Saturday, March 30, 2013

Hit Shappens

Having been in this business for a very long time I can safely say I have seen the best and the worst in customer service and support.  The best doesn't always come from the biggest or the smallest, nor does the worst.

Let me give you some historical examples from my own career.

The worst:

  • I bought a cell phone from a national provider at a Kiosk on an Air Force Base.  When I got home I tried to make a few calls and it didn't work very well, so I went back to the Kiosk where I bought it and they couldn't take returns, I had to go to one of their main stores...Air Force bases in general are not in major metropolitan areas so it was some drive to get to a "main store".  When I arrived they wouldn't give me a full refund because I had incurred some charges.  I said I had tried to use the phone but couldn't connect from my house, that I had called a few numbers and while it did ring on a couple of them I couldn't hear them or they me.  I then found out that although they had a Kiosk and sold phones on the base they "didn't have coverage on most of the base."  Two months of fighting with these bastards, who btw have since been acquired by someone else, I got my money back.  The "Charges" were roaming charges since they didn't have coverage.
  • As CTO of a company you would think if I called my own Tech Support I would get at least a reasonable response to a request.  Well at a former Corporation where I was CTO (been many so no guessing which one) I remember when the head of customer support implemented a system that provided the tech support people with call tracking and scripts to handle many if not most likely support calls.  The Tech Support person was polite and professional and absolutely no help....the "problem" I was experiencing wasn't in his scripts, and he had interpreted the "guidelines" as rigid limitations so the only answer he had was "not supported at this time."
The best:

  • We are building a very large SaaS application using one of our partner's technology WorkXpress and since we were stretching the limits of their tools (or usually our knowledge of the tools) we were making almost daily tech support calls.  The folks at WorkXpress were always very responsive and helpful and not dismissive with responses like "Read the *&%^% Documentation" that I have found even from some of the big boys.  But that wasn't enough and we were "escalating" occasionally.  Their CTO took over tech support and while we could still call their help desk with minor problems he was also on call (asynchronously due to time zones) and has even recorded videos on the tougher solutions.
  • Just recently we lost our demo server hosted on our Infrastructure as a Service partner ProfitBricks.  The loss was a combination of human errors on both our parts, a perfect storm of misunderstanding and perfectly logical actions on both sides...."Hit Shappens" What they did about it was the difference.  Instead of finger pointing and excuses and "live with it" because we were definitely partly to blame, they went the extra mile and their CEO called me and explained what happened which I had already drawn the same conclusion, and he volunteered for his staff to recreate the instances we needed and give us a credit double the cost of the lost service.  All we had to do was tell them what we had on the instances and they would do the work!
Now I have been in this business a long time (wrote my first program on punched paper tape in 1970) and I have seen the best and the worst tech support and customer relations and I am proud to say two of our partners are definitely in the "Best" category.  Thank you!



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