[caption id="attachment_280" align="alignright" width="300" caption="This is me with customer support rage"][/caption]
I am employed by a software company. Offering great customer support is baked into our culture. So when I go out and purchase other software services, I (foolishly) expect to receive the same level of service that we offer our customers. And then reality slaps me in the face. This is the story of my yesterday.
It all started with a note from our bookkeeper: "Please get the August invoice for this software you use." It's a web application based on the subscription model. Every month our credit card is charged automatically. So I log in to find the invoice. I can't find it anywhere. I hunt for about 15 minutes, before thinking: "I'll just contact the company and ask them."
Contacting the company is nearly impossible. I look for a contact page. None. I click the "Help" link looking for an email address, email form, or phone number that I can use to contact support. Nothing. Instead it takes me to page that looks an awful lot like an online forum, with a button that says: Start a discussion. Does that mean my support request will be public? No thank you.
I decided to search Twitter to see if the company had an account. Yes! I sent a tweet: "How do I view the invoices (bills) for my account? #frustrated" And then I waited. Hours of waiting later, and no response, I decided to go back to their website.
I found a toll-free number hidden on their Billing Setup page. It was like winning the lottery. I triumphantly lifted my handset and dialed the number. An automated lady voice told me I could push "1 for Sales and 2 for Support." I hit 2, thinking I would finally speak to a real person. I got a voicemail box. Unbelievable.
I waited another 30 minutes before finally succumbing to using their "Start a discussion" option on their support page. Thankfully, my request is not made public, as I'd feared it might. Immediately, I get sent this email:
This is a robot response from [company name redacted].
We try and respond to our support requests within 24 hours on business days.
We'll send an email to you when we update your support request.
Robot response? We'll get back to you within 24 hours? Is this company for real? Do they realize how badly they look? Do they realize how they're making me feel as a customer?
Mercifully, a fellow named Jason emails me 8 minutes later. Yes, he had seen my tweet 3 hours earlier, received my phone call message, and was just now able to follow-up with me. He emails me the invoice. Thank you Jason.
This company failed. I love the product, but contacting support was so frustrating that I'm thinking about cancelling my subscription. Here's what web based companies should be doing: