Customer Service Extremes

Customer Service

Photo thanks to Thad Zajdowicz

It’s amazing sometimes, how different the customer service response can be from different businesspeople.

I experienced a stark example of this recently, in email correspondence with two people who both provide web-based products and services.

So here’s a story about customer service extremes – from best to worst.

The Background …

As is the case for many other small businesses such as ours, we have a very limited IT budget – and I do most of the ‘back end’ work myself for our domains, website and blogs.

We also keep the cost of those down as much as we can. We decided to use WordPress as the platform for them and Zen Cart for our shop, both of which are free for commercial use. There was a significant learning curve for me initially with both of these, though I’m quite proud of how much I’ve managed to pick up. :)

Although it’s true we initially try to find free options for plug-ins, templates or add-ons to our sites, we do pay for what we can when we can. So there are a number of items for which we’ve initially installed the free version, along with other items we’d like to have, which on our ‘wish list’.

We prioritise and purchase these when possible as we go along. After all, even though there are many software or plug-in developers who generously offer some of their products for free, we’re well aware that they also are trying to make a living! :)

So it’s in that context I’m sharing this story…

Last week I’d emailed two people, from both of whom we’d been using a free version of their offerings.

Customer Service at its Best …

Picaflor Azul for Excellent Customer ServiceOne was Anne from Picaflor Azul, who designs and develops beautiful templates for Zen Cart. She offers some of her templates for free, one of which I’d downloaded and customised for our own shop.

I wrote to thank her, saying that we were not able to purchase a template just now, but that I appreciated the free template and thanked her for how easy it was to install and customise for our site.

Anne wrote back saying that our shop looked good, and that she was very happy we’d found the template useful.

My experience with Anne – her graciousness in responding to someone using one of her free templates, and the complete absence of ‘sales pushiness’ – means that I will now with confidence recommend her to others.

And not only will I be sure to try and match her generosity in a fitting donation for the free template as soon as we can, but when we want to engage someone to revamp our Zen Cart shop (as will no doubt be the case at some point) she will be the first person I contact.

So if you are using Zen Cart, here’s how you can get in touch with Anne:

Picaflor Azul (main website)

Picaflor Azul on Facebook

Follow Picaflor Azul on Twitter

And you may also want to check out Anne’s excellent Easy Help Zen Cart Tutorials!

… and Customer Service at its Worst!

The other person with whom I’d been in touch, was a guy who develops and sells plug-ins for WordPress. I’d written to ask him how much the pro version of one of his plug-ins would cost – both for a single site, and for multiple sites.

He replied with those prices, adding that he knew his plug-in would be a great asset for our business. I then wrote back to say we’d not be purchasing right now but that I’d made a note of the price and we’d be in touch if and when we were ready to do so, explaining the tightness of our current budget.

What a contrast there was in the response I then received from him – which arrived shortly after my reply from Anne!

He told me this was ‘freeloader mentality’, and sent me a link to this article about ‘Freetards‘!  He added that this mentality was encouraged by ‘those turkeys‘ over at DIY Themes, the developers of the Thesis theme (which we use for all our websites). After another strong “plug for his plug-ins”, which he said no business WordPress site should be without, he finished by saying “Perhaps we’ll see you later“.

He also said to me in a subsequent email:

If this email makes you feel a little bit bad, no problem. You’ve earned it. Don’t waste busy people’s time if barking is too much for your nerves.

See me later? I think not!

I’ve uninstalled the free plug-in from this person’s company and wouldn’t dream of purchasing his products or services. And I most certainly don’t feel confident to recommend him or his company to anyone else!

You will notice I’ve not named him, the plug-in or his company here. I feel that would be unprofessional of me … after all, he may simply have been having a particularly bad day. :)

But, although I was as yet only a potential customer, his poor attitude to customer service means he’s now lost me completely as either a customer or a source of referrals.

It all goes to show that, in business, we can never be too careful in what we say or what we put in writing in an email.

Hmmm, given his customer service approach, perhaps I should consider sending that bloke a complimentary copy of our “How to Lose Customers Without Really Trying – The A to Z Guide” … :)

But somehow I doubt it would help him.

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