Archive for the ‘Customer Service’ Category

Please Just Say "I Don’t Know"

28 Aug 2017

I suppose it’s human nature to want to look smarter than you really are. But when it comes to customer service, there’s nothing worse than having someone try to help you when they know less than you do. People often fall back to circular talking, trying to say the same thing in different ways, mainly because they don’t know the answer to the question – but they don’t want to concede that fact.

Please Just Say "I Don't Know" | DaveTavres.comSomething I learned very well as a Guest Relations Host at Disneyland was that it’s okay to say “I don’t know… but let me find out for you.” That phrase is powerful and helpful for everyone. The customer won’t get a sense that they are getting the run-around, and the person trying to help doesn’t feel trapped into circular talk. Saying “I don’t know” may not feel good – but it will drive (a good person) to educate themselves on whatever the topic is, so that next time they don’t have to say “I don’t know,” but they can then speak with authority on the issue.

I recently had an hour-long phone call with a business “consultant” who refused to employ the any form of “I don’t know.” The first 10 minutes were the normal niceties and small talk, then we got into my questions. Questions that I have spent a lot of time researching and thinking about – but I wanted a “professional’s” opinion. What I got instead, was someone who knew all the catch-phrases, keywords, and hot topics that they effectively recycled multiple times in the conversation, without actually saying anything. It was very frustrating.

If she had said some form of “I don’t know”, we could have gotten out of the circular talking, and focused on the things she DID know. Instead, I wasted 30 minutes trying to change the topic and questions, but she was stuck. She kept trying to give answers to the previous questions, but she didn’t know what she was talking about. And even when I did try to focus on her experience, she would loop it back to answer the questions I was no longer asking.

I’m sure it’s a subconscious thing that we all do to reassure the person we’re trying to help, as well as ourselves, that we can figure out whatever it is that needs figuring out – but we can’t. If we don’t already have the answer to straight-forward questions (i.e. questions that have a clear answer), no amount of talking through it will give fully satisfactory solution.

Ultimately, if you can’t help the person at all, go find someone who can. Or go find the answers. Everyone will be better off, and you might actually create some trust in the process.

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Posted in Business, Customer Service


Review: Capital One | Spark Business Banking

08 Aug 2017

Bad Customer Service: Capital One's Spark Business Banking |

I recently started a small side-business, filed the incorporation paperwork and looked at business banking options. One of the options that came up was Capital One’s Spark Business Banking.

I filled out all the questions, uploaded the documents they asked for… and never heard back from them again. No email. No phone call. And when I sign into the website, just a message that they have reviewed the documents and will be in touch. But apparently that does not include calling potential customers, or putting a notice on the website after you sign in.

It’s been over a month now, and I need to deposit a check, so I called the number on the website (844-88-SPARK) and talked to someone who was very bubbly, but did not actually listen to what I explained. I told her twice that it had been over a month since I uploaded the required documents, but had not heard from them – to which she responded "How long has it been since you submitted the documents?"

Ultimately, she explained that since they had not heard from me in over a month, that they "closed the account" (an account that wasn’t even opened,) and that I would have to re-apply.

Bad customer service, as usual. If Capital One’s Spark Business Banking can’t be trusted to call me when there’s an issue OPENING an account, how can they be trusted with my money?

Review: Capital One's Spark Business Banking | DaveTavres.comReview: Capital One's Spark Business Banking |

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Posted in Business, Customer Service, Reviews


Employee empowerment

31 Jul 2017

One of my hobby websites recently got hacked, which caused a bigger problem on my web hosting account. It happens. It’s fixed now, but the incredible frustration that came from it wasn’t caused by the hack itself, but by the bad "technical support" people.

Employee empowerment | DaveTavres.comI’m very aware of businesses trying to keep costs down so they can increase profits and put money back into the business for further growth. BUT, at what cost? It’s *VERY* unlikely that I’ll continue to recommend my current web host because of the run-around I had to work through recently.

I worked tech support MANY years ago, when call queues and ticket counts weren’t as important as they are today. Thankfully in the early 1990s, I had great teachers, trainers, and co-workers who worked pretty well as a team. Sure, even I got cocky after hearing the exact same calls over and over again, and I didn’t always listen to the customer. But, the early 90s was a different time. I had tons of training, helping people using Windows 3.1, who were trying to use the internet. I’m confident in saying that I had more knowledge and training about Windows and internet technology than 99% of the customers who called in. Today though, there are a lot of people smarter than first-tier tech support.

I think the biggest lesson any business / leadership / management can learn is to empower their employees. That means, let them take the time (reasonable time) to work through a problem. Or, if they aren’t completely confident in their solution, let them escalate it BEFORE the customer becomes irate, or just ditches the product / service. Yes, ticket analytics are important, but NOT more important than customer service. Period.

A2Hosting | DaveTavres.comA2Hosting caused me, literally, hours of frustration and anxiety, as I tried to figure out the solution to the problem, simply because the first several "techs" wouldn’t let go of a wrong premise – even when I told them they were wrong, and most likely BECAUSE I told them they were wrong, as well as a probable push by management to get tickets closed quickly.

Luckily, after several tickets and phone calls, and hours and hours of waiting, I finally asked that the ticket be escalated. And guess what… THAT person figured out the issue within MINUTES. Problem solved. I’m fairly sure that Ross took the time to READ what I had written before replying. And thankfully, he also had the knowledge and experience to figure out what was wrong.

I’ll concede that it does take more than just employee empowerment to give good customer service – it takes good management (which is more often the problem in the first place.) It also takes committed employees. If someone doesn’t care about their job, it doesn’t matter how much training and power they have, they’ll still give bad customer service. Which is why it’s just as important to hire AND FIRE well. Listen to this story from NPR about Zappos.

