows up every trouble ticket to ask you how they did. They are not afraid of getting feedback, because they work very hard to make sure it will always be positive. And I gave them the top rating across the board, because they’d earned it, by being quick, treating me like an intelligent person, and being proactive and following up, instead of just silently closing the ticket when they found and replaced the bad card. (It’s amazing how many companies close tickets when they find a problem, without checking back to see if it was the problem.)

My other great experience was simpler. I was working on some HTML pages for a web site for Rochelle, using the finest text editor available, BBEdit. And, when trying to select a menu choice I’ve used many times before, the item was grayed out, inactive. I tried a bunch of things, and couldn’t figure it out. So, on a Saturday, I sent off an e-mail inquiry to Bare Bones Software‘s technical support. Less than a day later, still on the weekend, I got back an e-mail from the director of technical support, which not only had the answer, but also guessed (correctly) at how it had happened. It turns out that a third-party plug-in I had recently installed does something bad, and that bad thing has the effect of disabling the command I wanted.

So (a) they knew exactly what the problem was immediately, and (b) the problem wasn’t created by Bare Bones, but they addressed it anyway. That’s great customer service.

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Good experience with SBC Yahoo! technical support

by Michael Alderete on 12/23/2003

Helping a friend set up his new 20” iMac at his house yesterday, we had occasion to call SBC Yahoo!, his internet service provider (ISP), to collect some technical details and verify the correct settings for accessing the e-mail account that goes with the service.

I resisted calling them until I couldn’t think of anything else to do, because my experience with large ISP’s technical support is that it is universally abysmal. But now I have to retract that, because we got through to a tech almost immediately (less than 2 minutes from dialing), and Gail was friendly, helpful, and extremely competent.

My usual experience is you wade through the phone tree and then hold for 20 minutes, only to have someone reading a script tell you to power cycle your Xmas tree lights. In this case, Gail answered all of our questions quickly, specifically, and correctly, before my usual hold time was up.

PacBell’s DSL experience used to be terrible, so something more than just changing their name (to SBC) has happened to improve the service — probably the influence of Yahoo!. If you’re thinking about getting broadband internet service, the SBC Yahoo! pricing is excellent, and I can definitely endorse their tech support.

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