What 9 Tech Companies Can Teach Us About Great Customer Service

November 23, 2015

5:00 pm

You’ve been there. Something’s not working right and you’re ready to lose your mind. Perhaps you were disconnected after holding for a support rep and listening to terrible music for twenty minutes. Or you received yet another cut-and-paste email that doesn’t answer your question. Fifty-seven percent of customers hang up the phone with an unresolved support issue and half leave a store because of poor service. You know the wrong way to do support from personal experience. Let’s talk about the right way. Here are nine examples of tech companies providing amazing customer service.

Apple: Connecting to Customer with Empathy and the 3 Fs

Apple gets customer service. By reading your verbal and nonverbal cues, Apple employees empathize with what’s not working well. They’re encouraged to use the three Fs – feel, felt, found. They feel what the customer is saying, share a time when they felt that way, and tell them the solution in terms of what the support rep found. Along with what to say, they also know what not to say. Terms such as “problem” only aggravate the customer. Real-life users give high ranking to their phone support so they excel in all forms of support. This principle of empathy is an easy characteristic to adopt once people are able to picture themselves in someone else’s shoes.

Google: Cross-Functional Ownership

Google is more than just a well-known search engine. To support its paid products, such as Google Apps and Google AdWords, the company is available to customers 24/7 and they have phone support in forty languages. To ensure their support team does not operate in a vacuum, they promote “cross-functional ownership” of products which means all departments need to understand the company’s product lines. Ensure your entire team talks to each other so they are aware of what goes on company-wide and can better respond to customers as a result.

Dell: No Longer in Hell?

Jeff Jarvis’s well-known “Dell Hell” post did not bring the type of publicity a company would want. But since then, Dell has figured out the need to jump online and join the customer service conversation. They accepted the negative feedback from that post and saw an opportunity to listen to their customers. Even Jeff Jarvis gave them some credit for that in a follow up post. All companies can listen to their customers beyond phone calls and company email by setting up alerts to monitor when their brand is mentioned.

Amazon: Same-Day Service

One person tells a story of needing to find specific books very quickly that were not available in the local Barnes & Nobles.  He was very pleased to find them on Amazon with same-day delivery. Fortunately, he lived close to an Amazon lockerin the Washington metro area and was able to get the books later that day with only a small fee. Although same-day delivery may not be feasible for most companies, keeping customers apprised of when delivery is expected or any delays demonstrates courtesy and great customer service.

Rackspace: Would You Like Pizza with That?

How about being on the phone with customer support for so long that you miss a meal or two? Can you imagine that problem being solved by the rep on the other end of the phone? That’s exactly what happened with Rackspace. One of their reps – a ‘racker’ – placed the customer on hold long enough to order a pizza for the customer and his team. An effort like this was not a burden in terms of cost and delighted customers because it was so unexpected. How can you think outside of the box?

Buffer App: Connecting Through Social Media

When the Buffer App was mentioned in an online article about social media, cofounder Leo Widrich reached out with a friendly response about the article. Not only did that start a dialogue between the two, but Widrich also incorporated feedback about the product from the article’s author. Rather than becoming defensive about any negative points in the article, he stayed open-minded to user feedback. This is another reason to use alerts to monitor brand mentions.

DreamHost: Great Support for Zero Money

I have a few nonprofit websites hosted with Dreamhost. These are free accounts for nonprofits so I would expect my support requests to go to the bottom of the pile. That doesn’t happen with Dreamhost. They treat those nonprofits accounts like another other paid account and are responsive to support issues. They even have a sense of humor with their support tickets where users can invite the support rep to “explain things very slowly”. Although this is an entry-level product that does not bring them revenue, it has placed them top of mind and with a favorable opinion.

Namecheap: Responsive When It’s Not Even Their Problem

I have domain names at Namecheap, but was hosting a site with a different company. I posed a question to Namecheap regarding email forwarding. If I had thought before posting my question, I would have realized I was sending my query to the wrong company. Rather than responding “wrong place, dummy”, they were very friendly in the response and suggested another route to get my question answered – without speaking to me like I was an idiot. Great customer service demands treating every customer as equals.

Fitbit: Using Twitter the Right Way

I’m going to sneak in Fitbit in here since it’s a well-known wearable. They are on it when it comes to Twitter support and seemed to share my pain the times I couldn’t find my Fitbit. When you connect with them, you just know they are connecting with you as an individual user rather than a generic customer. You’ll see them use the #fitbitfriends hashtag a fair amount on Twitter.

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Tina Arnoldi, the CEO of 360 Internet Strategy, is qualified in both Google Analytics and Google AdWords, and part of the Google Partners program. She helps clients develop and manage their internet strategy and offers customized training to companies worldwide.

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