Loving the customer

Treat the managers of organisations with a little respect when they choose to set their customer service levels where they do. It's a bit patronising to assume they are fools and you know more about customer service than they do. If they fail in their business strategy because of poor customer service, THEN you can dance around saying "I told you so". I don't see Comcast or Microsoft going broke because of their customer service.

Months ago, I meant to share on this blog the excellent debate on a post by William Goddard Customer service as differentiator. The post was about how a small startup called BundlePost were really nice to William whereas Hootsuite pissed him off, and how that meant BundlePost are much smarter than Hootsuite.

Perhaps the best bit of the ensuing discussion in the comments was

  • Rob, You seem frustrated and pretty upset about something.
  • Hey Robert F, I've known Rob E for some time now and he always is like this

There is lots of other good discussion there too, go read it. To collate the points I made there:

I've never heard of BundlePost. Presumably they are burning their way through someone else's startup money trying to establish their business. Of course they love you to death- it's part of their current business model - they consciously choose to pay for it. Please don't be so naive as to think they do it because they are [especially] nice. [Update: I'm sure the BundlePost people are lovely folk personally: no slight on the individuals was intended. I mean that nobody in business spends money just to be nice: they consciously decide that a loving level of customer service is a good business strategy. Nice guys might also decide that they need to ignore the users to make a buck in a tough market. Its just business.]

Hootsuite on the other hand have all the brand recognition they need. They are now in a later phase where they - gasp - actually have to show a profit on all that investment. For them, over-servicing the customer is death. They need to be as lean and mean as they can because of course they aren't generating the buckets of revenue they promised the venture investors.

Let's get real. Fantastic customer service isn't an entitlement, it is a business option. I've blogged about this plenty before.

There are three options:

  1. Hootsuite are stupid fools
  2. Hootsuite are deliberately destroying their own business
  3. Hootsuite have made a business decision to serve as they do

Which one do we think it is?

Every business makes a rational business decision to set their service level somewhere between Microsoft and Zappos. in general I give them the benefit of the doubt and assume the decision is premeditated and rational. It actually helps me be LESS angry :)

See also more "customer" posts http://www.itskeptic.org/taxonomy/term/265

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