Measuring customer service

Measuring customer service

When I work with clients on AMS selection, one question that often comes up is: "How good is the software company's customer service?"

"Customer service" means different things to different people. For example, here are the customer service complaints I most commonly hear:

  • "They won't let me talk to a human. All issues have to be submitted via their ticketing system and I have to wait weeks for a reply."
  • "Every time I ask a question, they tell me they're going to bill me for the help."
  • "The customer service staff I talk to don't understand how we use our system and are never able to help us."

For me, the true measure of customer service is how the software company responds when they have objectively made a mistake. In other words, it's not the mistake I judge, but how they respond to it. Case in point:

I was working with a client on an AMS implementation. In the course of discussions with the business analyst (BA) during the implementation, the BA stated that an online portal for single sign-on (SSO) was available for a $5,000 fee. Hearing this in the meeting, I was a bit stunned, because I had recalled from their RFP response that the SSO was included as baseline functionality (i.e., no additional fee).

I showed the RFP response to the BA, who said "Let me check with my manager." A little while later he told us: "The salesman made a mistake in his response, but we will honor it and not charge you the $5,000."

The mistake was clearly theirs. But their response is how I measured them. They could have easily said "Sorry, that was answered incorrectly, you still have to pay for this," but they chose the correct path of honoring their word.

It wasn't the mistake I judged them by, but how they responded to it when it was pointed out. That was good customer service.

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