October 24, 2008

Customer service...

I've been thinking about this for awhile, but today I had one of the most convulted customer service experiences yet. I registered for a webinar online with all webinar times given in GMT (Greenwich Mean Time). You had to go to another site to figure out what your time was in relation to GMT and then do the math to figure out which session you should attend. Granted it's a click away, but I'm wondering how many people will sign up for the session listed at 1:00 and miss the time zone (for me, that is a 5:00 am session). As an aside, the company is not located in the US and I'm assuming these webinars for customers in different countires, so I get why they used GMT, but most people are not used to using GMT for a time zone designation.

This is coming on the heels of some challenges in contacting support from the various vendors I deal with. I'm now the keeper of our open URL system, our A-Z e-journal software, and I'm organizing the implementation of our ERM module and looking at that company's A-Z product (we're eventually hoping to consolidate and reduce the number of products we use). Not suprisingly, I've needed to contact customer support. It's not easy. You actually have to tell them to set you up in their system or someone from your library has to tell them, because not just anyone can open a case. Then, you log into their CRM and submit your question. One vendor handles everything through their CRM. So, I get an e-mail after I submit the case and I get an e-mail everytime they reply. But, in order to reply to them, I have to log into the CRM system, update the case, which generates another confirmation e-mail and starts the cycle all over again. So far, they've responded well, so no major complaints, just a lot of hoops to jump through.

I logged a case with another vendor requesting sample records. A week later I called to see what happened. They had it, but it had not yet been assigned. They didn't consider seven days in their queue with no feedback bad. I do. At least confirm that it's been recieved. Calling them of course routed me through a phone tree and ultimately to not one but two people who didn't know anything about the product I was calling about (which at least they acknowledged). I was also strongly admonished to open everything online and have a case number when calling. I'm still waiting to hear about the sample records request and that's a week after they bumped up the priority.

Trying to find a person knowledgeable about the product to ask questions of has proved to be daunting as well. I finally did. They suggested a time to talk which I confirmed. This was all by e-mail, which included a signature block with all my information, including phone number. The response I got to my confirmation was a request for my phone number. I've set my expectations very low for this particular chat.

I'm waiting on a response from another vendor, though the logged case was acknowledged by e-mail. And, I've sent two e-mails to another vendor's support e-mail requesting technical assistance over an almost two week period. I will try calling them today as I've received no response. I'm guessing I haven't logged my question correctly, but, darn it, I looked everywhere for technical support information and the e-mail was the best I could come up with.

I have done customer service of this nature and understand the need for and the use of CRM software. I also somewhat understand the need to designate those that can log cases. From my perspective over the past couple of weeks, though, this process seems to make support choppy and almost always involves a lag time. I need to allow at least a day for a response, which impacts my work.