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Posted in Business, Customer Service, Technology


AVOID Skadate! – Lack of tech support

25 Jun 2017

AVOID Skadate! – Lack of tech supportSkadate – AVOID THEM!

Sadly, I started a website using the Skadate software, and it has been a nightmare from day 1.

LOTS of people have complained about Skadate. I’m not the first. BUT, the most people I can steer AWAY from Skadate, the better. They operate under the name "Skalfa LLC" as well.

One of the *ONLY* redeeming things about Skadate / Skalfa, was the customer community forum. There were THOUSANDS of entries with hundreds and hundreds of solutions to the countless problems Skadate has… and today, when I’m trying to figure out and solve a problem with the software, they’ve REMOVED the forum!!!!

SKADATE REVIEW / SKALFA REVIEWSI only found out because their "Pre-sales" live chat person told me that it was taken down, but they are putting it back "on Monday." I HIGHLY doubt they’ll have it back up on Monday – and I suspect they will have removed all of the useful history. BUT, let’s say that they DO bring it back up, and all of the existing information is there… WHY did they take it down in the first place? They could have left it up, but disabled the ability to add new comments, so that CUSTOMERS could still make use of the information while they retool it. (For REAL software development companies, THAT is how they do it!)

Again – BEWARE of Skadate / Skalfa!

Trust me, this is just the latest in a DOZEN issues I’ve gone crazy over. I’ve just never written about them – but going forward, I’m going to share EVERYTHING they say, in the hopes that other SUCKERS like me don’t fall for their sales pitch.

Here’s the full transcript of my chat session with them tonight:

Chat transcript

Sabrina – Sat, 06/24/17 11:43:16 pm America/Los_Angeles
Hi! Do you want to start a dating website with iOS & Android? I’m here to help.

Client – 11:43:16 pm
Where’s the URL for the community support forum?

Sabrina- 11:43:46 pm
Are you a SkaDate Customer?

Client – 11:43:51 pm
I use to find other customers on the forum who had answered questions…

11:44:10 pm
I already submitted a ticket to "support", but the answer might already be in the community forum.

Sabrina – 11:44:43 pm
May I please have your name and email?

Client – 11:44:50 pm
Dave Tavres –

Sabrina – 11:45:08 pm
Thank you! Hold on please

Client – 11:50:02 pm
? Hello?

I just want the URL for the community forum

Sabrina – 11:51:28 pm
Dave, I was told that the Forum will be activated on Monday.

Client – 11:51:43 pm
Huh? It’s been up for a few YEARS

Sabrina – 11:52:39 pm
Yes, they upgraded the Client Area but no Forum yet.

Client – 11:52:52 pm
Fine – where is the OLD forum?

I just want to search for existing solutions.

Sabrina – 11:53:59 pm
I understand but it is disabled now. You will have the access to Forum on Monday

Client – 11:54:29 pm
!!!!!! WHY DO YOU GUYS SUCK SO MUCH?! You don’t have 24/7 tech support, and now you TAKE AWAY access to the only USEFUL information?!

Can you have someone answer my support ticket NOW then?

Sabrina – 11:55:25 pm
I’m a pre-sales operator. I do not have access to customers accounts. You will need to wait til Monday when support team is back to work.

Client – 11:55:37 pm
Yeah… figures.

Duration: 12m 36s

Chat started on:

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Posted in Business, Customer Service, Marketing, Reviews, Software, Technology


Bank idea for potential fraud charges

19 Jun 2017

chase_logo[1]I do *love* that banks will decline charges on your card when they think the charge is fraudulent. It has the potential to save me a lot of time, and save the bank a lot of money. Of the 20 or more times I’ve had it happen in my life when my card was ‘on hold’ because of unusual spending, it’s never been a terrible inconvenience, considering the work they are doing on the back-end to help protect us both.

I recently got a short survey from Chase Bank after they declined an unusual charge. The charge was mine, but their process to unblock left something to be desired. They left me a voicemail telling me to call their fraud department using an 800 number. Well, scammers could just as easily leave that message, so I searched the web for the 800 number. No where to be found. I went to the Chase Bank website and searched for the number – again, nothing found. I checked my personal email for a message – nothing. I checked my "private Bank idea for potential fraud charges | DaveTavres.cominbox" on the Chase website for my account – again, nothing. I double-checked for txt messages on my phone, and again, nothing. My red-flag-meter started cranking up, feeling pretty sure that this lonely voicemail, supposedly from Chase Bank, was in fact an identity thief or scammer. So I finally called the 800 number on their website.

This is the frustrating part. I had to wait and get transferred twice to get to the right department – verifying an amazing amount of information each time. Then when I finally got the right person, and got verified, I confirmed the charge and they removed the block on the card. Done. Okay, it only took 20 minutes of my life, but it’s still slow and frustrating. So, here’s the idea – and some banks already do some of this…

First – send email, txt, and a private message on the bank website.

Second – have a published number on the official bank website.

Third – have two big buttons (links) in the email/txt/message that say "I VERIFY THIS CHARGE" or "BLOCK THAT CHARGE".

If you click the "VERIFY" link, you’re taken to a bank webpage where you only have to enter a single keyword, phrase, or password to prove that it’s YOU, and not an identity thief who has your phone. If you click the ‘Block’ link, you’re taken to the Bank webpage where you do not have to enter a passphrase, you just confirm that you don’t know what the charge is – which should then prompt a call from the Bank.

Pretty simple. And of course, this should be opt-in/opt-out. Some people want the phone call, or they don’t want emails, txt messages, etc. Personally, I want it to be easy. This is pretty easy.

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Posted in Business, Customer Service, Technology