A place where my call IS really important
June 18, 2009 12:41 PM   Subscribe

I'm tired of dealing with bad customer service / tech support. What are some ways I can find out the quality of customer service of a company before I give them my hard earned cash? Are there some not weirdo sounding questions or things I could say to a customer service / tech support rep to evaluate the quality of thier service?

I'm aware of BBB, JD Powers, and Consumer Reports. However, I would like to evaluate the quality of the companies personally before I enter into a relationship with them. Basically, I'm looking an acid test that determines if the company has a high quality customer service culture.
posted by bigmusic to Shopping (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Yelp.com ?
posted by Lobster Garden at 1:15 PM on June 18, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestion of yelp.com. But I'm looking for ways that I can personally evaluate a company before entering into an relationship.
posted by bigmusic at 1:20 PM on June 18, 2009

A few years ago I was looking to open a discount brokerage account and was considering three firms. I sent off a question to the "contact us" link (or equivalent) on the website of each of them. The same question to all three, and one which I thought would be fairly easy to answer, but not one so common that it was already in their online FAQs. The one which responded with the correct answer first got my business.

That may not be the best way to evaluate what kind of tech support you could expect for a difficult technical question which might take hours or days for software tech support to answer, but it might work for some instances. Can you come up with a question or two which would be reasonable for a prospective, rather than a current, customer to ask of customer service/tech support?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:34 PM on June 18, 2009 [2 favorites]

DevilsAdvocate's idea is a good one.

It's difficult because the early steps in a C/S process generally include some identification / narrowing down of your issue. (i.e. "please enter your account number" or "press 1 for PC products, press 2 for monitors," etc.

Some thoughts: Ask sales about the customer service. If you're shopping retail - whether brick and mortar or online, sales reps may have some good feedback. Getting valuable insights via e-mail from an online vendor may be tough, since it's in writing, but you may get some candid input via online chat with a sales rep.

Just making a call to a customer service # might lead to some insights. If you've had to go through 13 steps in an IVR and you're now 10 minutes on hold, you may have learned that this isn't the company for you to buy from even before you talk to a customer service rep.

If you're a B2B buyer with enough weight to really look into it, do so. Ask for customer references and follow up on them. Ask some realistic "what if" and "how do you" questions.

Of course, if you're just buying a toaster you may be stuck relying on 3rd party reviews.
posted by altcountryman at 1:38 PM on June 18, 2009

The best way, in my experience, is to do something small because you invest in a relationship with them. When I'm evaluating vendors at work, I always order something that is inexpensive and non-critical before I make the final determination. Pretty self-explanatory, but hey, you asked.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:41 PM on June 18, 2009

do something small because before you invest
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:42 PM on June 18, 2009

This is my second plug for them today, but I read Consumerist religiously and it has really informed my decisions. Sure, you mostly hear the horror stories, but people also send in above-and-beyond stories, too. You can search for the company in question to see if there have been any really egregious actions by them, or to see if there are tons of articles about how shitty they are. They are technically part of Consumer Reports now, but that is a recent thing.
posted by ishotjr at 2:46 PM on June 18, 2009

« Older where can you launch a model rocket in the east...   |   Help me become better at sex Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.