Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Web 2.0 Customer Service

I have noticed an annoying pattern in companies that claim to be Web 2.0 oriented. They seem to be copying the poor customer service techniques of the Web 1.0 generation.

In the last several weeks I have contacted the customer service department web sites of three different companies, which I will leave nameless. I did get a response from each one, but none answered the specific question I asked. Instead, whichever "representative" was in charge of responding to my request gave a response which merely included text that related to my question. For example, one question I asked was where to find out how miscellaneous "fees" charged to an account were calculated. The representative responded with a block of text explaining that from time to time various fees will be charged, and it listed what the names of the fees along with a brief definition of each one (all of this information was already present on their web site FAQ page by the way). But there was no explanation of how they were calculated, which is what I had asked in the particular request, since that information was not answered in their FAQ.

Why have companies decided this is an acceptable way to handle customer service? It's almost as if during training representatives are told "whatever you do, don't answer their specific question- instead, just give them some information related to their inquiry." Imagine if you just moved and you called your phone company because you couldn't remember your new phone number. What if instead of telling you what it was, they just told you that the Yellow Pages is a helpful place to find phone numbers you need? It sounds ludicrous, but that is the unfortunate approach that original Internet companies took to customer support, and it seems a number of Web 2.0 companies are prepared to let history repeat itself.

I understand we live in a world where it seems the customer is no longer always right. But does that mean customers need be treated like idiots? I don't know, but as a part of Rokland LLC, the parent company of, I know we would never even think of treating our customers in this manner.

No comments: