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Minding Your Own Business
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How not to handle customers: My experience with DotsterViews: 812
Mar 25, 2005 6:52 pmHow not to handle customers: My experience with Dotster#

Martha Retallick

I've been trying to do a domain registration transfer from another registrar to Dotster. I've used this outfit for years. No problems until now.

The domain name belongs to a Web design client, and she has asked me to host her website. So, I really need to get the name transferred.

Dotster has really taken umbrage at the credit card I'm trying to use. I keep getting messages saying that the registration has failed, and that I need to update my billing information.

So, I log in, enter the information for my new credit card, then submit it and proceed to try to make my registration go through. I keep getting these messages that say that my card has not valid. An e-mail to their tech support revealed that my card expired this past January.

That's news to me.

The expiration on that card won't happen for another few years. An e-mail to their tech support triggered even more bad news, that my verification number is wrong. Well, I've been reading that number off the back of my card, then typing it very slowly and very carefully. (It's easy to make mistakes.) Then I review what is on the screen before submitting the information.

In fact, I've been doing this with every morsel of info that I'm trying to enter into their billing info update form. And, given all the practice I've had these last couple of weeks, I'm getting _very good_ at filling out that form.

I've also called Dotster's tech support, which is a long distance call. I was treated to several minutes of waiting, waiting, waiting, but was given no idea how long I'd have to sit here and burn up long distance phone charges. So I hung up.

I've heard, by way of my credit union, that Dotster's system has gotten not one, but two approvals on my credit card within the last week. But no charges have been made. The credit union people also verified what I'd suspect since this whole fiasco started, that there's nothing wrong with my card or the info on it.

And, to add insult to injury, Dotster is now the registrar of record on this name. I just checked this in NetSol.com.

I've found a phone number on their website, 360-253-2210, and it is linked to the company directory. I've been leaving messages on various employees' voice mail, hoping that maybe one of them can help. I haven't had any luck with anything else I've tried and am at my wit's end with these people.

All in all, this is a classic example of a company that couldn't care less about helping its customers.

Martha Retallick

Private Reply to Martha Retallick

Mar 25, 2005 8:34 pmre: How not to handle customers: My experience with Dotster#

kdwells
I haven't been pleased with MOST domain registrants and web hosts. I'm only with the ones I'm with now because I haven't had any unsolvable problems yet. *crossing fingers*

I don't know why this industry is so stereotypically awful. I've only received worse service from my local gas and ex-cellular companies.

~Kimberly

Private Reply to kdwells

Mar 26, 2005 1:02 pmAn opportunity to show "super" customer service#

Denise O'Berry
Martha --

I'm sorry to hear about your experience. Once you ran into problems with the first processing, a human being should have stepped up to the plate for you.

That's exactly what happened with me this week. A customer ordered one of my downloadable products. Her card was declined twice through my shopping cart / card processor due to an AVS mismatch. I called her after the second decline, verified the details of her card and attempted to process it manually. Still no go. By that time I had also gone ahead and manually processed the order so she could have access to the downloadable product. She's sending me a check for the product.

Sometimes, for some reason, technology just doesn't work. That's when a human needs to intervene. And that's where we, as small business owners, can really show our true colors with superior, one-on-one customer service.

Best regards,

Denise O'Berry

Private Reply to Denise O'Berry

Mar 26, 2005 1:13 pmre: An opportunity to show "super" customer service#

Rhonda Bartlett
Denise,

I can only shout Yes! to your reply. We, as small business owners, can make our name resound much louder if we follow up with the excellent customer support that the bigger companies sometimes lack.

Just yesterday, I was talking with a new prospective client and when I told him about the customer service options that I offer (with both my web design projects and my web hosting solutions), he almost sounded "amazed" on the phone to hear of such things.

If we set our minds (and our businesses) to developing the best quality customer service possible, then that is only one avenue leading to our success!

Rhonda Bartlett

Private Reply to Rhonda Bartlett

Mar 28, 2005 10:08 pmre: re: An opportunity to show "super" customer service#

Rick Kershner
For a (small) book on how to do it right, read Guy Kawasaki's "the Macintosh Way" (1990). The following is from Pages 63-64.

----------

Have you ever shopped at Nordstrom?. If you want to provide great support, you should. Nordstrom is a $2-billion chain of department stores from Seattle that is spreading across the United States. You can immediately tell that Nordstrom is a special place because they have a human playing a grand piano in each store, not Muzak. They have incredible customer service. A Nordstrom store forces improvements in customer service in the entire mall. Great service - or support, or whatever you want to call it - is the third essential ingredient in the Macintosh Way.

