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customer_service.pngI don’t need to tell you that the economy is in the toilet. And yet, one thing – more than advertising, PR, or social media – can make the difference between success and failure in this economy. That’s customer service. Why are so many companies so bad at it?
My guess is that my recent frustrating call to Apple customer support cost them more than my satisfying call to Epson cost them to resolve.
Plenty of companies make printers. I have stuck with Epson for 10 years because of great products and great service. After all, even the best products sometimes need service. I love my Mac, and I’ll buy another. But I can buy music in a hundred different places online and off, and after this incident with Apple customer service, I won’t buy from iTunes store again. Why would I?
My recommendation to my friends and family is simple: don’t buy music from iTunes; do buy your printers from Epson.
Because in the end, all that matters is the customer service.
Update: Oct. 14 – My escalated Apple support person did not follow through on her promise. And I have, so far, been unable to reach her again at the number she provided. Quelle Surpris.
Here’s a tale of two customer service encounters, one with Apple, one with Epson:

Apple incident: Since I already own an iMac, it seemed a simple matter to download an album to it from the iTunes store. I purchase a $9.99 album from the iTunes store to my iMac. Six of the 12 songs downloaded. I couldn’t call them about it at the time because it was outside of their business hours. I called today.
Apple support wait time: 4 minutes. Got a rep in India who didn’t listen to or understand the question. She switched me to the wrong division, who was about to switch me back to the first division, when I demanded that the call be escalated. The third person, who spoke excellent English, by the way, solved the problem, gave me her name and direct contact information, and promised to call me later today to confirm that the problem is solved. Why didn’t the first Apple customer service person do that? Because she’s poorly trained, and probably poorly paid.
Elapsed time: (from start of download to resolution) 1 hour, 20 minutes. Frustration level: 7 out of a possible 10. Satisfaction level: 2 out of a possible 10. Value of my time spent on the issue in total: $300. Likelihood that I’ll buy another album from the iTunes store: 0
Epson incident: Epson scanner software for my new Epson CX8400 printer/scanner was corrupt and the scanner wouldn’t open. Epson support wait time: 30 seconds. I was immediately connected to Randy, who instantly understood the problem. He directed me to the Epson site to download the necessary drivers, etc, and then made sure that I could scan an image and understand all the settings on the scanner.
When I apologized because it was taking a long time to re-start my computer, he said “Don’t worry, m’am, I am not rushing you. The important thing is to solve the problem.” I also asked about ink I had purchased for my previous Epson printer and now couldn’t use in the new one. He quickly and politely arranged to replace it, and thanked me for the opportunity to help me.
Elapsed time: 15 minutes Frustration level: 0 out of a possible 10. Satisfaction level: 10 out of a possible 10. Value of my time spent on the issue in total: $100. Likelihood that I’ll buy another Epson product: 100%