Rob Kalin from Etsy has referred to customer support as marketing and Etsy has significantly enhanced its customers support team to cut down response time dramatically. Danny Meyer in his book Setting the Table and the actual operations of his restaurants also makes helping the customer central to the experience. I believe this to be especially important in an age where a customer whose problem is not addressed can tweet and blog about it as I am about to do with regard to my recent experience with Netgear.
In 2006 I purchased a ReadyNAS NV+ that has served as my home media storage and TimeMachine backup since. Recently it started behaving strangely by suddenly losing power without the log files showing anything. I started a thread in the ReadyNAS forums and someone provided a terrific diagnosis of the problem. As it turns out, I need a new power supply unit (PSU) — my ReadyNAS model belong to a group with known PSU problems.
So yesterday I call Netgear customer support to order a replacement PSU. At first things were going just fine. I get a human quickly after navigating the phone tree and she understand the basic issue. But then she said that in order to process my request she needs to register my ReadyNAS. I provided her with the serial number off the back of the device and was told that it is “not a recognized serial number” and so she could not register it.
Instead, I had to take a photograph of the Serial Number and email that to a customer service address which would have a 2 week turnaround time!
It was clear that she could do nothing else for me at this point and so I went home, took a picture and emailed it in. Amazingly, there was not even an automatic reply saying they had received it (and yes, I checked my spam folder).
So now I am in customer service limbo. This is all the more amazing since I told the rep that I was completely prepared to pay for the PSU. After all, the device is over 4 years old and I really don’t expect the PSU to be covered by warranty. I will provide an update on how this goes, but so far Netgear is losing a terrific opportunity …
[Update: Just checked the forums again and the newest reply points out the part number for the PSU, so hopefully I will be able to buy directly]