The Importance of Customer Service and Online Ratings

Wow, I just got off the phone with Seagate technical support…customer service and ratings can make or break your business.  Have you noticed this?  Two very clear examples:

First, My New Smoker

If you haven’t heard, my wife and I took up crossbow hunting this year…pretty romantic huh?  There’s nothing like sitting out in the quiet wilderness with your spouse in the early morning hours, watching birds, squirrels, and the occasional whitetail deer.   Some good friends of ours recently got us excited about smoking our meet, and so as an early Christmas present, my mother-in-law bought us a smoker – but we had the option of choosing which one to get.  So off to Google we went.

I felt a little like the IT guy, comparing firewalls, software products, and customer support ratings.  This is where social media and sites like Amazon really shine.  We must have read hundreds of reviews – some of the products were great, but offered very poor customer service ratings.  Some products just didn’t hold up like they should, others seemed to last forever.  In some cases there where dozens of five star ratings and one or two disgruntled customers.  The point is, we didn’t talk to sales people or look at the manufacture’s website until we had done our homework.

By the time we visited the store, we knew more than our sales person did about smokers. We knew about the defective products that had been shipped, had memorized various customer experiences, understood the various warranties, and even knew what accessories were most likely to be needed.  We knew this smoker runs hot, and that one leaks too much smoke.  This one over here should have had a larger chip tray, and that one has a vent on the back rather than the preferable chimney.

Our sales person finally admitted that we knew far more than he did, and that he really couldn’t help us other than to say, “You can return it within 30 days if you don’t like it”….But the major lesson to me came with the ratings.  The sales person didn’t really have a chance to sell us anything, because past buyers had already done it for him.  They had either blacklisted the product for me, or convinced me, “This is the one!” I knew what I wanted long before I arrived at the store.  In fact, I only visited one store – I knew what I was going to buy before I went shopping.  What are people saying about your services?  Are they turning people toward your company, and driving them away?

My Seagate GoFlex Drive

I bought my Seagate NAS drive in a similar fashion, (although price came into play here.) The GoFlex NAS ratings were mixed, and being an Apple user, very mixed.  In fact, I almost didn’t buy.  The final decision did come down to price.  I just couldn’t pass up the price on this one.  My old drive, a fairly expensive Buffalo drive crashed last year, and the recovery process was very painful.  If you have clients with poor back up solutions, you may want to let them know, it took me several months to restore my data – I procrastinated on getting a second drive to back up the first and…well, what a mistake that was.

So this time I bought two GoFlex drives, with four times the Buffalo capacity, for half the price.  Well, here is the rest of the story…

My GoFlex is suddenly not working – the good news is, I have my data backed up this time!  My first call with GoFlex happened last year when I encountered some issues connecting with Mac.  No problem.  The technician did a great job, walked me through the undocumented process, and had me up and running in no time.  This time it was not so easy. The first technician did some trouble shooting, but ran out of time – or actually, I ran out of time.  That was Basil.  He didn’t seem to really have a plan, but was willing to try.  The next day I worked with Daniel for about 30 minutes.  He was also somewhat clueless about what to do, but gave me some things to try and asked that I call back if they didn’t work.  None of these included reformatting my drive – which I really did not want to hear.  Then today, I was pleasantly surprised when Brian said, “I think you have a bad drive.  We’ll send you a new one!”  Wow, no reformatting, or sending me off to do some complex laborious task – a simple transfer to customer service, and Debbie has a new drive in the mail to me.  All I have to do is ship mine back within 25 days!

Am I likely to recommend Seagate to a friend?  Of course.  This replacement probably costs the company a few dollars, but nothing compared to a flaming review on social media.  How do you respond when someone needs support.  It’s almost always cheaper to respond quickly with a replacement or fix, than it is to tie up hours of consulting time, and risking flaming online reviews.  This sort of response makes my day and leaves me with great feelings toward the companies I’ve bought from. Try it!

© 2012, David Stelzl


2 thoughts on “The Importance of Customer Service and Online Ratings

  1. Thanks Dave. Great info on both. Would you share the name, model #, size and accessories, etc. of the Smoker that you bought? That would save the rest of us a whole lot of time and research. Thanks.

    1. I bought the propane MasterBuilt Smoker – anything electrical seemed to burn out within a year or so, propane ones seem to last. MasterBuilt and SmokeHouse had the best ratings…but Masterbuilt was available locally with a 30 day return policy. That was attractive.

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