Don’t leave them hanging, follow-up again

The question was asked on Facebook, it was easier to follow-up and continue the conversation via email. Great, the customer was helped, everything’s good, isn’t it?  Yes, but no. Hang on! Did you go back and close the original conversation in some way to indicate where the conversation went?

While our focus is on the active conversation, it stays out there, meaning the next person to come along can read (and even try participating) but they won’t have the same understanding of the context you and your original participants did.  It’s up to you to provide some clarity for those that will follow.

That extra step not only helps those that follow to understand, it also helps to manage perceptions. Just leaving the public portion of the conversation hanging gives a bad impression, even if you are really moving mountains in the background.

Make your chats natural

I had an experience with Comcast‘s chat support a few evenings ago that I still keep mulling over. I’m not certain how much of it was scripted vs. improvised, but it felt somewhat awkward. As someone who spends time writing scripts for others to use when interacting with customers on the phone and via chat, I wanted to share my experience and suggestions.  (I have change the rep’s name as I’m not complaining about the level of service, just the awkwardness of the conversation.  And before you get concerned, the email address and password have already been changed.)  Here’s the full exchange…

Kevin > I just found out my Comcast email address is KMICALIZZI_658@comcast.net. I was originally an adelphia subscriber, how do I get a password assigned?
Beth > Hello Kevin_, Thank you for contacting Comcast Live Chat Support. My name is Beth. Please give me one moment to review your information.
Beth > I am glad to have you on chat. I hope you are having a wonderful day, Kevin.
Kevin_ > thanks Beth!
Beth > You are welcome, Kevin.
Beth > I understand how frustrating this is for you not to be able to have your password. No worries, you have reached the right person to help you out. Your concern is my topmost priority for today.
Beth > I will be more than happy to assist you. Rest assured that at the end of this conversation, I will be able to provide you with your password, Kevin.
Beth > Are you still there, Kevin?
Kevin_ > I am
Kevin_ > I’m waiting for you
Beth > Before anything else, as a valuable customer of Comcast, we give importance to your privacy by ensuring the integrity of your account information. In order to do so, can you please provide me the following:
a. Full name of the Account Holder
b. Complete address
c. Comcast account number
Kevin_ > Kevin Micalizzi
Kevin_ > ******************
Kevin_ > ***************
Kevin_ > let me go grab a bill to get you the account number
Beth > Okay, Kevin. I can wait for you. Thank you.
Kevin_ > 8*** ** *** *****40
Beth > Thank you for the information.
Beth > While pulling up your account, how’s your day so far?
Kevin_ > it’s ok
Beth > That is good to hear, Kevin.
Beth > By the way, Kevin, are you a big movie and TV fan? Comcast now has the best free online streaming and extensive video collection of television shows, movies, trailers and clips online. For you to experience this great entertainment site please visit http://www.fancast.com/. Please check it out sometimes.
Kevin_ > That’s what I was checking out when I realized I needed my comcast email and password.
Kevin_ > I didn’t know I had this email address, I originally had Adelphia cable, which was bought by Comcast.
Kevin_ > 🙂
Beth > I see. That is great, kevin! I hope you will enjoy the site.
Beth > Going back to your concern, do you have a pen and paper handy with you? I will be providing you with your password. Please let me know if you are ready, Kevin.
Kevin_ > I’m ready
Beth > Thank you, Kevin.
Beth > password……………..wildlost
Kevin_ > ok, thanks!
Beth > Please take time answering the survey after our interaction. We greatly value your feedback for us to improve more on our service. You can do this by clicking on the “END SESSION” button and please don’t forget to click on submit.
Beth > Thank you for bringing Comcast to your home! Again, this is Beth. We appreciate your business and value you as a customer. Our goal is to provide you with excellent service. If you need further assistance, you can always reach us through chat 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Beth > Analyst has closed chat and left the room
Here are the places I would make some changes.

I understand how frustrating this is for you not to be able to have your password. No worries, you have reached the right person to help you out.  Your concern is my topmost priority for today

This part was awkward.  I would have opted for, “I understand how frustrating it can be to not have your password.  No worries, I can help you.”   Ditch the “Your concern is my topmost priority for today.”  We both know it’s not true.  I’m on the chat, I feel like I have someone who can help me, it’s not the time to make promises you don’t mean.  There were several pauses during the chat, which left me with the feeling this rep was helping others at the same time.  That’s fine, but it undermines the rep’s credibility to say my issue is their “topmost priority for today.”

I will be more than happy to assist you. Rest assured that at the end of this conversation, I will be able to provide you with your password, Kevin.

