Tuesday, August 17, 2010

How NOT to Serve Customers

You may or may not have noticed that I've been a little slow to post lately. It's due to external circumstances, including the upgrade of my financial software. My Credit Union upgraded their website, which required that I upgrade my Quicken software, because they no longer support the version I was using.

The latest version is stripped of many features, so the one before that is actually better, as it is more complete. (How ridiculous is this? Is Quicken's owner just trying to get me to upgrade to the more expensive QuickBooks, which I don't really need, to get the features that used to be in Quicken? Note to self: anything entitled 'Essentials' means stripped.)

When you download Quicken for the Mac, you then have to download 2 patches! (Why couldn't they patch the program so you just have to download it?)

After I downloaded the software and installed it, and the patches and installed each of them. I was ready to use it. Worked fine with my other financial institutions -- just not with the Credit Union.

So I called the Credit Union, and input all my information into the phone tree system, only to have to give it all again when I got a human, who still had to direct me to another human, to whom I had to give all the information again. (If I give this information once, why do I have to give it two more times? Can't your computer system keep the info with my call? Or at least my name? Or my customer number?)

When I finally got the real technical support, I told them I thought this was their problem, because the software worked with every other institution but theirs. I even gave them the error number on the software. Of course, they made me go through a bunch of things to prove that I wasn't stupid and just doing things wrong. And each time, we came up with the same error number. Surprise, surprise.

So they said they had a problem, and would call me in 24 - 48 business hours, which sounds okay, but since they're only open 10 hours/day, that means 3 - 5 business days. (Does 3 - 5 business days sound like good customer service to you?) As that was the best they could do, I accepted that. (We'll call this Day 1.)

They called me on Day 5, and said that they still didn't have an answer for me, but would within 5 business days. They never called me again.

So on Day 11, I called them. (I should not have had to do this.)

I went through the whole phone tree and explaining my problem 3 times again -- even though I gave them the case number at the very beginning. The techie was useless. Worse than that, he told me that my case number had been labeled 'satisfied'. This infuriated me, as no one ever talked to me to give me information or find out if I was satisfied! (Don't ever label a customer trouble case satisfied without talking to the customer.) I asked to speak with his supervisor.

The supervisor was also useless, and told me it was my problem, and I had to work it out with Quicken. I told him it was a problem between their institution and Quicken, and suggested we all get on the phone together to resolve it. He told me it was impossible to call Quicken, so I should just do chat with them to resolve it. (Do you really believe that it wasn't possible for a corporate customer to call Quicken? I don't. And don't lie to your customer about what's possible -- see below.)

Chat is unbelievably slow, but there is actually an option on Quicken's website for them to call you, so I chose that, on Day 12. (It says they'll call within an hour, but it's actually two hours. (Don't promise what you can't deliver.)

A very nice Indian guy (in New Delhi), who said his name was Sammy, called me. We went through every possible thing that could be wrong with the software (bad data file, bad download, bad installation, etc.) for 2 hours, only to determine that this was not my problem, nor was it Quicken's. We even explored to see if there was a way to download the information from the Credit Union's website. Unfortunately, all that's possible is a spreadsheet download, and Quicken can't import spreadsheets.

I suggested that we call the Credit Union, which Sammy got permission to do from his supervisor. He conferenced me to a third line, dialed, and then I went through the whole rigamarole with all my info 4 more times, till I got to yet another useless tech support person. When I asked for his name, all he'd give me was his first name. When I asked for an extension, he wouldn't give me one. When I asked to speak to his supervisor, and his supervisor's name and extension, all he said was that his name was George, wouldn't give me a last name, or an extension, and George wasn't available, so could he put me through to voice mail? (Don't stonewall an obviously irate customer.) I said no, we were going to stay on the line until we got George, because I was on the phone with the Quicken guy from India, and this was the only way we could all talk, at least according to George. At this point, I'd been on the phone with Sammy for 3 hours. Mr. Stonewall just asked again to put me through to voice mail, at which point, I asked if he was even in the same building as his supervisor, so he could flag him down. More stonewall. At this point, I told him that if I were not on the phone with George in 60 seconds, my next call would be to the President of the Credit Union to complain, naming names. It took so long to get George that while Sammy and I were waiting, I used another phone to call the Credit Union, went through the whole phone tree, and was on the phone with the head of Customer Service (the President's assistant not being available) by the time George got on the phone.

Sammy politely explained, at least 3 times, that we'd been through every possible way that it could have been my fault, so he was completely sure that it wasn't my fault, or Quicken's. George actually heard this, and at this point, admitted that they knew this was a problem they were having! He told me he had no idea when it would be fixed. (!!!) When I pushed him, he told me that it was a '1', or highest priority to fix, and that it had been assigned to a team. (Since he didn't know when it would be fixed, he should have volunteered this info as a way to reassure me.)  He promised me daily updates on its status. He did not call me the next business day, but someone did call me this morning to say that it should be fixed within 48 hours, which would make it Day 17.

Sammy had been on the phone with me for almost 4 hours at this point, and I asked to speak to his supervisor to praise him. (I'm also sending a copy of this to one of my clients who works at Quicken.)

The Credit Union's head of Customer Service told me he'd follow up and make sure things were resolved within 2 -3 business days. We'll see if that happens. If not, you know who I'm calling -- the President of the Credit Union.

So, to sum up:
  • The new, upgraded version of software should actually work better than the previous versions. If it's not as good, the company is just ripping you off by withdrawing support for earlier version and thereby forcing you to upgrade.
  • Software you download from the company's website should work without patches.
  • You should only have to give your information once when reporting a problem.
  • Good customer service should have a reasonable time frame, like 24 hours, not 11 days.
  • Keep your promises -- if you say you'll call back in a day, do it. 
  • Do not label a customer problem satisfied without talking to the customer. Do not hope the customer will just go away if you do nothing.
  • Don't make the customer wrong when you know it's your problem. 
  • Don't lie to your customers about what's possible.
  • Don't stonewall an irate customer -- it will only enrage that customer more.

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