Again I run into what I consider the difference between mere service and world class customer service. I spoke about this subject in a previous post here. Recently I signed up to try an newsletter/email management service on behalf of a client that you might be familiar with called “Mailchimp.” We’d previously initiated the service at their behest on Godaddy. Well that was a horrible experience and we had a lot of problems with them and found their overall level of service to be rude and ineffective and really sort of matter of fact. I mean they were quick to respond to our problem but that’s about all I can say about that since nothing was resolved to our satisfaction and without getting into all of the details I don’t think we were being unreasonable as to our needs or wants.
So I looked at some other services and I felt that Constant Contact which I believe is one of the more popular or perhaps leading services, was too expensive for what our client needed. So I looked at Mailchimp and it seemed to provide what we needed and at a very reasonable price, in fact, free up to a certain level which in this case for us meant, free, at least for now. The client only has about 3000 customers on their list and after cleaning it and once we finish the initial remail to them to determine if they still want to be opted-in to receive marketing information from the client likely we’ll fall under the 2k level so it will be free.
Now don’t get me wrong here when I talk about the service difference. I don’t mean it to sound as if Mailchimp is not a good company. I think at least as far as I can see up to this point that Mailchimp looks to be an excellent service overall and the features they provide far surpass the services provided on the former system we were using at Godaddy. So overall, it appears they are an excellent service and probably worth the price at whatever level you might need to use them.
But there is a difference between service and world class customer service and that is my message. And I experienced a couple of situations with Mailchimp that reminded me of this difference.
Too, it should be understood this is during my first “30 days” as their customer in which they promise full support whenever I need. This is their opportunity to shine so I decide on how much I like them you might say. SO their first error perhaps was when I asked them via their email support system a question about the service. They responded fairly quickly (not as quickly as our company would since it took them a couple of days), quickly enough at least that I didn’t feel ignored. When they completed their response as might be typical they closed with the proverbial “if you need anything else please don’t hesitate to ask.” Well, I did, since the answer to the question led to another question for me and so I responded to the email with this question. never did hear anything back on that but eventually I had moved on and somehow figured it out for myself. But I don’t forget how the follow-up was never made. (Nor any follow up at this point a couple of weeks into the service to ask how I am doing or if there is anything I need). Both of these would be part of world class customer service.
But to me, the biggest part of world class customer service is recognizing a customers particular issue that if solved/resolved might actually lead to a better service for all and so if it is possible to find the solution do so and if not tell the customer why it is not possible at the same time letting them know how it is a very valid thought. Let me explain.
When you set up a form on Mailchimp their is a particular field they provide that is already coded called “website”. This is for the respondent to type in their website in the form. Obviously you could just make a text field with that label but the fact it is already coded says something about making our configuration of a form easier and faster as well as the ease of automated categorization of data already built-in on the back-end perhaps.
However, when I made and tested a form I noticed that if this “website” field is a required field and you do not preface with “http://” it will throw an error saying “please enter a valid url”. Now for me it was easy to figure out I needed to include http:// to my web address in the field. But I know from over a decade of usability testing for a lot of users that there are some that simply wouldn’t think about that and wonder why their “valid” www.something.com web address wasn’t working. Immediate frustration.
So, if I was to fix this I would either make it so http:// wasn’t required or at the last the error message said “http:// is required”. As a workaround I included in the label that http:// was required. Point is, always makes things as easy as possible and assume the person using the system is not all that tech savvy. Now it seems to me and I could be wrong that either of those solutions would be an easy fix and then this issue would never come up with someone less tech savvy than myself. Some might say I am nit picking here and maybe I am to some extent but that is part of world class customer service to me which is finessing what you do to the nth degree or as I like to call it seeking perfection. I understand you probably can never realize perfection but the point is to never stop seeking perfection.
This was the answer I got (emphasis is mine):
“I certainly understand your concern and why this seems counterintuitive. I was able to look into your account and I did notice that you have changed the title of the required form field for “website” to add the wording for “Must start with http://” which was going to be one of my suggestions. Another thing that can be done is adding a “text” field onto the sigup form which won’t have restrictions on this and you can still make it a required field so subscribers have to fill this out and they can enter a variation of the website such as “mailchimp.com” or “www.mailchimp.com” or “http://mailchimp.com”, in essense any variation will work.
This should get you going in the right direction but please feel free to reach back out to us if you have any other questions or need any assistance, we are always happy to help! Thank you for contacting MailChimp support.”
The above answer is my description of “service.” You cannot really fault a company I suppose for giving you “service.” But what sort of bothered me about the answer and how it is separate from what I consider to be world class customer service is a couple of things.
The part about adding a text field to do something that is already coded into the system via another field specifically made for this content is what I would call counter-intuitive, not the issue I mentioned. The fact that the field requires preface of http:// for entering an url I don’t really see as being counter-intuitive. I see it as being what I would call ultra techno-literal.
Of course, the idea of using a simple text field that the support person mentions, is an acceptable answer as far as a solution goes. But why even have the built in “website” field in the form builder? And if you have it in there why does it “REQUIRE” http:// when you might realize it probably will be an issue when non technical persons enter their url into the field? What is the point of that unless it solves some sort of internal coding requirement and is required thereof? And if it is required why can you not change the error message to reflect that instead of just saying “You must enter a valid url” when that in and of itself likely will confuse some people.
So it is with those questions in mind that I find the closing response of the support person “please feel free to reach back out to us if you have any other questions or need any assistance, we are always happy to help! ” to be annoying and not what I would call world class customer service but simply, “service”. Again, don’t get me wrong I am not knocking Mailchimp per se, because I did get service and overall they are probably a great company. Just making the distinction between mere service and world class customer service.
World class customer service would have addressed it more completely. Would have pointed out perhaps how my questions made perfect sense but explained with a simple explanation that this had of been considered and there was some important reason it was being done that way that overrode any consideration about simplifying it for non technical respondents. Or would have said, hey that’s a great idea we’ll have our technical people look into this. (and actually followed up on that. World class customer service goes the distance). Or, at the least might have said “perfectly understood, we can’t really change that but we can make the error message more clear” (and then followed up by having the error message changed) (which in my opinion is the easy fix for this particular issue). But to say, well don’t use it, make your own, well I can do that but it seems counter-intuitive.