I’ve seen examples of both Amazing/Excellent Customer Service, and pretty piss poor couldn’t-care-less Customer Service in the last 24 hours.
Starting with the negative first, earlier this week I had cause to travel through the Dartford Toll Crossing twice. As a reasonably regular traveler of that route in the past, I long ago invested in a “DART-TAG” to make my life easier, and to save a few pennies. What SHOULD happen is that as you approach the toll barrier, the equipment there somehow senses the presence of your tag, and so just debits the charge to your account. In most cases you don’t even have to stop, the barrier is sensitive enough and quick enough for you to just slowly drive on through. The Tag usually emits a loud “bleep” to indicate it’s been recognised, and you get a nice friendly message saying that the toll had been paid (or your credit was low of course!). But this time, when I tried it on the way “out” this week, NOTHING HAPPENED.
No Bleep. No nice friendly message, and most importantly NO ACCESS through the barrier. And of course the car behind me was right up behind me, meaning I couldn’t reverse to reach the machine’s coin catcher if I wanted to.
I had to go rummaging around in the loose change in my pockets, and rolling about in the car trying to find enough change to pay my toll. I could see the people in the car behind me getting impatient and exasperated, and then I had to sort of wriggle out of the window and reach over my shoulder and behind me to get the money in the machine.
The return journey was a similar experience, only I was prepared for the eventuality that it might not work and had the cash ready to use.
So as you might expect, I looked at the Tag Website to see what if anything was said about a Tag not responding, and there was nothing. The “FAQ” seemed quite laughable in actual fact, when you consider the number of tags that must be out there (mine is numbered well in to the hundreds of thousands) it is not outside the realms of possibility that they might just stop working every so often, for whatever reason. Simply NOT having a “What do I do if my tag doesn’t work” in the FAQ doesn’t really make me think that it’s a wholly reliable solution that never goes wrong, merely that the operators of the service are too short sighted to realise that this is EXACTLY the sort of thing an FAQ might actually be Helpful with. Instead I resorted to the “for any other enquiries please e-mail xxxxxx” option, seeing as the published telephone numbers all seemingly close at 5.30pm!
Anyway, to my disappointment, it’s been over 24 hours now, and I’ve not so much as had an acknowledgement of my e-mail, let alone an answer to my problem. If I’d have been traveling through the Crossing again today, it would have cost me £1.50 each way instead of £1 each way with the tag, so I’d have lost more money. I therefore hold this up as a classic example of (1) how to NOT help your customers via your Service Website, and (2) how to NOT help your customers by responding in a timely manner. There’s nothing for it but to label this as BAD CUSTOMER SERVICE.
And then the positive.
I was gutted today to discover when I picked my Kindle up intending to use it, that the screen appears to have broken.
I can genuinely say that I’ve not dropped it, smacked it, or anything else. Indeed you can see the plastic surround is pristine and undamaged, as is the surface of the screen itself. I keep it in a purpose made leather wallet which is also totally undamaged. When transporting it, I tend to put it in my baggage right next to my iPad which is also absolutely fine, so I have absolutely no idea how this damage occured.
Unfortunately it renders the Kindle quite unusable. The top/right hand part of the screen stubbornly displays the last “advert” it displayed in Sleep mode before I turned it on, and the bottom/left part of the screen works more or less as normal.
So I called Amazon using the “call me back” facility on the Website. I bought the Kindle back in March this year, from my local Tesco. I had Googled “Kindle Repairs” and come up fairly short, so really wanted to ask Amazon if they could offer or recommend a repair service. However I was astounded by what happened next.
I explained what I’d found, and how I couldn’t explain how the damage had occured, and before I could ask my questions, the operator started asking me a few other things. When did I purchase the unit? I wasn’t totally sure, maybe as long as 6 months ago from Tesco, I hadn’t bought it from Amazon.co.uk directly. No, to the best of my knowledge it hadn’t been dropped, or squashed, or exposed to water. Yes, I had tried the “cold reset” facility. Ok then, in that case they’ll dispatch a replacement today on next-day delivery, please send the old one back in the next 30 days.
I was astounded. Given my honesty and sheer puzzlement over what could have caused the damage, I certainly wasn’t angling for a free replacement. I was expecting to have to pay for a repair or even replace it at my own expense. Never did I expect a replacement to be sent out just like that. No “proof of purchase” required, no quibbles, or messing about. Just a straight replacement, and I hadn’t even asked!
Of course I wasn’t going to turn it down, so I went from being quite angry and annoyed with the prospect of spending another £150 on a replacement Kindle to elated and overjoyed that I’d be getting a Free Replacement (and a postage-paid label to return my old broken one with!) the very next day.
That in my estimation is going above and beyond the requirements of Acceptable Customer Service in to the realms of the Exceptional. Well done indeed Amazon.co.uk, you have one very happy customer here!