When tech support rocks

Last week I complained about the nightmare that is calling Verizon. Now I want to blog about what it’s like when tech support is done right.

First, Apple Computer. Apple has always had a reputation for really good tech support, and it’s still well-earned.

I had been having trouble with my CD/DVD drive for a while now. Sometimes DVDs would just stall in the middle. More often, I started having difficulty copying files. I’ve hired photographers for our events who send me files on DVD. I couldn’t copy the data. I would begin the copy, and it would estimate really long times to complete (1-2 hours for 1 GB), and the Finder would typically get stuck in the middle, with no disk activity. If I tried to cancel the transfer after it wasn’t moving for a while, the entire Finder would crash. After this happened with 3 different CD/DVDs, (restarting many times in between) and those disks worked just fine on other computers, I called SOS-APPL under AppleCare on Friday.

Compared to calling Verizon, the experience of calling Apple is great from the first moment. The voice recognition actually works and is quick and easy to navigate. I only had to tell the computer which device I was calling about, and whether I was calling from a school and I was right in the queue. The friendly bot-voice told me accurately how long I could expect to be on hold.

I wish I remembered the CSR’s name, because he was outstanding. Easy to understand, friendly, and very competent. He never once talked to me like I was an idiot. We talked about what could and could not be causing the problem, and what it would involve if it was a hardware issue with the drive that needed to be repaired by Apple. He suggested that I might fix the problem by resetting the SMC. I heard about this, but didn’t realize that it could help CD drive issues. He patiently walked me through shutting the computer down, removing the battery and power supply and holding the power button down for 15 seconds. Then put the battery back and restart. Sure enough, it worked! The same CD that just wouldn’t complete a copy of data before now smoothly moved 1.5GB of data in about 5 minutes.

Next, it’s a shout out for AppExtremes, and in particular Mark Whiteside, the company’s COO. AppExtremes makes a product called CongaMerge which automates mail merges through Salesforce.

Out of the box, you can easily create a report in Salesforce, run it out to Excel and then in to Word for a mail merge. In addition to having to execute all those steps, you also have no easy way to leave an activity entry on records. If you want to run a letter leaving an activity entry (to log that the letter was done), you have to do it one-at-a-time for each record. With CongaMerge, you can create mail merges for multiple records in a couple of clicks, leaving an activity log on each record. Even better, while the initial templates are best set up on a PC, the merges can be run to Word or PDF from any platform, including Mac.

I played with the demo of CongaMerge months ago, but never had a strong case to purchase it. AppExtremes offers a 50% discount for nonprofits ($72 per user per year, minimum 3 users). I have a specific need now where CongaMerge is essential and well worth the $216 annual cost.

I wrote Mark a note, as my demo had long expired. Not only did Mark get back to me quickly on a Saturday afternoon (I would have been fine waiting until Monday, but I was still glad to hear from him), not only did he quickly enable the full version after I said we were ready to buy, but he realized based on something I wrote in an email that I was making something more difficult than it needed to be. He called me this afternoon to catch me before I spent too much time going down the wrong path (yes, it’s Sunday but I answered my work # anyway). We ended up having a great conversation, complete with GoToMeeting session to get things set up exactly as it should be.

Talk about going the extra mile for a customer. Thanks, Mark!


4 responses to “When tech support rocks”

  1. Isn’t it lovely when customer service does just that? Like you, we have had both good and ugly this week with Customer Service. The juxtaposition is jarring.

  2. And why is Apple so good when all the others are not? You’d think a small market share would not allow them from spending the money on service. Or is it that they control the software so there aren’t hundreds of companies or programs that are ‘tweaking’ it so they can actually find the cause and fix it? I’ve always heard about the great Apple service.

    It’s a shame it’s the exception not the rule.

  3. Judi,

    I can echo your experiences with Mark Whiteside from AppExtremes – he’s super-friendly, always helpful, and really goes the extra mile to help us and our clients. He shows what “Customer” Service *really* means.

    Marc @ NPower NY

  4. I think it has alot to with with business ethics and general operations. We have a dedicated 24/7/365 team available and ready to deal with customer queries but however when it comes down to dealing with our own affiliates sometimes we get let down. Thank god most of the things that could go wrong are easily fixed by ourselves but I know what it feels like. Especially when you have 15minutes to a meeting and the walls start to tear down around you. Never a good thing but with dedicated individuals and great service there is some saving grace.