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There’s No Excuse for Bad Customer Service

Like everyone, I’ve had my fair share of awful customer service experiences. There was that belligerent server who spilled plum sauce all over me and then had the audacity to try charging me for a refill (true story!), or the time a hotel wouldn’t cancel my booking because it hadn’t been made yet – apparently they first had to book it and then proceeded to charge a cancellation fee. What the what!?

I just don’t understand bad customer service.

I’m a humanist and I don’t entirely blame the person on the other end. I mean, nobody reeeeeally wants to do a bad job. Right? It’s a systemic plague caused by disempowerment, bad work environments, weak training, misguided targets and, uh, and… Walmart! Yeah, throw Walmart in there. Why not!?

But bad support still happens. And it’s the worst! Take this bully support rep at Comcast who belligerently refused to cancel a customer’s subscription. (For reals, you must listen — it’s cringingly, Larry David-ly, cover-your-eyes-ingly bad.)

Granted, this example’s a super extreme case because it’s not just bad service, it’s a legit awful argument that the rep was trained to handle drill-sergeant stylez. So, the question is: why is bad support still a thing?

Companies like Amazon and Zappos attribute a big chunk of their success to great service (What’s that you say? Another story of Zappos blowing the business world’s minds?), so isn’t the value of great customer service already proven?

I’m a relationships guy. I’ve been known to banter with cashiers and baristas  — much to the discontent of the grandpa in line behind me —  and my approach to business is totally the same.

Maybe it’s cause my previous careers were super client-centric, but I’ve always known that customers and clients pay my bills. I have the privilege of coming to work because of them. My role (and company!) exist entirely because of them.

B2B or B2C, we’re all in the business of relationships.

So when you’re a web-based business and never really have customer face time, how do you build relationships?

There are other, far more eloquent and well-written posts about delivering great customer service (over at HelpScout, par example) so I won’t be solving the great customer service debates of the day. But I will say that in my limited experience, your best bet is to have an empowered team of smart, empathetic people, who have the freedom to be themselves and do cool stuff.

No strict rules.
No canned support responses.

A couple months back, we were running a closed beta of our now released Mobile Responsive feature when one of our customers emailed and asked:

“Is there anybody we can talk to (or, bribe?) for access to your beta for responsive pages? Let me know what you need from us to make this happen… or where we need to send the briefcase of unmarked loonies…”

We told him that knowing his company would be using Unbounce was reward enough; no bribe was necessary. Obvs. But a couple weeks later, I arrived at my desk to find a giant bag of chocolate gold loonies (dollar coins for those unfamiliar with the currency up here in the Great White North) waiting for me.

Real talk: our customers are phenomenal.

Obviously, we wanted to thank him for the hilarious gift and it’s moments like this that allow a seemingly faceless SaaS company to connect with real people and do rad things.

iPhone in hand, our Customer Success team banded together and recorded this quick video as thanks:

What took just a few minutes of “non-work” produced something that’s helped us build an even stronger relationship.

I’ve seen it through our support feedback and innumerable conversations: connecting with your customers and showing that there are indeed real people behind your brand has a super positive impact on customer satisfaction.

Customers that chat with our team directly are more than twice as likely to refer other people to try Unbounce.

That’s nuts.

And it’s one of the many reasons we do our best to deliver more than just good support — we want to deliver the kind of ridiculously phenomenal service our customers can’t help but tell their friends about.

We find that connecting authentically in thoughtful ways works wonders for our customer relationships. You just have to keep an eye out for opportune moments to surprise and delight.

…and Michael, we’re still working through the trove of delicious chocolate loonies. Thanks :)

Ryan Engley
Director of Customer Success