Great Product, Lousy Service, No Sale!


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Usually, I try to minimize my whining about poor sales and customer service experiences, however, every once in a while, I can’t help a short rant.

Imagine this, a company has spent money trying to attract my interest in their online backup/synchronization service, they’ve sent appropriate emails, provided good marketing information. I spent some time on the phone with a sales person, making sure I understood what I was buying. She handled all my questions and concerns skillfully and politely. In the end, she asked if she had addressed all my concerns. I responded that I had, and agreed to subscribe to this servic and finally made the decision to subscribe.

The start up was easy, I start uploading my files and learning more about the product. After a couple of days, I noticed some minor problems and went to the help center to try to understand what I was doing wrong. I scoured the online forums and knowledge centers, applying the suggestions made in various papers at the knowledge center. None worked, I was a little annoyed, but still wanted to solve the problem and use the product. I decided to go to their “On-line Chat.” Upon clicking the “chat” button, I was directed to the customer login screen. I thought it a little odd, since I was already signed in, but signed in again. The chat screen popped up, I clicked on the “chat” button again. You guessed it, I was, once more requested to sign in. I was in sign in hell for abut 5 cycles, until I gave up and decided to go to phone support. I clicked the link to get to phone support, and that old familiar sign in screen appeared again. Yes, you’ve guessed it, I went through sign in hell to get to the phone support section for about another 5 cycles.

By this time, what had been a minor annoyance had turned into a big problem. I tried exercising all the support options I could, all with the same result, an endless cycle of sign-in’s. Whenever, I encounter problems like this, I always assume it’s me–that some how I am doing something wrong. I’ve learned, when in doubt, always google it. On googling my issue, I found a number of other people with similar issues, and a number of complaints about the extremely poor customer service from this vendor. It seems many people felt the same as I did, the product/service had great potential, but the lack of customer service drove people away.

By this time, I had just about exhausted my options, and I was so frustrated I was about to give up. I finally went to their forum, opened a new discussion on my problem, seeing if someone might respond to it, that was on October 27. After a couple of days, no news, I still had a problem that impacted the value of the service, so I cancelled my subscription. The vendor had a nice survey, “We’re disappointed to see you leave, could you tell us why?” I responded to the questions in the survey, explaining I had high hopes for the product, but the absence of customer service and the inability to get support to solve my problem caused me to cancel.

I assumed the issue was over until November 23, when I get an email from customer support. They apologize for being slow to respond, explaining they don’t normally monitor their discussion forums…… Hmmmmm. They point me at all the solutions I had exhausted a month earlier. Since I had cancelled the service, I just ignored the email. That is until November 27, when I learned they were annoyed with my lack of response, and sent me the following:

“We have not heard from you concerning your request for support in the 80 hours since we sent you a response. Consequently, we have changed the status of the question to SOLVED.”

“Hmmm,” I thought, “they seem a little testy, I guess I haven’t fulfilled my responsibilities as a former customer.” The original response, some 672 hours after my requestdid not seem to indicate I had to respond. It just pointed me to the resources I had used before. In fact it lightly chastised me for not using the chat or phone functions (never knowing the death cycle I had encountered a month earlier). I fired back a polite but terse note to the support team, copying the CEO, explaining this story, re-affirming my confidence in my decision to cancel their service, and suggesting they might try to learn something about customer service.

So, there is a purpose to my whining. Our organizatons spend a lot of marketing dollars attracting customers. Sales people spend time, answering questions, doing their jobs, working with prospects and closing deals. After all that hard work, it’s amazing how a simple lapse in customer service can turn all that around. Not only losing the sale–after it has been closed and paid for, but so angering customers that they start actively recommending against using the company’s services. Customer experience does not end at the close of the sale—that’s just the beginning. At that point prospects turned customers have high expectations for what they have just purchased.

Is your company losing sales after it has closed the deal?

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Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Brock
Dave has spent his career developing high performance organizations. He worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix and Keithley Instruments. His consulting clients include companies in the semiconductor, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, computer, telecommunications, retailing, internet, software, professional and financial services industries.


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