How I wasted 140 minutes: the case for customer service systems

This is a story about wasted time. You know … those minutes you’ll never get back. And it’s wasted because nothing useful happens during those minutes, which quickly turn into hours. You probably didn’t even relax because you were so stressed you were wasting time.

Here’s my tale of woe

It began the moment I wanted to scan multiple pages with my new scanner. Easy right? That’s what I though too. It turned out, it wasn’t as straightforward as I would have expected. Don’t get me wrong, I love my new scanner, it’s just this little issue that I needed to figure out. How hard could it be? I was about to find out.

Five attempts to solve the problem

Attempt 1: I tried to figure it out myself. I used the Help feature within the software, but what it was showing me and what was actually displayed on my computer screen were two different things.
Result: Fail.
Wasted time: 60 minutes

Attempt 2: I then visited the company’s website and went straight to the Support section. I knew I didn’t want to spend a lot of time reading to see if anyone else had the same problem. So I did a quick check. No one did. So I left.
Result: Fail
Wasted time: 10 minutes

Attempt 3: Okay, now I needed to speak to someone. At this point I was getting pretty frustrated. I mean, this isn’t rocket science. Scanning multiple pages shouldn’t be so difficult. Maybe it was me. Was I that dumb? Nah! So I went back to the website to find the phone number. Not an easy task. Many companies love to hide that kind of detail, so I had to dig a little
Result: Success
Wasted time: 10 minutes.

Attempt 4: I called the customer support line and sat on hold for a VERY long time. Finally, someone came on the line and tried to help me. I described my problem at great length. We tried a variety of things to solve the problem. We even uninstalled and re-installed the software. Nothing worked. So he referred me to the More Technical Guy. Great, I thought. Nope. I sat on hold again.
Result: Fail
Wasted time: 40 minutes

Attempt 5: The More Technical Guy asked me what the problem was, at which point I got a little annoyed because I had hoped they had tracked this in my file. I repeated the problem, we tried a few things, still nothing worked. Finally, he used a program that took control of my computer so he could play around with the software himself. Almost instantly he saw the problem and was able to fix it.
Result: Success
Wasted Time: 20 minutes

I wasted 140 minutes, almost 2.5 hours, of my time. The company also wasted almost an hour of their time trying to solve the problem, before they finally figured it out.

The moral of the story

So what’s the moral of this story? If we could have skipped to the end where they had taken control of my computer, the problem would have been solved in much less time. More importantly, I would have been really impressed and happy with the quality of customer service I had received. This would have translated into repeat business and me referring the scanner to my friends, rather than writing a blog about the dismal experience.

Do you have systems in place?

So I ask you this: Have you thought about the systems you have in place to address customer inquiries? If I were to call you today with an issue I was having, what’s the process you have for addressing my concern? How can I reach you? What’s your guaranteed response time? Who responds, you or someone else on your team? How is my concern tracked so I don’t have to repeat myself. How do you follow up with me?

There are a ton of things you need to think about when you’re developing your customer service systems. My advice is don’t wait until one of your clients has a problem to figure it all out. Be proactive. If you wait, you’re likely to stumble along the way, and it’s your reputation and potential business that’s on the line.

Nothing resonates more with people than receiving helpful and friendly customer service. So take the steps necessary to make sure all your clients have a great experience with you and your business. Trust me, it’s time well spent.

What’s your customer service system? How do you deal with client concerns? Leave your comments below and continue the conversation.


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