Good vs. bad customer service

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With the economy in the tank, it's even more important to practice great customer service to keep those paying customers happy. This week, I experienced two divergent examples of customer service in action: BAD: The credit card number I have on file with the Nashua Telegraph, my local paper, was recently changed because of potential fraud. Well, I changed most of the accounts linked to it, but forgot about the paper. Now, the newspaper has been nice enough to call me with an automated message saying my account is not up to date. But the downside: The automated message comes after dinner, which is after customer service is closed. And the automated call service doesn't give me an option to update over the phone through an automated attendant. Instead, I have to remember to call the next day while the customer service department is open. A double whammy: I haven't found a way to update my account over the Web yet. Why not make it easy for me to give you my money? GOOD: My dentist. I've got an appointment coming up in a couple weeks that I scheduled six months ago after my last visit. In the past, the denist's office would call me a day or two in advance to remind me of an upcoming appointment. That's fine, but sometimes a day or two is too late to rearrange a calender if you've overbooked yourself and forget the long ago scheduled dentist appointment. But, today I got an e-mail reminder about the appointment with an added bonus of three confirmation options:

  • Yes, It's on my calendar, but please e-mail me again a few days before the appointment.
  • Yes, I'll be there. I don't need another e-mail or phone call.
  • I have a question or concern about this appointment - please contact me.

Very nice. I can tell them, "Yep, all set" or get a snooze alarm-like option to remind me again. Plus, the e-mail came with plenty of advanced warning so I can ensure that my calendar is indeed clear for the appointment. The dentist is making it easy for me to give them my money (well, my insurance company's money) and business. More companies need to be like my dentist and less like my newspaper. People are rightly becoming more thrifty in these trying times. If they're choosing to give you revenue, don't make it hard for them to do so.

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