Something happened to customer service starting about 5 years ago. Interaction with non-customers has declined to the point most customer service desks no longer answer any questions from people they consider “outsiders.” This is a terrible change because many non-customers want to do business with those companies but change their minds when they are treated with silence. Recently I had the displeasure of experiencing this exact problem with an email security appliance maker. Because we were not a client (part of their “tribe”) I could not get phone calls returned, emails answered, or even a response when FEDEXING a letter overnight to the C-level executives, support desks, and managers of the company. Ignoring non-customers is an amazingly ignorant position to take because I was actually thinking of buying their appliance for our own use. My support question was actually part of my analysis to see if their support was up to par. But after seeing their complete and total disregard for non-customers I shopped elsewhere for a similar (and better) appliance with much better support.
I then contacted the sales department of that same non-responsive company to see what action I could get from them. Within five minutes I received a phone call from one of their friendly sales people. I asked the person why I did not get a response from anyone in their support, C-level, or management team and I was told “you are not a customer so you don’t get the privilege of support.” Yes, the phrase “privilege of support” was actually used. I have been seeing this exact same scenario playing out at retailers, phone companies, and just about any company that has a website with a link to customer support. It seems the idea of “service and support” is now only given to the privileged ones who are paying customers and support for everyone else does not exist.
Global IntelliSystems follows a different path with customer service. We care about everyone, customers or non-customers. It doesn’t matter who you are, or what you want, or where you are from – you get support. In fact, our support team is often timed to see who can resolve tickets the fastest and many tickets are from non-customers needing help. This is the way customer support used to be, and should be today. You give 100% effort to everyone who calls, walks in the door, or emails asking for help. This “privilege” nonsense is going to bite these companies very hard because people talk and people post their experience online for the world to see. I checked around for comments about that company I dealt with and sure enough there were dozens of complaints and only a few positive comments. With enough complaints found online those same companies will also find a big decrease in sales because bad news travels fast and nobody wants to buy from a company with a bad reputation.
I urge every business owner and every customer service manager regardless of supporting people online or at a physical location to really take a close look at your support policies. Please make sure everyone gets support, promptly, professionally, and without the “privilege” nonsense. We are all in this world together so helping people who ask for it goes a long, long way.
- John Brogan