I was in for an unpleasant surprise today when I tried to use Microsoft Word on my iMac. I received an error message that the application wouldn’t open. Nuts!
I envisioned calling Microsoft and going through menu hell. You know, you’ve been there. You call customer service and spend 10 minutes being shunted from menu to menu and none of the options quite fits your problem.
Then I Met Maya
I screwed up my courage and called Microsoft, expecting the worst. True, I was greeted by a recorded voice offering several options including “technical support.” Next, I was asked if I needed support for Office on a Mac or PC. I chose Mac and was immediately connected to Maya.
I fully expected that she would ask me to reinstall the Office software so I had my backup disc ready. Not so fast. First, she asked about the problem and we tried a couple of things when she suggested that I allow her to access my computer.
I honestly love when they ask that because I’m all thumbs when it comes to following instructions on the phone. We immediately went to Applications and then Office. She scrolled down a long list of what I consider gibberish and zeroed in on one line. She asked me to delete it, which I did.
Voila! Problem Fixed.
That’s Not All
Then Maya asked if I had had to wait a long time before I was connected to her. I said “no.” Did I find the experience pleasant or difficult? It was “fine,” I said. Then she asked if I would mind her connecting me to a subject matter expert who wanted to evaluate my experience even further.
I was introduced to another technical support rep. She, too, wanted to know if I had a satisfactory experience. I answered “yes.”
Why not? I could use Word again.
Here is the kicker:
She told me I could email Maya directly the next time I had a problem and bypass calling Microsoft technical support! Am I in a dream? Did this really happen? Yes!!
A Lesson For Other Companies
Customer service can make or break a brand, or at least tarnish it if you have a bad experience.
If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know that I’ve kvetched about customer service problems in other posts. I got into a lengthy discussion with a Hertz representative in my comments section about the impenetrable website for their car sharing service.
I chastised Home Depot when they wouldn’t cut a piece of baseboard so could take it home on public transportation or a taxi (I live in Manhattan), but they will cut it for you if you live in the ‘burbs where nearly everybody owns an SUV.
I got into a long discussion with Samsung when they claimed the TV I had bought wasn’t a TV – really.
If you own or work for a consumer products company I have some advice: follow the new Microsoft model and pride yourself on customer service.
In the past I didn’t receive such personalized service when I called Microsoft tech support.
That’s back when the company was the elephant in the room before it was muscled out by new goliaths like Google and Apple. Microsoft played the heavy when it was riding high and hurt its brand. It’s now playing catch-up in a new Internet world.
But why wait until your service deteriorates? I’m still enraged when company websites don’t list a telephone number to call when you have a problem.
They force you to email them or, worse yet, refer you to their customer support forums. There you’re supposed to get answers to your questions from other knowledgeable customers.
Did you ever notice there are almost all questions, and hardly any answers? And why should they shunt the responsibility off to other customers who may not know as much you do?
I want to give credit where credit is due. A friend who had moved was unable to reach AT&T on the phone when he had a problem with his telephone installation. I sent a tweet to AT&T’s customer care account on Twitter and within minutes an AT&T rep monitoring the site had called my friend.
I find myself increasingly turning to Twitter customer service accounts for help. No menus to navigate. No long wait times.
Companies need to stand behind their brands and make it easy for customers to get help when things go wrong. Being shunted off to the menu merry-go-round is the equivalent of ditching your customers at the exact moment they are most vulnerable.
I sure don’t like it and nobody I know does either.