This part was probably not necessary at all.  The rep had just said they can help, it would have been better to move on to the account information needed to get the password reset done.  This part was also followed by a long pause, then “Are you still there, Kevin?”   I wasn’t really asked a question, so I assumed the rep was doing something on their end.  I was just waiting for the rep to tell me what comes next.  From calling into support organizations in the past, I was expecting to be asked for my account information.

While pulling up your account, how’s your day so far?

I was surprised by the question.  It seemed very personal.  Maybe it was just because communicating via chat removes all nonverbal cues, but I really wasn’t about to tell the rep about my day, good or bad.  It might have been better to say “Let me pull up your account information.  I hope your day is going well.”

By the way, Kevin, are you a big movie and TV fan? Comcast now has the best free online streaming and extensive video collection of television shows, movies, trailers and clips online. For you to experience this great entertainment site please visit http://www.fancast.com/. Please check it out sometimes.

It’s great Comcast is taking the opportunity to let people know about additional services. Personally if I had written this, I would have broken each sentences onto a separate line and ask the rep to send each with a brief pause in between.  Suddenly getting this much text interrupts the flow of the conversation and makes me feel like an ad just popped up.  Also, I would have ended with “Please check it out sometime.”

Going back to your concern, do you have a pen and paper handy with you? I will be providing you with your password. Please let me know if you are ready, Kevin.

This part actually made me laugh.  I don’t think I’m some super-tech-genius, but if I’m already at the keyboard chatting, I’m guessing I don’t need to run for pen and  paper.  We probably could have skipped this part too and gone directly to the new password.

Please take time answering the survey after our interaction. We greatly value your feedback for us to improve more on our service. You can do this by clicking on the “END SESSION” button and please don’t forget to click on submit.

The last few chat messages, starting with this one surprised me.  They appeared in my transcript, but must have been sent after I clicked END SESSION.  I would have said “Please take a minute to answer the survey you’ll see after our chat.” and “We greatly value your feedback to help us continue improving our service.” After the rep gave the password, I said “thanks” and expected some kind of closing message or something like “have I answered all your questions?”  I was excited to get going with my new password so when I didn’t hear anything for about a minute, I ended just the session.

Again, my goal here is not to criticize the level of support Comcast provided.  While experience could have been smoother, the rep handled my issue is less time than it probably would have taken to call in, get through the phone system, explain the problem to someone, and get it resolved.

From the tone of the rep’s language in the parts I’m guessing were spontaneous, I would assume there was some level of cultural difference.  The language sounded more formal than I’d expected.  There didn’t seem to be any difficulty communicating about the issue, just that the responses didn’t read as well as they probably could have.

The only  thing that actually annoyed me was that the rep used my name 11 times in our very brief exchange.  It was way too much.  If someone had done that in conversation, I would have assumed they were afraid they wouldn’t remember my name and were repeating it at every opportunity to memorize it.  In this case, there is a written transcript, so the chances of forgetting are very slim.  Yes, the sweetest thing is hearing the sound of your name, just not too much.

I have a few takeaways from the exchange:

  1. Always read your scripts/message text out loud.  Does it sound natural?  If doesn’t, rewrite it.
  2. No matter how well you script the exchange, some level of actual conversation is required.  It’s not possible to script every word someone would say in a conversation.  Train your reps well, periodically check for language, and continue coaching the reps to help them get even beter.

This has been a good reminder for me that I need to add my team’s demos to my calendar and join them more often to ensure the scripted parts are still relevant and to look for more coaching opportunities in the spontaneous conversations.  (If you’re interested, the team conducts Dimdim web conferencing demos every weekday.  If you jump into one, please take a minute to let me know what you think!)

-k

Remember The Milk forgot me

Remember The MilkWhen I switched to Mac, I had to give up my habit of using Outlook for managing my task list (Entourage doesn’t sync Tasks to the server and I typically have 100+ items on my lists).  After some research, I went with Remember The Milk and signed up for a 1-year account (in January 2009) so I could use their MilkSync for BlackBerry.

Near the end of April I started encountering an error with MilkSync.  The issue was acknowledged on April 25th by email.  Two days later I was asked to provide my logs (and they sent easy to follow instructions on how to get the logs they needed.)   April 28th, I received an email saying:

“I’ve been advised by the team that this issue should be fixed. Please let me know if you have any further issues.”

MilkSync BlackBerry errorI thought, great!  Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.  On May 2nd I replied to the email again to let the support rep know the issue still hadn’t been resolved.  I even sent a photo of the error.  No response.  May 28th I sent this message:

“I’m writing to express how extremely disappointed I am that as a customer who purchased I received no further response on this issue (from May 2nd.)  At thetime Krissy emailed me the issue was not fixed.  The errors stopped within a week of sending that email, but I ended up having to reset my sync for the product to work correctly again (it was reporting that sync successfully ran, but was not updating data.)  I’m not sure about you, but I’m VERY hesitant to give any product that touches my contact list another try if I lose important data.

