A very positive customer experience

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A few days ago, I needed technical support from Micro Solutions, the manufacturer of an external hard drive I bought recently. To my surprise and elation, when I called their technical support number, the first thing I heard was not one of those infinitely annoying, deeply nested, recorded menus, but a live human voice saying, "Technical Support, this is Bill." Moreover, with "Bill's" help, my hard drive was humming along within five minutes.

I'm posting this because there seem to be but few companies that haven't gone to those cost cutting but time wasting (for the customer) recorded menus, and so long as their product or service is up to par, I like to see them prosper. I conveyed that to "Bill" and am also going to write the company.

-- David L (bumpkin@dnet.net), December 29, 2001


David that is really good to hear. My last tech-experience was not quite so pleasant. I spent 45 minutes on hold with Lexmark, only to finally learn that my version of windows did not support the printer that I had chosen. Couldn't they have put this on the box or something? grrr

-- (cin@cin.cin), December 29, 2001.

David, just curious----what time of day and what day of the week did you call? Sounds like you hit a low volume time.

-- (lars@indy.net), December 29, 2001.

He called on Christmas. Computer and Internet use goes way down for several days around Christmas, even this forum was almost dead.

-- (my@2.cents), December 30, 2001.

David, great customer service is a dying breed, and so refreshing to hear about. I recently bought a new Fujitsu laptop (1.13 Ghz with 384 MEG RAM...vroom!). The factory had a 1 week shipping delay, and sent me a free $90 carrying case by way of apology. Started having a problem with the video a few days after I got the laptop, and got a real person on the phone when I called tech support. They didn't even mess with it, just said to ship it back and they advance shipped me a new replacement laptop. Having dealt with Dell, Micron, and Compaq with previous laptops, this is the best tech support I've had the pleasure of experiencing. The laptop is a screamer, too.

-- (just an@anonymous.one), December 30, 2001.

I haven't dealt with Dell or Micron, but as far as I'm concerned, Compaq can go to hell and stay there.

-- Peter Errington (petere7@starpower.net), December 30, 2001.

I called last Wednesday (12/26), late morning their time (CST). That accounts at least partly for why I didn't get put on hold, but getting put on hold (for a short time) isn't my gripe; it's having to wade through a menu.

-- David L (bumpkin@dnet.net), December 30, 2001.


I don't like menus either, but in some circumstances they can be lifesavers for an organization. However, they can be, and I guess usually are, carried to gross extremes.

One situation where a menu (or other automated response) was a Godsend occurred when I was at the Agency for International Development. My area of responsibility, for computer support, included the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance. This Office has a coordination center that operates 24/7 whenever there is an emergency such as a hurricane. During an emergency the center is flooded with calls on matters that some other entity handles, and the automated system that was put in gives the proper information without tying up the over-stressed people manning the center.

-- Peter Errington (petere7@starpower.net), December 30, 2001.

About a week ago our electricity went out. When I called to report the outage I was connected immediately to an automated system that was (shock of shocks!) very useful.

The computer used the same technology that the 911 service uses in this area to identify my home address from my caller ID. It asked me to confirm my street number by pressing 1. It then informed me (with a computer-generated voice) that there had been 10 calls about the outage, that approximately 1400 homes were affected and gave an estimated time service would be restored. IOW, it told me all I wanted to know, so I hung up satisfied. That's one smart system!

-- Little Nipper (canis@minor.net), December 30, 2001.

Peter and LN,
Agreed, there are applications where menus and other automated voice response systems work well. Some time ago I had called my local phone company about a trouble, and their automated testing system efficiently led me through a series of steps that provided the information I needed.

My gripe is with menu systems that force you to listen to 5 choices before selecting one, then present you with 4 subchoices, then 6 sub-subchoices...expending multiple minutes of the customer's time instead of providing a human operator who could direct your query in 10 seconds or so. Sometimes after navigating through all this, you get recorded information which doesn't even address what you wanted to know, because your question is beyond what their automated system was designed for. Good luck figuring out how to return to higher levels in the menu tree, or in finding a human being. On occasion, I've resorted to not pressing any key at all, so they think I have pulse dialing instead of touch-tone and redirect my call to a person. Under the right set of circumstances, even I will resort to deviousness.

-- David L (bumpkin@dnet.net), December 30, 2001.

David, regarding pretending I have a rotary phone, I do that a lot.

-- Peter Errington (petere7@starpower.net), December 30, 2001.

What I find especially annoying are the ones that ask you if you want to hear the menu in Spanish BEFORE they give you the option to hear it in English.

-- Uuugh! (This is America @ not. Mexico), December 30, 2001.

It really bugs me that they give the options in English before they give them in our native language. >;)

-- helen (this@is.America.not.Europe!), December 30, 2001.

What bugs me is when the menu choices do not include my question.I can usually get ann operator by dialing "0". But yesterday no one, not even the operator, was there. They could have changed their message to slay that they were closed.

People with menus need to have strained staff on hand.

-- John Littmann (johntl@mtn.org), January 01, 2002.

Last summer our incoming waterline broke [fairly long; maybe 1/4 mile or more]. Since it is near the telephone line, I was required to call and have that line marked before we could dig. I called the big V; I got a recording that identified itself a being 400 miles away. After completing the various submenus, it gave me a number to call [we are now 10 to 15 minutes into the call]. I called that number [in a city only 125 miles away]. A person answered the phone. She had no idea why they had given the number; it was a software company. Back to big V again. A different number. After 15 more minutes [a lake was starting to form], I got a person. Told her the problem. She asked if it was an emergency. I said yes. She said since it was an emergency she could send someone out in 3 to 4 days! I talked to the guy with the backhoe [have known him for years]. He said he knew the two guys who took care of this for big V. He called them and they were there in 15 minutes.

So much for service. ;0)))

Best Wishes,,,,,


-- Z1X4Y7 (Z1X4Y7@aol.com), January 01, 2002.

We have a menu system. There is no option for asking helen for help with a missing person, and yet I have received several of those. There were two of them just this week. None of my other coworkers or supervisors have ever gotten one. I've gotten pretty good at finding all the relevant info and telling the customer who to call and what to ask. I never know what happened later. Most of the time, I'm pretty sure it was something bad. All of the callers have mentioned the punctuality of the missing person.

If you travel, give someone you trust your confirmation numbers for flights, hotel rooms, rental cars, and tours. Try to pre-plan your route, make sure someone knows your plans, and try to stick to them. Give them a time frame for either seeing your lovely self or hearing from you by phone. Check in periodically.

Instruct your trusted other person to report to the police that you are missing within an agreed upon time frame if s/he doesn't hear from you. Many businesses will not give customer information to anyone other than the police.

-- helen (press@any.number), January 01, 2002.

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