From my previous blogs and posts, you may have gathered that I am rather passionate about the customer experience 😊.

I recently had a little time on my hands so thought I would contact the Customer Support of a major software brand to fix a problem with my laptop that has been annoying me for some time. It wasn’t a massive problem, just a minor function that works on my PC but not on my laptop, even though they are configured in the same way! I’m a bit of geek and I’d gone through all the trouble-shooting options suggested on the various forums and help pages but without success, so I thought… contact the experts!

It didn’t surprise me when the Agent went through all the same fixes, perhaps I didn’t do them right. I confess I felt a little pride when the outcome was the same, but whilst that was the case, I remained confident that they would eventually find the problem. Three hours later, not only had the problem not been solved, but the Agent had also actually made the problem worse! What was a minor function issue had become a major software outage. My laptop was now refusing to complete any further attempts to upload new software. The software package that I relied upon daily was now completely unavailable.

The Agent seems unfazed by this and advised that she would escalate it within the technical support team to a Level 2 Agent… but I’d have to wait five days for them to call me back! The Agent responded to my concerns with scripted responses and lists of all her actions to date. At this point, my morning wasted, and my laptop unfit for purpose, I gave up! My faith in the “experts” was completely gone. I would think twice before contacting them again.

Lucky for them, they are a major player in the software market, and in this instance, I don’t have an option of choosing another provider but in service industries, consumers have far more options and it is easy for them to vote with their feet!

Service providers cannot just have an amazing proposition, they must also have the customer support team to back it up. So the questions these providers should ask themselves are:

  • Is customer service available when their customers need support?
    There’s no point offering a business proposition, if it’s only supported part of the day, part of the week! Customers also need a response within a maximum of one working day. People ask for support when they have a problem, and not always when they have time on their side.
  • Is customer service available via the channel customers want to use?
    Gone are the days when only offering an overseas contact centre is considered acceptable. Consumers want to be able to choose from a mobile app chat; webchat or social media.
  • Is customer service available to NEW customers?
    I’ve lost count of the number of times over the past 9 years of working in the retail finance space where I have been told that as I’m not a customer, there is no support via telephone or any online channel. I must go to a branch to ask my question. In a world where most people will research their options online, brands are losing out where new enquiries must be made in person.
  • Are they experts in the products they are offering?
    Service providers need to be able to support all kinds of customers – from the person that knows nothing to the super-user. Don’t subject your customers and your team to the awkward situation when the customer knows more than the “expert.”  There should ALWAYS be someone, somewhere who can answer the question – even if, in the end, the answer is “I’m afraid that’s commercially sensitive information and we do not share that publicly.”
    It should also be a swift escalation process, leading back to the whole point of why the customer contacted their provider in the first place… and should not require the customer to go in person to a branch!
  • Are brands supporting their Customer Support teams?
    Not long ago, I was asked by a major global brand to evaluate customer support for a new service they were launching. I conducted a series of tests both in-branch and via the contact centre, and then fed back my experiences to the product development team. As part of that I was given sight of the training package sent to the frontline team. I won’t comment on the fact that the content was so poorly presented that their own team remained uninspired, it was not fit for purpose. The genius of the product developer was not translated for staff and customer knowledge. The obvious questions were not answered. Not only does this demoralise the team, but it will also result in customers losing confidence in the new product and potentially the brand itself.
  • Are the team simply copying & pasting text from FAQs?
    This is one of my biggest criticisms of customer support. Like many people, I do check the website and product FAQs before I approach any helpdesk. I only contact Customer Service when I have a question or problem, I cannot solve myself. I understand the need for scripted responses for legal and regulatory purposes, but it is highly irritating when the Agent copies and pastes responses from the FAQs. I become even more incensed when the copied text doesn’t even address the question or problem put forward. Customer Service is there to support the problems and questions your support documentation does not support. Remember that, remind your teams, and put the infrastructure in place to provide it.


Nowadays, people have a choice of service provider for most of their everyday needs. Sub-standard customer service is no longer something that brands can get away with. People will choose to go elsewhere.

Make sure your teams really are experts!

Alderson Consulting. We’d be happy to help you!

“I am passionate about the consumer experience, and I love working with people who feel the same way.” ~ Anne Alderson


Image: Source MS Bing images – Free to modify, share, and use commercially

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