I’m in the process of looking for something to replace RTM with my BlackBerry now.”

It’s been almost a month since my last email to them and still haven’t received any acknowledgement.  I’m pretty patient, but that is unacceptable.  When I found the MilkSync app was showing my tasks had successfully synchronized, but they hadn’t. In the end I lost some of my task list data.  That was when I cancelled my 1-year non-refundable account, only 5 months into what I had paid for.

I think what I had the most trouble with is that the only means of contact was email, which obviously failed.  The support issue received a tracking number that was in the subject of all communications, so I’m assuming there is a tracking system behind it.  Even if the support rep had taken a sabbatical or left the company, there needs to be a process in place to ensure customer issues don’t fall through the cracks.

-k

Evernote is my hero

EvernoteI’ve been using Evernote for years now.  When I switched to Mac a few months ago I noticed a problem with the Evernote client for Mac.  When I would select a category for my note, it would jump to a seemingly random category regardless of what I selected.  I could work around this by going back into the note and moving it to the right place, but when you’re clipping things for reference later the last thing you want to be doing is spending extra time on it.

I submitted the issue to Evernote on March 22nd and received an automated response.  As a “premium member” I should get a response within 1 day.  The next day I received my response with a follow-up question from a support rep.  We went back and forth a few times.  The support rep was unable to reproduce the issue, so I created a Jing video to show how easy it was for me to recreate.  Two days after submitting, the issue was given over to QA to be reproduced.  They had acknowledge my issue and were taking a look at it.

Where I get  excited is less than 2 weeks after reporting my annoying but not show-stopping issue, I received an email saying:

Hi Kevin,

this bug is fixed. New Mac version with bug fix will be released next week.

Thanks,

Evernote Support

True to form, in a week the new release fixed the issue.

Way to go Evernote.  The entire process was handled via email, but at no point did I feel like I was forgotten or ignored.  The added touch of confirming it will be in the release made me feel that I had someone looking out for me.

Poor theater experience, good customer service to the rescue!

Cinemagic, Merrimack, NHWent to see Underworld: Rise of the Lycans last weekend.  We usually watch our movies at home (via NetFlix) so going to the movie theater is a real treat.  We decided to go to CineMagic in Merrimack, NH, because of their stadium seating and generally good service.

The theater for Underworld was barely a quarter full, though getting tickets and getting through the lobby was an adventure-it was packed!  (Tip: always check the lobby for automated ticket kiosks, before you wait in the big line saved us about 15 minutes of waiting in line!)

Ticket for Underworld: Rise of the LycansWe got our munchies and settled in.  From the start of the movie I thought the volume was pretty low.  About thirty minutes in, it still seemed low to me.  My hearing isn’t always the greatest, so I asked one of my friends and he agreed.  Being the shy quiet person I am, I left the theater and flagged down the first two theater employees I came across.  Explained the volume problem and went back to my seat.  Saw one of the employees come in to check, then leave.  I figured my problems were solved.

Well, the movie didn’t seem to get any louder.  Some of the dialogue in the movie is pretty quiet, so it definitely impacted my enjoyment.  At one point it was so quiet I could hear the leather shoes of the woman behind me squeaking on the floor.

We made it to the end of the movie.  The movie was pretty good, though my experience was rough.  It’s hard to immerse yourself in the movie if you have to actively work to hear dialogue and follow along.  One of my friends said she found herself sitting forward in her seat through part of the movie trying to hear better.   As soon as I left the theater, I went directly to the lobby to locate the manager.  He was easy to find as the employees I spoke with knew where he was in the theater (a good sign.)

I explained to him that the audio levels were too low. He knew someone had left the theater and knew one of his employees had gone upstairs to adjust the audio levels.  He delicately mentioned they need to be careful not to increase the volume too much.  At that time, one of my friends came up to us and added her experience to the conversation.  He apologized and explained the volume was turned up, but obviously not enough.  He said he’d talk to the employee about it.  He offered to give us each a “Rain Check” (being the frugal person I am I accepted.)

The “Rain Check” was a nice touch, but definitely not why I left the theater feeling good.  I’ve received vouchers in the past and still left places feeling like I’d been kicked in the teeth.  In thinking about the experience, there are a few factors:

  • the employees knew where the manager was in the theater
  • the manager knew there had been a problem during the movie, even though he hadn’t been present for the discussion
  • the manager knew the employee had tried to fix the problem
  • the manager was careful to balance the needs of all theater goers with ours in the conversation – and he was very genuine about it

The only thing he could have done better would be to make sure there was follow-up when the volume issue was “fixed.” I hope his employees learn from his example.