by Mike Masnick

Customer Support Emails Way Too Easy To Ignore

from the we're-supposed-to-respond? dept

It appears that very little is changing in the world of online customer support. Over the past year study after study has shown that companies are incredibly bad at replying to customer support emails -- even when they're super fast at replying to sales inquiries. The reasoning behind this is ridiculous, of course. Customers are already paying you money, and therefore probably should be treated even better, so that you don't lose them. In fact, the latest study along these lines has found that, with especially desirable demographics, if you don't respond quickly they'll move on to your competitors -- even completely ignoring email responses that come in late. The company who did this study points out that the excuse companies use is bogus: "we get too many emails." They ask if that same company would tell people who walk in the door or who call that they'll get back to them in three or four days (though, there have been cases where I've called customer support and been told that the queue is too long, and am given no option to hold or leave a message, but just to call back later). Either way, it appears that part of this is due to the focus on "growth." That emphasizes the role of sales, compared to the role of customer support. Losing an existing customer who has been paying you money because you spent more resources trying to find new people to give you money sounds like a bad way to build a business. Customer acquisition is difficult. Keeping existing customers happy shouldn't be.

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  • icon
    Richard Cohen (profile), 21 Apr 2005 @ 11:17am


    I have had dealings with two companies this week by email - neither being on the same continent as me. The two companies were Lik-Sang (a question about something bought from their German office but not received) and Mobility Electronics, aka iGo (a question about buying a replacement part without paying extortionate trans-Atlantic shipping charges). In both cases the responses were quick - well within the day - accurate and helpful and was easily enough to retain me as a happy customer - enough for me to want to commend them on their service. Mobility, in particular, deserve mucho credit for going far beyond the call of customer service.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    eskayp, 21 Apr 2005 @ 8:24pm

    No Subject Given

    Maybe the time has come to contact the sales department,
    tell them you are interested in upgrading to the latest, greatest application or hardware,
    but that whether you stick with them or migrate to a competitor will be influenced by
    how well they handle your problem with the current version, bought from them.
    The idiots might then make the connection; not that they would actually DO anything about it.
    Too many sales 'professionals' consider themselves much smarter than us clueless users.
    Their worldview is cynical, to say the least.
    'Sales' is viewed as THE revenue source, while support is viewed as an expense center.
    In their view prospective 'new' money is worth more than proven 'old' money.
    They much prefer the bird in the bush over the two in the hand.
    Not having a lot of IT problems (LINUX) I see it most with magazine subscription renewals.
    I have lost count of the times I have dropped and resubscribed
    to get the 'new' bargain instead of the 'old' full-bore price.
    Perhaps the publishers and other marketing centric businesses prefer it that way;
    all those 'new' accounts give the illusion of 'growth' and help boost the stock price.
    I agree that their practices are irritating enough to drive good customers away,
    but I have little hope for them to remedy the sad situation.
    As usual, Mike has found fertile ground for some rants.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Sun Kim, 13 Oct 2005 @ 5:44pm

      Re: No Subject Given

      Someone who is price conscious is not after service as their main priority. Everybody wants champagne service on a beer budget. Lik-Sang offers good service, but their prices also reflect that. You can find the same products cheaper in the United States, but you are likely to buy from a company that has razor thin margins. If a customer is loyal to price, there is no point in providing good to excellent service to keep him or her as a customer.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    jaded, 14 Oct 2005 @ 10:15am

    Can you tell my company that?

    I work for a fairly small VAR. In sales. My company always says when you guys sell more we will add more support people, right now our case load is too small. Then why does it take an average of 15 days to solve issues?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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