The story of a confusing customer support experience which left one man particularly frustrated.
Customer support is critical to keeping your customers happy, but it's sometimes one of the last things a small business thinks about. Below is a great example of a classic problem from the pages of PC & Tech Authority magazine - when the customer's problem doesn't have a handy pre-determined answer. We've posted an edited excerpt here.
When you’re buying a product or service from a company, you’re also buying a relationship with the company. Like any good relationship, communication is the key to having a happy and harmonious experience.
So if one party gives you the silent treatment or isn’t forthcoming with important information or doesn’t make their expectations clear, things can take a turn for the worse. And long-distance relationships are just that much harder to sustain.
It’s a lot like any relationship in real life, actually, and when it goes wrong, it can be just as awkward - for both parties!
George wrote to us because he had trouble upgrading his Video Studio software because it wouldn’t accept the serial number. He said that although Corel graphics programs are first class and he’s been a long time supporter of their products, this time he found it almost impossible to get help or information.
“I followed the instructions and downloaded and tried to install. It all went okay until I tried to register. It refused to accept the serial number, which was the right one, and when I tried to contact support I was asked for a reference number which I didn’t have because I hadn’t even been able to register.”
George said that he would love to be able to get this latest version of Video Studio for his video work, but he couldn’t get the help he needed after lengthy wait time on the phone.
The Corel Asia-Pacific rep recently left Corel so we contacted the US rep and asked for them to look into George’s situation. The media representative liaised with the customer service manager and looked into George’s situation.
“The update looked as though it would give me some extra features that would be very useful. Since you started investigating for me I have tried to download the update again in case we get this sorted but have had no luck.”
The company said that its records show that a refund was given for VideoStudio ProX6 and that a refund had also been processed for the X4 version a couple of years ago. It said that he couldn’t upgrade after a refund had been processed.
George confirmed that he had been given a refund for the X6 because it didn’t process. “I signed up and download the update only to find it didn’t work and I couldn’t find anyone to talk to about why it didn’t upgrade. I was under the impression from their web page that I was upgrading to X6 from X4, but of course that never happened. In frustration I eventually requested a refund which was eventually given. As for X4, I have the original disk still installed on the computer that I sought to upgrade on. That disk was supplied by the local rep at the time along with X5 later (both original disks) to me for review purposes.”
Corel has since been in contact with George directly from the US and a follow-up email to get things started. The company offered to do a remote run on the computer to ensure that it was installed properly and he could use the software. It’s now working fine.
The point of this is that if he’d been able to get more information, the confusion over updates and refunds could have been sorted out.
A lot of consumer angst could be avoided if customer service was better able to answer people’s queries and solve their problems, instead of sending canned responses or letting problems fall through the cracks because they can’t neatly be addressed with predetermined answers.
Consumers feel ignored and rightly angry when things don’t work, they’re left with no redress apart from seeking a refund, and they end up without what they need. It takes time to fix some issues and this costs money.
Apple and its Genius Bars is a move against this trend, and other tech brands could take note that money spent on sorting out customer problems is money well invested. Even the big banks, after years of turning away from person-to-person help, have realised there’s value in human help. One can only hope that this trend becomes more widespread in pace with our growing dependence on technology vendors.
A happy customer is a quiet customer, because they’re busy using their new toy and not writing on forums or to magazines to seek help.