In part I of this article Carolina Panthers Women's Jersey , we examined the effects of management ignoring customer service to focus on "sexier" parts of the business, and introduced a couple of the negative things that can happen as a result. Let's continue on:

VOICE MAIL HELL
This is my pet peeve and the pet peeve of many other people as well. I'm a tech guy, and love the application of leading edge technologies to reduce labor costs. But enough, already! A number of otherwise good companies have taken automated voice mail attendants way too far. They make you feel like a mouse in a 6 square mile maze. Companies need to remember that when you pick up the phone to call, it's with the intention to TALK TO SOMEBODY. Using technology to quickly route people to the correct department, or answer simple inquires like directions to the company Buffalo Bills Women's Jersey , is an efficient use of technology for both the company and customer. But making it extremely hard to get through to ANYONE, even after wading through seemingly endless nested menus--is just ridiculous. The only purpose it serves is too alienate your customers and prospects. This is truly the definition of "penny wise, pound foolish".

UNTRAINED OR UNDER-QUALIFIED CUSTOMER AND TECHNICAL SUPPORT REPS
After waiting in voice mail hell, you think it can't get any worse. But wait. After the one half hour wait, your call is now answered by someone so green, so incompetent or so rude that frustration turns to rage. You are asked to enter your account number on the phone pad. Then the rep answers Baltimore Ravens Women's Jersey , and again requests the exact same information. You haven't reached the right department, of course, so you are transferred to another department, where the rep asks you, yet again, for the exact same information. After this rep finally fills in his or her form (not answering ANY questions until it's complete) Atlanta Falcons Women's Jersey , you ask them about your situation, that cries out for an exception to normal company policy. The rep robotically and coldly repeats the company policy--which you already knew. Think someone will want to do business with this company again? Customer and technical support is CRITICAL in the long run. It's one of the true long term differentiators in the market. Spend a little more to hire and retain good people, train them well, and empower them to actually take care of real world customer issues. It will pay back many times in the future.

UNFRIENDLY HOURS OF OPERATION
I'm on the West Coast of the US, so this happens all the time. Try to call customer support in the early afternoon, but the office closes at 5P Eastern Standard Time. This is a particularly important issue for those of you serving consumer markets--many people can't easily call support lines from work Arizona Cardinals Women's Jersey , without putting their employment in jeopardy. In this day of inexpensive, fast communications technology and worldwide commerce, there is no excuse for inconvenient business hours for the markets that you serve.

PREDATORY SUPPORT COSTS
This is something that has continually degraded for customers over time. It used to be that technology companies supported their products for free. The economics of competition has, in the long run, made this go the way of the dinosaurs. Many times, this is with good reason. A well-priced maintenance contract New England Patriots Women's Jersey , from a B2B software company which provides an 800 number, unlimited supported, and all major and minor updates, can be a really good value. If it is priced at the industry standard 18-20% of product cost, and enables the vender to provide excellent support--that's great. But what if the support is lousy and it's priced at 30% of the cost of the product annually? Or how about a consumer software company that is charging $100hour, without even the benefit of a free 30 day startup window Minnesota Vikings Women's Jersey , to troubleshoot their buggy and non-intuitive product? Give me a break! If you want to stand out in today's market, try providing an intuitive, bug free product, coupled with free or reasonable support (there won't be many support calls needed if you do this!). People will beat a path toward your door--and tell every friend they have. This won't show up in the Controller's cost control report--but the benefits to your company's top line will be enormous.

So these are some of the low tech ways to screw up a high tech business. Software and Tech CEOs, keep your eye on the customer service ball. Otherwise, a savvy and opportunistic competitor Miami Dolphins Women's Jersey , with lesser product technology, may take advantage and steal a piece of your market share.
Author's Resource Box

Phil Morettini is President of PJM Consulting, Management Consultants to Tech Companies PJM provides assistance in Management, Product Marketing and Biz Dev. More Articles at Tech Management Blog . Contact Phil at Software Management Consulting

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by Marzia De Giuli

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