Monday, February 27, 2012 Customer Support: Round 2 - FAIL

So I spent the better part of this last week playing phone and email tag with customer support. As noted in my previous post, Customer Service: Transforming Strategic Service Tiers Into Service That Sucks, I started the week with an issue and since that time I have learned the following:
  •'s standard tier of customer support has been outsourced.
  • standard tier customer support is happy to work with you during their business hours which generally seem to run from about 7:45am to 5:00pm CST -- kind of funny when you consider that both Salesforce and I are located in the San Francisco Bay Area (that's 5:45am -3:00pm PST for you math challenged kids at home). What happened to working with the customer as though you were within their time zone? Or at least having customer service people who understood what time zone you were in?
  • If two cases are created and you receive a response from two different customer service people, simply using a cloud-based platform for service and support doesn't mean that they will consolidate your case, give you one contact point, or solve the issue using 'the wisdom of crowds'. Twice the fail, Slow and Slower response.
  • When your end solution is to direct your customer back to their account rep that created the case for help, you have probably failed.  
As I mentioned in my previous post, once upon a time support wasn't this crappy. It used to be that when you called customer support, you felt like you were talking to someone working in a Bay Area office who probably had as much expertise with the platform (and with the various technology interconnects) as you did -- probably more. During this round, I have found myself dealing with customer service reps who seemed at best capable of running me through the "is my computer plugged in" script and searching their canned solutions for an answer. Not really the kind of support you'd expect when your the admin for a complex, integrated enterprise software platform.

I'm not sure when or where their support passed the milestone from "great restaurant" to "Kitchen Nightmare". It's not like there was some well-published devolution. It's not like everyone I've met, when the discussion of comes up says, "yes, but my god their service and support sucks." Instead, it seems likely that the erosion was taking place behind the scenes, away from the shiny new features that we often get caught up in.

When you use the platform all of the time -- and it mostly just works like it's supposed to -- you don't ask questions, don't raise your voice. A perfect example is help and training -- once upon a time, I used to refer users to the 'Help and Training' section, told them that there were tons of free online training vids to help them understand the application and it's capabilities. Recently, when I went back to look for them, they are all gone -- replaced by training that you must pay for.

The erosion of aspects of the platform like this, it may not affect the core value of the product, but it moves away from one of their old marketing themes. Remember when was focused on making you, their customer, successful. Somewhere in all of the upgrades to 'The Social Enterprise', they seem to have lost backward compatibility with customer success. They also seem to have chopped out some of the support from my word-of-mouth evangelism platform.

No comments: