Today’s article is a guest post from Webs’ Search Marketing Specialist, Collin Tate.

Originally this post was going to be about my experiences with Zappos, how awesome they are and how businesses both large and small should aspire to completely own customer service the way that Zappos does. Instead, I’m going to chat about an unexpected hero, and how going above and beyond typical customer service creates bonds and develops customer loyalty.

If you’ve ever owned a computer, you know how frustrating it is when things stop working. There’s little worse than when you have an accidental drop, you get a virus, when hardware fails or kids or pets get their little hands or paws on your computer. If you’re like me, you first try to troubleshoot the issue alone. When that doesn’t work, you call a family member or friend who knows their way around computers, hoping that they can fix your problem, all the while praying that you don’t have to call tech support.

Why do some people hate calling tech support? I can only speak for myself, but my own interactions have been with people who have been generally rude and largely unhelpful. So, imagine my dismay when my laptop crashed after a recent firmware update. Immediately my pulse quickened, my hands got all clammy and I started hyperventilating. Not just because my important files and documents were on the desktop (not backed up … D’oh!), but because I didn’t want to dial tech support.

At the time I didn’t know it, but I was in for an awesome customer service experience.

The lady that answered my support call (whose name I don’t remember and can’t locate) was not only cheerful, but extremely helpful and did a wonderful job of helping me troubleshoot my issue. Unfortunately, the diagnosis wasn’t good. I had to send in my laptop. Tech support covered the cost of shipping. All I had to do was schedule pickup. Though this wasn’t remarkable, it was appreciated.

Tech support provided me with a website that allowed me to track my shipment, view where my laptop was in their work queue and stay up to date with the work being done. At any given time I knew what was happening with my machine, which was great.

While working late one night, I got a call from a number I didn’t recognize. I usually let these calls go to voicemail, but for some reason I picked up. It was Laura from technical support calling to give me news. The good news was that they found the issue (fried motherboard) and replaced it at no cost to me. Thank God for warranties!

The bad news was that they tried to recover my data from the desktop, but they couldn’t boot into the Operating System (OS) to get to my files. The only way to boot into the OS was to reinstall it and overwrite my data. I was crushed. Those files were years of portfolio work, ideas, and blueprints for things I hadn’t yet created.

When I asked her if there was any way to recover my data, she initially replied “no, we’ve tried”. And like every other tech support rep I’ve ever dealt with, she began to tell me that “the company is not responsible for your data” and “it’s important to back up data before making updates”, which are all things that I already know. But she stops in the middle of her scripted spiel and says “but, with your permission, we can attempt to copy the contents of your hard drive and install the files on your desktop”. I did a little happy dance when she said these words.

A few days later I got my laptop back with all of my data on the desktop couldn’t be happier. Never will I again make updates to my machine before backing up my data.

Negative Customer Experiences Can Lastingly Impact Business
Thinking back on my calls to tech support departments, I’ve had some okay experiences, but my bad experiences are the ones that I recall most vividly. It was these bad experiences that soured me against all tech support, and I had no plans of changing my opinion anytime soon.

The Convergys U.S. Customer Scorecard for 2011 found that:

Eight out of 10 U.S. consumers who have had a bad service experience tell their friends or colleagues, often using social media and other new communications. More than six in 10 survey respondents have Facebook or Twitter accounts, or their own blog, while four in 10 own smartphones or other mobile devices/tablets with data plans. And it’s there where some of the most significant damage to company reputations and therefore, sales, can occur.

Therefore, it’s critically important that businesses of all types and sizes work hard to deliver great experiences for customers. Not doing so could cost your business customers and revenue.

The recent Webs article How Much Does Bad Customer Service Cost? really drives home the point that negative reviews as a result of bad customer service wreak havoc on a company’s profitability and that when it comes to finding and keeping customers, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. 

Positive Customer Experiences Create Bonds and Develops Loyalty
Fortunately for my laptop maker, their exceptional service not only won me over, but moved me a step closer to becoming a loyal customer. Great customer service goes beyond being friendly, it’s listening, it’s being helpful, it’s showing that you actually care about the concerns of the person on the other end of the phone, chat window, or email address and going the extra mile because you want to.

Hopefully this article demonstrates that positive customer experiences help develop loyalty, generates positive buzz and can win new business.

About the Author: Collin Tate is a Search Marketing Specialist at Webs. Addicted to Kitesurfing. Microsoft Nerd. Dancing Fool. Get more from Collin on Webs’ blog and Google+

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