How the Internet defines new boundaries for customer service

16 Sep

I am a sucker for high quality customer service. And I am an Internet guy…! This combination makes me realize (not necessarily before anyone else) that in the world of Internet, customer service acquires a whole new meaning.

Recall the days when companies had a customer service number (not even toll-free) that was rarely attended to, or even if it was, would sound as if it was a favor? Remember how in those days one didn’t really have any outlet to crib about companies that were indifferent to their customers? Recall the times when you were put on an “your call is important to us. Please wait for the next 39 minutes you have a choice?” hold!

Not anymore. The Internet has allowed people to come together, share their crib…and make companies respond to their customers in a never before manner. Yah…forget the fact that some companies still dont…and I honestly dont know what they are upto. But most discerning companies today are responding to customer grievances, which mostly get solved by a simple apology and the display of an effort not to repeat the situation again, with any other customer.

Which scares me…because I am now handling both sides of the coin. At one hand I continue to be a customer…and I cant even begin to recount how often I have written to the CEOs of corporates (and big ones huh…Jet, Maruti, Toshiba, Jumeirah, Starwood at last count!) and actually got them to move their ass…and on the other side…I am today a service provider too. Through Accentium, we are serving a large section of the Indian Internet population and there are bound to be mistakes we make. And there are bound to be grievances that customers raise.

I shudder to think of times when our customers get together and complain about our products. I hate to think of such a possibility…but I am guessing it happens. Which always keeps us on our toes. We, on a normal day, recieve anywhere between 5-10 customer emails about our services. Some are happy news (we received 2 success stories for SecondShaadi yesterday!!)…some are general emails (I need to change my listing. How do I do that)…and some are feedback mails…good rarely..bad mostly…(why is this not working…why are you sending me random profiles when I asked for only this this this)

All of this gives us immense insight into how our customers operate. And we make it a point to respond to all…without fail…such emails. Because we want them to know that we care…and while we have done what we thought was best for you all…but to really make us the best…we need your feedback. We need to know what are we doing wrong..more than the right.

I personally treasure these emails. Because I know that most customers are not even bothered about sending in an email. They will simply move on…most probably…to our competitor…and its scary to think how many would have. So such emails are a fantastic find..because they take the pains to give me feedback. And we try to hold on to them as much as we can.

And angry customers are really really bad people…! go to this site Consumer Complaints. It is nothing but thousands of customer complaining…! Nothing else..! There are no resolutions to these complaints in an official manner (the only way is if the companies are actually tracking the posts there…but are they)…! But look at its power. You search for “HDFC netbanking” and complaints from the site are there on Page1. Search for “Airtel Prepaid” and same result…search for “online sbi” and same result.

Thats the power of the site. Some..atleast some…potential customers when searching for these queries will catch the complaints too. Imagine…the corporate website is the first result and the complaints is right there on the same page! The company has friggin spent their life building that brand and a single customer’s complaint has now come at the same level. Thats the power of the Internet!

I love the openness of the Internet. I love the fact that it dissolves boundaries and it creates communities…where people can share! Ironically…these are the same things that makes me scared now.


Matt Cutts recently blogged about his bad experience with US Airways. Imagine how powerful that is. He could have simply written to the CEO of US Airways…am sure he can figure that much out. But he close to blog instead! Turning the entire world into a community…of people complaining about similar experience. You have to read the comments on the post…! Whats worse is that not even a single comment seems to be from someone at US Airways, trying to offer an apology…or atleast an explanation! Sad!

2 Responses to How the Internet defines new boundaries for customer service



September 16th, 2009 at 3:46 pm

i have been on the receiving end…used to handle customer service over the phone…very few satisfied customer and hell lot of irate ones…and it was not a cool job but then when the customers are satisfied with their problems (left still a problem at times)its such a triumph moment…and the c-sat excellent…and i often used to wonder if all the customers were left satisfied what happens to the customer care deptt…so my friend, its good that there are unsatisfied customers and we still have the job…we too are customers and what do we want, a good or at times better value for our money…and as a service provider, feedbacks are good, know where the company stands…and very truly said, internet is the powerhouse…so my friend i as a good Samaritan , will go ahead and complain, give feedbacks and blog or twitter so that someone somewhere has a job to keep:) what say???


Ankur Warikoo

September 16th, 2009 at 5:15 pm

go ahead…complain…!!! :)

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