24 Sep 2008 10:33 am   //   Filed under: Technology

Good customer service

Sorry for the lack of activity. This blog and all of daryllang.com site was offline for most of Tuesday and this morning. My service provider blamed the outage on a hardware failure.

This got me thinking about how companies handle problems. A few months ago, United Airlines lost my suitcase. Every airline employee I spoke to, either at the airport or over the phone, seemed to be reading from a script carefully engineered to deliver no actual information. “We’re sorry and we’re looking into it.” The only source of real information was a computerized phone prompt. In the end, my bag was delivered to my hotel in a reasonable amount of time, problem solved. I still felt annoyed.

Compare this to OLM, the hosting company I have been using for this site since 2001. Whenever there’s a problem, I can reach a tech support person by phone right away. And whoever answers ALWAYS knows exactly what’s up and gives me a clear, professional answer to my question. Even when the problem is OLM’s fault, I have never felt annoyed at this company.

The lesson? Like most people, I’m much more willing to forgive the occasional mistake (like a service outage) when I hear an empathetic, expert-level human tell me exactly what caused the problem and how they’re going to fix it. It’s so simple, but it’s amazing how many companies get this wrong.