My first “real” job was working for Best Products in Phoenix, Arizona. It was a retail position selling products on the showroom floor. I totally dug it. Learning about the products, talking with the customers, I loved it. From day one, I was thinking… wow, I get paid to show up and do this…awesome.
During my new hire training, I remember my manager saying to all the newbies that “the customer is always right”. The meaning was clear. If something goes wrong, put a smile on your face, apologize and do whatever it takes to fix it. In recent years, I’ve read articles talking about how the customer isn’t always right. My view is this…the customer is always right even if they aren’t! If customers spend money on your products and services, you owe it to them not to blame them, regardless of what happened.
And what about when the customer IS right and your service representative is wrong?
Last Thursday, just before the kick-off of the Independence Day holiday here in the US, I was uploading a new blog post. After I published the post, I did what I always do and clicked on the home page to be sure things looked as they should. That’s when I noticed that the “email sign-up form” was missing. Odd, I thought, but I’ve worked with technology long enough to know that occasionally there are hiccups. After clearing my browser cache and checking again, hum…form still gone. Then I noticed it was gone from the Social Centered Selling company website also. One site a problem, but now both of them? I knew something funky was going on.
Dashing off a note to my webmistress extraordinaire and stellar sleuth, I might add, I let it go knowing that JM was on the case and would get to the bottom of it. On Friday came the word that my sites weren’t the only ones affected, and it was looking like the problem was with the Constant Contact plugin that we use.
JM, being the super conscientious person that she is, created a temporary work around so that anyone visiting the sites would still have a way to join our mailing list.
This morning, I receive the following note:
“It turns out someone from CC turned something off and that stopped it all working! I found this out today when I checked the support page again.
When I rang CC yesterday they tried to tell me it was my form or the plugin!”
I remain a big fan of Constant Contact after 8 years of using the platform. After the one year detour to Infusionsoft that wasted time and money, I happily ran back to Constant Contact with open arms. So color me surprised to find out that this is how they handled a situation that clearly affected many of their customers.
Here’s what they did wrong:
When my gal called in, the service representative’s first response is to blame us – the customer. They said that our form and our plugin was the problem. How the representative knew this without looking into the situation is a mystery to me. Finger pointing when other software is part of the mix is something I commonly see in the tech world.
I have to believe that we were not the only company to call Constant Contact about the problem, which would suggest they should move a little more quickly to find out what was wrong. It took 6-days for the problem to be fixed.
The service department is apparently not monitoring support pages for the most popular sites and plugins. WordPress is one of the most widely used platforms for blogs and websites these days. While I understand that you can’t keep tabs on every available plugin, it does make sense that the top used and rated would be tracked. If they’d been doing that, they would have seen the people asking what was wrong and what to do to solve the problem.
Once the problem was solved there was no mea culpa. Nope, a notice quietly posted on the support page that someone at Constant Contact had turned something off and that broke things. Mind you, this is an email marketing company. It seems the right thing to do was to send an email to all of their customers – explain the problem and apologize for the hassle it caused.
This is not an isolated example of the kind of service we see these days. Even good companies have work to do. Mistakes happen. I get that. This incident won’t cause me to terminate my relationship with Constant Contact because I happen to like them a lot. What concerns me is a largely lackadaisical attitude toward service excellence among companies these days, and the tendency to blame the customer first when something goes awry.
I am the customer. I pay the bill. Even if I’m wrong, I’m right. Study Zappos – they get it.