In the book “Zen And The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert Pirsig a father tries to teach his son the basics of life, which also happens to coincide with the basics of business.
People who do more than the basics and actively listen and help people will succeed. Companies that do more than only what is required are rewarded with happier customers, more referrals and better profits.
A few pleasant surprises
I called ATT Wireless I was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by a friendly US based worker who was genuinely happy to talk with me. I had a problem with extra international roaming charges, and was billed an extra month for ATT world connect.
The ATT rep cheerfully removed this charge and apologized because her ribs were hurting from being thrown from a horse the previous weekend. She said it hurt to laugh, which she frequently did. In 5 minutes I was on my happy way.
Alaska Air is the default airline on the West Coast and I have had positive experiences with them. Their customer service is helpful and generally very effective. After booking a flight I found an online fair for $50 less than what I had paid. After some negotiations with them, Alaska agreed to give me a $50 voucher for my next ticket.
In the extremely competitive, low margin air travel market I think this was a deal and thank Alaska very much.
Not so good service
I received a free printer from Hewlett Packard and tried to install the driver on my Mac. No luck, the computer would not recognize the printer. So I had to call tech support and work with them for 1 hour to resolve the problem.
I had to download the latest driver (190MB, HP how in the heck does it take this much code to run a printer?) from their extremely unfriendly, unclear and unusable website. If HP had just taken the time to install the latest driver in the printer box, they would have saved themselves the support call, which probably ate up their profit margin on the printer.
Paypal still has nearly nonexistant customer service, and tries to hide their phone number as best they can 402-935-7733. They have the nearly useless “Ask Jenn” automated help robot that sometimes answers general questions.
If you have a detailed question, expect to wait 1 week+ for an answer from a non US based support center.
I think this post will grow as new customer service situations present themselves.