The art of customer (dis)service

The art of customer (dis)service

By Rajesh Setty on Sun 12 Oct 2008, 8:19 PM – 1 Comment

It’s been a while since I used a PC. Every other computer in my home is from Apple. However, I see that McAfee was automatically renewing my Antivirus subscription for a PC :(

This time I did catch the email that said “Automatic Subscription Renewal Service” and found that there is a simple option to cancel the service by chatting with a customer service representative supposed to be available 24×7.

First, I was told that there is a wait time of 5-10 minutes to “find” a chat agent.

I thought it was still OK to wait for a chat session rather than waiting for a rep on the phone. Once I filled in all the details (about why I want to chat with McAfee) I was taken to a page that made me smile :)

It said, please download a chat client to chat with an agent!

Imagine asking your customers to go through hoops to just reach you. Good luck to McAfee!


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One comment already – Add Yours

macemx  on October 15th, 2008

Rajesh, you are right that the “service” being provided here by McAfee is ridiculous. There are few things that leave an impression as bad as placing barriers between a customer and simply talking to the company. (”Automatic subscription renewal” might be one; sounds like McAfee is really going for the full treatment!)

Well-known gurus like Seth Godin repeatedly offer the advice – for free!- that the smartest thing a company can do is just drop the barriers and start talking to the customer like normal people talk. Yes, there can be a support cost involved, but the reward in terms of loyalty and word-of-mouth PR can be immense. Yet companies continue spending fortunes on marketing, while at the same time undoing the returns of that marketing by annoying customers who just want support.

An example of doing things right might be the Apple Store Genius Bar – no phone navigation, no special procedures (beyond making a reservation), just come in and talk. Certainly not every customer gets excellent problem resolution there, but on the occasions I’ve gone to the Bar, I’ve been amazed by the leeway that the staff are given to just solve the problem. Fix it and be done with it. The result for Apple is free PR, as I go around telling would-be Mac buyers that they get that great Genius Bar as part of the bargain.

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