Customer service... e-mail vs. telephone

Discussion in 'Apple, Inc and Tech Industry' started by mkrishnan, Aug 18, 2007.

  1. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus


    Jan 9, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    This article ran in the Times this last week...

    I thought this article was very interesting, because I have conflicted feelings. Not so much in this case about offshoring and protectionism vs. globalization, but about the issue of how I receive customer support.

    As an example, I had an issue with a migration change in my IT system affecting my Blackberry. I thought about it, realized I needed a technical solution that was easy to outline in text, logged into T-Mobile, and sent a customer support e-mail. I'd prefer this route because it allows me to clearly input all the information, and it should have been a slam dunk for the person on the other end to solve. The problem came in the immediate auto-reply acknowledgment... that the predicted response time for the e-mail was 72 hours.

    That is not acceptable. Particularly not to a Blackberry user. :eek: ;)

    So, having made that ticket, I called tech support anyway. It turned out to be a relatively complicated call, because T-Mobile had RIM walk me through the solution. They did, however, over about 30 minutes on the phone, find me a good solution.

    Interestingly, three days later, I received an e-mail with essentially an equally good self-service solution, which I acquired along the way while on the phone with RIM. Specifically, when the BIS is automatically picking the wrong settings for an e-mail account, you can override them by entering in the account with no password, enabling a hidden screen that lets you specify more advanced options vs. the normal automatic configuration ... the person from RIM essentially did a beta test on his computer to make sure this would work for me, and then walked me through the same thing. The person doing the e-mail tech support gave me the solution but hadn't been able to verify that it would work as the phone person did; however, as it was correct, that's slightly irrelevant.

    Anyway, this brings me to the conundrum... I don't really like either of these approaches... I want to use a combination of contact mechanisms (phone and electronic), with seamless coordination of contacts of both kinds. I expect that, when possible (most of the time), I should be able to be walked through a solution to my issue on the phone during the initial contact, which means I might invest 30-60 minutes on the tech support call. However, when I do e-mail, I also expect a 30-60 minute turnaround. 72 hours is absurd. If a person is available to answer my call and walk me through an issue over the course of an hour, why does it take the same company three days to respond to an e-mail with the same request in it, which they are able to process in whatever kind of multitasking environment they need?

    I'm a "bad" customer for seeing the "good customer" option to do e-mail tech support and then overriding it and asking to speak to a human, but only because of this 72 hour business.

    Anyway, also incidentally, I'm giving Blockbuster's Total Access a try, not because of the e-mail/phone issue, but because I want to see how the store integration works... I'm not sure how long I'll keep it. I tried Netflix about 8--9 years ago, when it first debuted, and while I'm sure it's tremendously better now, I am curious about the competition.

    Any thoughts on the issue of e-mail and phone tech support?
  2. yg17 macrumors G5


    Aug 1, 2004
    St. Louis, MO
    I prefer phone support, lets me get answers quicker. Only exception is when my call ends up getting transferred halfway around the world, then I like e-mail. But since Netflix's call center is in Oregon, that's a non-issue.

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