After reading "Inside the Magic Kingdom" by Tom Connellan I realized that Customer Service is what distinguishes Companies from each other. So I started thinking which of the Internet companies have I used and continued to use based on their Customer Service.
Before I begin let’s examination how an Internet based company can lend itself to Customer Service. The first and only way is by Communication. Now that Communication can take several forms; a phone number with a live person or without, surveys and just regular emails keeping you informed. What it should not be are line items on your monthly credit card statement, or an avalanche of trial offers via the post or emails!
I will cover two good examples and several bad examples. By the way I warned the bad examples that I would be using them as "Bad Examples" and still no response… Go figure!
Netflix.com – They tell you when a movie is received and when it shipped with an estimated arrival date. Great, but real Customer Service is what they do when something goes wrong! I did receive a damaged DVD once and on their website is a place to report it. Once it was reported they shipped a replacement even before I sent the damaged one back. No questions, No Problems. Another time the shipping center that we normally deal with did not have a requested DVD in stock so they sent the next one in my Queue, while they searched and found the requested one. They shipped both and informed me of the issue via email.
SingingBearsOnline.com – A small firm that sells Toy Bears. Roz likes to list her telephone number on the site so she can speak with her customers whether they have something good to say, a question or a problem.
A certain "Professor" – First they charged my credit card the wrong amount after 4 months I am still waiting for my $75 check. Needless to say I cancelled the account once I found out that they would be billing me monthly. I guess I missed that in the fine print. Still they charged me for shipping on the second month. When I called about that the representative blamed it on the previous person I spoke to and I believe the account got cancelled but I am still waiting for that refund too! Now when I call, it’s becomes a game when I’m bored, they place me on hold until I hang up or take my number (Due to large a large volume of calls) and will call me back. Guess what. Still no call back. So will I ever recommend this company to my friends or my clients?
Spoke.com – This company is the most frustrating. They have not taken any money from me but have hurt my company’s reputation, which I guess is about the same thing. One day I got a Google Alert that a new page was indexed that mentioned Lone Keep Internet on it. I took a look and found a person listed who has never worked for my company as being the Vice-President! I emailed him and Spoke.com about this error and did not receive word from either. So I placed my profile Spoke.com hoping to make myself legit in their eyes and still nothing! Turns out there are 19 Co-workers listed on their site of which only one is real and she did not create her profile there. Someone else created it for her! They have no phone number listed so no human contact and they have not responded to my filling out their support requests except to find out if I wanted to upgrade my account to a paid account?!?!?!!?
State of New Jersey – Don’t even get me started! This website is supposed to make it easier to deal with the State. If anyone has found it easier concerning any kind of problem let me know and I will do an entry on that!
So in conclusion "Is customer service still needed in this age of the Internet?" The answer is yes but as in Brick & Mortar Businesses most do not have a clue on how to do it…