I have been thinking a bit lately about the importance of Customer Service. Recently, my husband and I purchased a Husqvarna lawn mower whose engine blew up after only seven uses following by-the-book protocols for operation. Despite having a two year warranty on the mower, Husqvarna denied our claim using an excuse that the engine was “insufficiently lubricated”, which it no doubt was after going one month with a crack in the engine block before they could be bothered to look at it. After submitting a feedback e-mail, Facebook Wall Post and Tweeting at the offending company about their bait-and-switch tactics, we have received radio silence. It is clear how little this company values its customers, and as such we will never spend a dime on one of their products again.
In my professional life, I have also recently experienced the customer service run around by two different companies within the financial technology sector. One of them at least answers your phone calls and e-mails, but appears to start every inquiry at help desk level 1, despite the problems being more advanced. Every step in troubleshooting involves trying to convince the person you are speaking with to move you up the chain where you need to be; it’s an exercise in negotiation and patience. The second company appears to only respond via an automated e-mail ticketing system, which takes at least two days to process inquiries before giving you a ticket number and telling you someone will call you back soon, reassuring you that your call is important.
If I provided the level of customer service I have been receiving from these vendors at my company, I would be fired on the spot. Customer service is one of our strongest attributes, and is one of the most frequently praised aspects from our newest customers after making the transition from one of our competitors to us.
It may seem old fashioned, but Customer Service is important, particularly in the technology industry. For every SAAS vendor, there are at least 10 other vendors or apps that are eating away at your market, attempting to take away your customers. Technology also has a reputation, well deserved or not, for not being the easiest of fields to work with if you are an average Joe or Jane. People enjoy calling tech support or customer service for their technology about as much as they enjoy root canals.
As important as it is, customer service alone cannot sell your product, especially to the Millennial generation. Millennials are tech natives, and they want their technology to work and do what they need it to do. Providing an inferior product but trying to make up for it with great customer service will get you no where with this demographic, who will simply move on to a competitor that can do what they need the tech to do. But all tech being equal, remembering that your customers write your paychecks will go a long way in making you the preferred choice in any round of vendor shopping.