The latest fad in satisfying customers, taking the place of authenticity, is empathy. Most of the empathy I observe is decidedly inauthentic, which I think is a sad misfire, but the idea is sound: Let the customer know you understand the problem and you’re going to help.
Sorry to pick on Microsoft (no, I’m not) but they have a curious tone deafness about customer service and about process; things Apple has down to a science.
I was at the Microsoft store with a dead, in warranty, Surface RT. The service I experienced was adequate, but missing the human touches. Ironically, they’re spending the funds, implementing competent programs, but falling short.
Their first comment was not empathetic, did not acknowledge there was a problem, did not suggest they would take care of my problem. It was, “When did you buy it?”
The person I saw tried a different charger. The person she sent me to tried a different charger and made me an appointment to see a technician. When I saw the tech, he tried a different charger. None of them communicated with the others.
When the tech came out, he didn’t say hi, didn’t acknowledge the customer’s problem, he just went to work.
Finally having confirmed it was dead, they offered to replace it on the spot! Excellent! But then they found they did not have any replacements so they would send it to the repair facility. Once it arrives there, they will immediately ship me a replacement unit. I asked, “Since you have this unit in your hands now, can you have them ship the replacement now?”
“No, this has to arrive there first. The system won’t allow us to ship one immediately.”
“Apple does,” I said. Grin.
“I know,” he said. Shrug and grin.
I will be getting a replacement in a week or so, which is adequate performance (though Apple does it in a day). But it could have been superior performance and stellar customer satisfaction — at no increase in cost! It would not cost them to smile and say they will help me. Eye contact is free. Shipping when the computer said the unit was in the store’s custody instead of waiting several days costs not a penny more.
But they’re not inclined to think that way. It’s a company-DNA issue. Not unlike their software. They have some of the best user interface labs in the world but they don’t fix the problems; they just layer on a new wizard.
Postscript: It’s been
a week 10 days and the replacement unit is still not here and we have heard nothing. Sadly for Microsoft, I’ve been conditioned to expect better.