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Customer service - John C. Kirk

Mar. 23rd, 2006

10:22 pm - Customer service

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It's easy to rant about poor customer service, so I think it's fair to balance that out by giving credit when people do a good job.

I went along to Gosh! after work today on my weekly comics run. The basic idea is that they put my regular comics aside for me each week, so I'll pick them up from the guy at the till when I arrive, then browse the shelves in case there's anything else that I want. Today there was quite a long queue at the till, so I figured that I'd do it a slightly different way: browse the shelves first, and then get the ones I'm expecting when I go to pay. While I was looking through some comics on a shelf, I heard a voice say "Here you go", so I turned round, and the guy from the front desk was holding out my regular comics to me. I'm impressed by that: he saw me come in, and recognised me to the extent that he actually remembered my name (rather than just "he looks familiar"), then went out of his way to bring me what I wanted without me even having to ask for it.

The only thing I couldn't find on the shelves was the paperback edition of "The 49ers" (Top 10 spinoff), so I assumed that it had already sold out; that's fair enough, since I hadn't reserved a copy, but I asked the guy on duty just in case. It turned out that they did have plenty of copies left, but someone had put a different book in front of them which obscured them from view. I've been in shops where the person at the till will either say "If it's not on the shelves then we don't have it" or just point me in the right direction, but he actually went to the shelf himself to fetch me a copy.

Gosh! isn't really my local shop any more, and it involves a bit of a detour for me to get there, so I've sometimes considered whether I'd be better off going to one of the Croydon shops (there's a branch of Forbidden Planet, and some other one that I've forgotten). However, I wasn't particularly impressed by either of their selections when I investigated before, and the good service that I get at Gosh! is what keeps me going there.

Meanwhile, following up on my recent DNS post, I've been trying to set up SPF records for my home/work domains. Both of the domain registrars involved (UK Solutions for me, Network Solutions for work) have web-based control panels that let me modify the DNS records, but neither of them support TXT/SPF records (just A/CNAME/MX). I emailed both companies to ask whether they support this, and I effectively got the same answer from both ("not yet"), but I was far more impressed by UK Solutions, based on the way they phrased the email.

I'm repeating both emails here; generally speaking this is a bit rude to do without the sender's permission, but I think it's ok in this context.

Firstly the one from UK Solutions:

Hi John,

We are just looking at this. It is not part of the control panel at the moment but I am asking my developers to add it!

Thanks
Tim
UKShells Support Team


Secondly, the one from Network Solutions:

Dear John Kirk,

Thank you for contacting Network Solutions. We are committed to creating the best customer experience possible. One of the first ways we can demonstrate our commitment to this goal is to quickly and efficiently handle your recent request.

We currently don't support SPF (Sender Framework Policy) records through our DNS Manager, however, we plan to offer this capability and other new DNS records in the future. At this time, we do not have a target launch date, but we will notify our customers once we release this enhancement.

Please do not respond to this E-mail. If you have any additional questions, you can reach us via e-mail by completing our online form at http://www.networksolutions.com/en_US/help/service-request.jhtml or by phone at 1-888-642-9675 within U.S. or at 1-703-742-0914 outside the U.S. and provide Service Request 1-224587459.

Sincerely,

Prince001
Network Solutions Technical Support Specialist


When I read the one from Network Solutions, it basically sounded like the type of thing that's been auto-generated by a bot, without any human interaction. (That's partly because "Prince001" sounds like a rather implausible name.) And the entire first paragraph (after my name) is a complete waste of space, just churning out some kind of marketing speak; the strange thing is that this is presumably supposed to impress me. The overall feeling I get is that they're not going to change anytime in the near future, and the only reason they're "planning" it is to discourage me from defecting to a different company.

By contrast, the email from UK Solutions felt like a real human interaction between me and the other person, as if I'd phoned them up and the guy had said "Crap, you're right, that's not there! Ok, we're on the case, and we'll get the new system up and running in the next couple of days." I don't know how long it will actually take them, but I definitely get the impression that they are actively working on this, rather than trying to fob me off.

Anyway, time will tell, but at this point I think it's very likely that I'll be shifting the work domain over to UK Solutions. Thumbs up guys, you're doing a good job.

Oh, and on a completely unrelated note (but following the cheerful trend), I've recently started watching House on Five. It's very good, so I'd happily recommend that to anyone else, and I'll go to watch that as soon as my box has finished recording it.

Comments:

[User Picture]
From:sammoore
Date:March 23rd, 2006 10:29 pm (UTC)
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One of the things that people often comment out with us is that our customer service keeps them coming back.

We make a point of answering emails asap (certainly the same day) and being friendly and chatty in them. We have no standard emails (although I'll often cut and paste from a previously written one) and everyone gets a personal reply. Where the've supplied a number, we'll phone them through choice.

Sam
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[User Picture]
From:billyabbott
Date:March 24th, 2006 06:39 am (UTC)
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Gosh's customer service is really good - they remember me every week, and even had Barry (the old boss man) insist that he'd seen me in Hammersmith the week before hand and ask me what I was doing there...

The most impressive one was a time I went in to get your comics and the guy behind the counter told me to let you know that a Bill Willingham Batman book was out, and that he reckoned you'd want it - they've known who you are for longer than you may think :)
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From:(Anonymous)
Date:March 25th, 2006 12:10 am (UTC)

Now That's Service!

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John,
That's a great story! I wish I could walk into my favorite clothing store and have items waiting for me when I walk in :)
I hope that other customer service people read this post and learn some things!
BTW- I've featured your post on my customer service blog:
http://www.customersarealways.com

~Maria Palma
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