I read a couple of stories about customer support this week that inspired me to write this blog entry about our commitment to awesome customer support:
1. Joel Spolsky’s Seven steps to remarkable customer service. Joel has some great insight, and he and I share a number of philosophies about support:
- Hire intelligent, quality support engineers who spend the necessary time with the customer to isolate the root of the issue and offer an interim work-around.
- Work closely with development in reporting all software issues so that bugs will be fixed in future releases.
- Accept responsibility and don’t make excuses.
- Remember that each support engineer represents the company and that every email to every customer should be treated as public record (as it often becomes when our customers share a response in our forums).
- Refund money if the customer’s not happy with the product.
These steps lead to happy customers who don’t hesitate to share their experiences with others.
2. Wired’s cover story on Why Things Suck: Customer Service. For most people, there’s a preconceived notion that support is going to suck, and it usually does. I cringe when I have to call the phone company, the airline, or big software companies.
At Articulate, our support doesn’t suck. Read on and with the help of some of our customers, I’ll tell you why.
But first, a little story about what we don’t do…
How Not to Treat Customers
Last year for our anniversary, my wife and I went to one of the nicer restaurants in town. Before that visit, we’d heard only good things about the restaurant. To our dismay, it was one of the worst dining experiences of our lives. The food was pretty good, but the service was horrendous. The owner and wait staff were condescending and our table was abandoned (no water refills, no check-back to see how the food was). We wrote a 1-page letter to the owner expressing our concerns. She replied with a 3-page tome to say not that she was sorry and would take our feedback into consideration, but to say why our perception of the service was wrong. This establishment clearly does not understand how to provide awesome customer service.
My experience at this restaurant last summer epitomizes the opposite of how we support our customers here at Articulate.
So how do we support our customers? Here’s how…
The Articulate Commitment to Awesome Customer Support
1. We commit to providing you with relevant online support resources that help you complete your elearning projects.
Search thousands of online support resources via our universal search, which will give you results from this blog, our support site, our help documentation, and our lively Community Forums. These resources are ever-expanding so that you’ll always have the answers you need to be successful with your work.
“I absolutely gush about the support I’ve received from your team. I’m training client personnel on how to create their own simple courses — I wish you could have seen the relief on their faces when I told them about your support team, blogs, and community forum. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.” -Customer email to support, Wed, 1/9/08
2. We commit to helping you resolve technical issues to your satisfaction.
Our most common (and quickest) method of support is our complimentary email support. You can submit new cases online or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. If you don’t understand our response or are not satisfied, just say so. Reply to the email from Articulate Support and tell us what else we can do to help. We’ll work with you until all of your questions are answered and you’re 100% satisfied.
“The patience and dedication to customer satisfaction was amazing!” -Case survey comment, Thu, 1/10/08 11:58 AM
3. We commit to timely and comprehensive responses.
We have support sites in 3 countries, including the U.S., and our support team works 24×7 to ensure that someone’s always here to help. Most issues — including activation and installation problems — are resolved the same day, often within 30 minutes of case submission. So even if you’re burning the midnight oil to meet that deadline, chances are that we’ll be here to help you reach the light at the end of the tunnel.
“I asked you the question from Japan, but you sent e-mail after ten minutes from my first question. I was surprised. Your response was very fast. You are the worldwide company, Thank you!” -Case survey comment, Fri, 1/25/08 3:07 AM U.S. EST
4. We commit to never closing your case.
At Articulate, we do things differently, and support is no exception. Your case is never closed. What that means is that you can respond to any email you’ve ever received from us — you don’t have to go login to some special site just to reply or give us more info. Doing so adds your email to our queue and signals to us that you need more help. So if you write to us, we’ll respond. We won’t make you jump through the annoying hoops of having to open a new case, like some other companies do.
“Resolution to the problem in 6 minutes is a support utopia that’s enough to make a grown man cry.” -Case survey comment, Thu, 1/10/08 3:41
5. We commit to calling you, when necessary.
We offer the Articulate Live Conference, which you can purchase at any time. Beyond that, if we’re working with you on a case via email and reach a point where the issue can’t be resolved via email, we will schedule a complimentary Web conference with you to help resolve the issue at hand. We realize that sometimes it’s easier for you to talk to a human and to show us what you’re seeing.
“You and your team are geniuses. No wonder you have great products. Thank you again for your A+ world class support.” -Customer email to support, Thu, 1/10/08
6. We commit to being polite, patient, and thorough.
We know that if you’re contacting support, then you’re probably already frustrated with something and we don’t want to add to that frustration. We promise to help you through each and every Articulate-related issue you may encounter while using our software. We will spend time working on your case and will do whatever it takes to resolve the issue, or, if necessary, alert our development team about any problems you may encounter with our software.
“Your support people are the very definition of awesome. Quick response, polite and respectful of your customers’ ability and technical understanding.” -Case survey comment, Thu, 1/17/08 2:50 PM
7. We commit to listening to your feedback.
We love to hear all the great praise you leave in our survey, but we know we’re not perfect, so we also want to hear when you’re not happy with how we handled your case. You can share feedback with us in any of the following ways:
- Fill out the support case survey.
- Write to Gabe, Director of Customer Support.
- Call me directly: 1-800-861-4880. If I’m not available when you call, I commit to calling you back in a timely fashion.
- Submit product feature requests directly to our development team.
You help to shape the future of our products as well as the tools we offer to support you in using our software.
“You responded with encouragement and help. You somehow were able to understand what I needed.” -Customer Kathy Hartman, Mon, 6/18/07
We want to keep you happy and we’re committed to helping you achieve success with your projects. Period. All that and we offer a 30-day, no questions asked refund policy on our products.
That’s the Articulate difference. That’s our commitment to awesome customer support. And that’s why our support doesn’t suck.
If you ever feel that the support you’ve gotten has been sub-par and not in line with these commitments, please let me know. You can also learn more about what we do and don’t support in our support policy.