When Nordstrom messes up, it repairs with a vengence. Amanda Hixson, a former software evangelist at Apple, went to Nordstrom in the Valley Fair Shopping Center in San Jose. She waited for 40 minutes in the women's department and didn't get help, so she went to the business office, borrowed a pair of scissors, and cut up her Nordstrom credit card.

When she got home, her phone was ringing, and there were two messages on her answering machine. It was the manager of the store calling to apologize. As soon as she hung up, her doorbell rang. When she opened it, she saw the florist delivering the biggest bouquet of flowers she had ever seen.

--------

As an exercise he suggests "call the downtown Nordstrom store and ask to speak to Bruce, Jim, or John Nordstrom or John McMillan"

Now, Granted; Nordstrom is a top price / top tier Department store; how can you apply the Attitude, the "Macintosh Way" to your business?

Private Reply to Rick Kershner

Mar 28, 2005 10:44 pmre: re: re: An opportunity to show "super" customer service#

Jo Ann Kirby
So let me get this right, if Nordstrom's knows you're unhappy they go out of their way for you. But what about me who wouldn't be so dramatic? - I'd have just walked out and not returned to the store.

My point is that you need to look at the processes - why wasn't this person served? If one wasn't, than many others - who just walked out, weren't served also. It's not about making unhappy customers happy. It's about not having problems in the first place.

(and that solution wouldn't have made me happy anyway - I'd have wanted a discount!)


Jo Ann Kirby
KRG Communications Group

Private Reply to Jo Ann Kirby

Mar 29, 2005 5:52 amre: re: re: re: An opportunity to show "super" customer service#

Ron Amundson
Imho, its impossible to create cost effective mission critical processes. The backup has to be human intervention, and to do so with a vengence, eg the Nordstrum example.

The outfits that believe process development is the solution to their problems may end up going down in flames, if their processes exclude human intervention outside of the defined procedures. The most glaring example imho was when everyone adopted ISO-9000 ten plus years ago. At least now, most entities view ISO-9000 as an audit only experience, and go back to business as usual once the auditors have left.

More contemporary process issues can be examined in any number of blogs commenting on negative customer service issues. Some of which are really sad. The repair of an Apple Ipod is a prime example. If you bought it retail, great, a human will intervene. It will get repaired. If you bought it direct with engraving, well... highly tuned processes developed for maximum revenue, can't keep up with the business aspects of growth. They are at the point of diminishing returns on process development. As a result, customer service takes a real header, as its no longer cost effective. Thats fine from an accounting standpoint, but sure is not if you are the one left standing with your ipod in a perpertual repair que.

Very much true as far as the non-dramatic types, and the corresponding lack of feedback. Years ago, I did some work for one of the big pharma entities. They had a real problem with one of their OTC products and packaging. If memory serves, they estimated 780 lost customers for every complaint letter they recieved. As such, preventing the problem was the key solution, and they tried just about everything to do so. What they ran into was that the proactive solutions were not cost effective.

I would guess its the same in retail. Although the math models for staffing and daily sales quotas are pretty solid, exceptions do occur. Its generally not cost effective to address those exceptions within the models. The only solution is intervention with a vengeance, and expect that one is going to loose X number of non-dramatic customers. No doubt the stats are on this are rock solid in big retail, thus making it pretty easy to make the call as to when the models need to be tweaked, left alone, or when intervention efforts need to be bumped up.

Still, there is no excuse not to try to optimize processes and procedures. The big issue is how to see all of the true costs involved, and to try and capture the effects of unintended consequences.

Ron

Private Reply to Ron Amundson

Apr 13, 2005 1:12 amre: How not to handle customers: My experience with Dotster#

Zzz Zzz
I have seen this with so many webhosting and domain providers. Many of these companies believe a "let it sell itself" philosophy, which usually includes no support, or unaware, unhelpful support. My company deals with many companies looking for web and ASP hosting as part of their projects, and after all the bad things I have been hearing we decided to partner with the best and invest into a platform that ws rock stable, and hire the best technical support. In the future you might want to check us out. We offer great solutions for web designers and companies alike. Check us out at www.digitalbox.ca

Cheers,

Shaun

Private Reply to Zzz Zzz

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