RIP, CS @USA

01/14/2010

I started a project in 2007 and it required a website. So I employed the service of a web design firm Glenlivet based on recommendations by several acquaintances. Due to the complexities involved with the project, the website could not go live until recently. In the last days, I was desperate to fine tune the website as much as I could to get it up as quickly as I could, and I became quite dissatisfied with the service Glenlivet provided me.

At the beginning, Glenlivet had an in-house expert who was knowledgeable in web hosting, e-commerce, and everything else that made websites functional. But half way through my project, the relationship between Glenlivet and the expert was terminated, and Glenlivet formed a partnership with a consulting company down the street. While partnerships like this have worked well for many people, theirs was a special kind of travesty for me.

Long response time
All correspondence with the consultant had to go through my account manager at Glenlivet. So if she was not at her desk, my questions did not get asked. I would send her an email before office hours with questions, and I would not hear from her until well after 3pm. Now, these were easy questions for the consultant, so a six- to seven-hour response time seemed long to me. If the consultant needed clarification from me or I from him, I would send another email as soon as I heard from my account manager, but I would not hear from her again until the next day.

Unhelpful replies
Another annoyance that came with the modus operandi was that the consultant could almost never answer my questions correctly the first time. It was because my account manager had even less understanding of the technical aspects of the website than I had. My questions usually made little sense to her, so she often misinterpreted them. The consultant was very confused at times. At the end, my account manager realized she was the lock jam and removed herself, but days had been wasted at that point.

No control
During the last days when I tweaked the website before its launch, I noticed the things that I could do to my website were very limited. A very simple example, after a visitor submits a comment on the website, he would receive an email notification that acknowledges his submission. The email notification I received from testing my website was unedited and unformatted with codes in it. When asked, the consultant said the email notification could say whatever I wanted it to say, but only he could implement changes. I thought I should be able to change the content in the notification freely, so I pushed him more, and eventually he gave me access to the editor.

“Anticipate, McGee McGlenlivet.”
There is only one point that I would like to make with such a long story. The point is that there can be no good customer service without anticipation of customers’ needs. My account manager and the consultant knew I was in the home stretch with my website. In my opinion, 1) my account manager should never have been a hindrance to begin with. But in any case neither of them should have let two weeks go by before allowing a direct connection between the consultant and I; 2) they should have continued to check email beyond office hours to facilitate the launching of my website; and lastly 3) I should not have to ask for access to every feature individually. The world is all about empowerment now, seeding for future businesses by severely crippling your customers is just a bad model.

My two cents.

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