A bit ago I made a post saying Customer Support On The Internet Does Not Matter and I went on to give examples of successful businesses (some my own which back then made me take the assistance of usave and change my broadband network)where there was a clear lack of Customer Support, yet they still do very well.

There was a lot of comments talking about that Customer Service online was still important and they made some pretty good arguments as to why. I have given this some thought in the last week and wanted to make a post clarifying my stance.

I have always thought of Customer Service and Customer Support as two different things. I will explain.

Customer Service to me is really all about having good documentation and a easy way to return items. Also quick responses to billing issues.

Customer Support to me is more technical and hand holding of your customers. Examples of this would be installing software, and actually using the product. Answering “Support” questions.

Does that make any sense? I think I have formed these opinions from my background. For years I worked for ISP’s that were mom and pop run for the most part. They believed in good customer support and service. I was part of the support team. We had tons of people that would help customers with EVERYTHING even many things that had NOTHING to do with the ISP. Could be installing printer drivers… or scanner… or whatever or it could be just installing the dial up software to use our services. We would spend HOURS on 1 call at times. Keep in mind we also had VERY comprehensive documentation. Even though we provided AMAZING, OUTSTANDING customer service users would jump to AOL in a second because it was cheaper. They also would jump to broad band in a second because of high speeds. AOL and broadband providers typically had HORRIBLE support and incredible wait times. Anyway guess what? Most of these ISP’s from my hometown are out of business. Even though they provided amazing customer support the users jumped to other services which had better products or cheaper prices but provided hardly any customer support.

BUT these companies did have very good customer service. If you needed to pay a bill they were their for you but if your service did not work then you went to customer support for hours (at times).

So now perhaps the examples I gave will make more sense when I was talking about customer support. Amazon, Google, eBay all have amazing, free or cheap services and provide pretty much zero customer support. BUT they provide good customer service. You can find pretty questions to your answers through there extensive documentation most of the time and if you have a billing or return issue (amazon mainly) they are there for you.

So I still stick to my what I said. Customer Support On The Internet Is Dead. Have good customer service and online documentation and provide the best product. If they can’t figure it out… fu*kem.

By Jeremy Schoemaker

Jeremy "ShoeMoney" Schoemaker is the founder & CEO of ShoeMoney Media Group, and to date has sold 6 companies and done over 10 million in affiliate revenue. In 2013 Jeremy released his #1 International Best selling Autobiography titled "Nothing's Changed But My Change" - The ShoeMoney Story. You can read more about Jeremy on his wikipedia page here.

43 thoughts on “Customer Support On The Internet Revisted”
  1. Well, i agree with you as the most internet supports are almost dead in the succefull affiliate program ! Maybe because they have a lot of request so they reply to the most important but i think it’s not a real, serious reason.

  2. Now that’s a lot clearer. For an internet based company, that makes sense. What could be done, and what larger companies do, is charge for different tiers of support, or charge after a certain number of hours a month. I’ve had some companies blow their monthly time allotment within the first week. Once they get the bill, they learn pretty quickly to make their questions more focused and refer to the documentation before they make the call.

  3. I agree. Otherwise, there would not be such a language barrier when I do finally reach someone working the “support” queue…

  4. Having run several ecommerce sites for clients over the years – I cannot tell you how many HATE emails they get for not following up in a timely manner. 🙂

    With web based business, it is easier to avoid the email for 24 hours than it is to just answer the phone or service desk!

    Good post

  5. […] online” niche you have a lot to draw from. You should also know who the major players are. ShoeMoney, DoshDosh, John Chow, BloggingExperement, John Cow are just a few of the hundreds of quality sites […]

  6. Kind of like the whole reservation thing huh. If you made a reservation the whole point is for the car rental to reserve the car for you. Not give it away to someone else.

    George and me got very upset over that episode.

  7. were you testing to see if it was a real post since there was no affiliate link 🙂 BTW, I agreed with Shoe the first time…

  8. Jeremy, you could put a positive spin on it and say, “Customer NoService is alive and well on the internet”. Or, “customer nosupport is alive and well on the internet.”

    Still, I would say it’s important to publish your phone number right there on the site–so people can call you.

  9. No I wrote a post and when I added the comment it didn’t post. So I wasn’t sure what happened. I think because I didn’t use the code below.

  10. its the same thing shoe. it all falls under the same umbrella. Service satisfaction is what it falls down to.

  11. Hi Shoe,

    You have a great point. Well done. Although I completely agree with your example, I don’t believe the same is true in every industry. Just look at the Lexus car.

    On the lower scale, or commodity market, you couldn’t be more right. However on the higher end, premium market, I still strongly believe customer service will help.

    But good point and excellent example!

  12. Good point. I have the same experience, you perform tech support for years with out complaints, when the contract is up they dump you for someone else for a few dollars less.

    Now for Obama.

    Interesting choice…….When are we going to see a “I LOVE OBAMA” T-shirts on T-Shirt Friday

  13. I think this is wrong not to take care of your customers. So what you are a big company? Don’t you want to keep your customers?

  14. Hey Shoe,

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I’ve owned a few successful companies when they were at their peak and choose to burn them out instead of selling them. By burning them out, I mean by cutting our expenses, support, etc… Its absolutely amazing to me how well this works. I have found that your pain in the ass customers leave almost immediately, but the easy clients stay around for years and just keep on paying with little to no support.

    Wyatt

  15. “If they can’t figure it out… fu*kem” – LOL, is that copyright or can I use it on my TOS page? 😉

  16. When you put it that way, I would be more inclined to agree with you.

    I sell an ebook that has to do with meal planning for vegans and man it’s insane sometimes when people can’t even figure out how to download the damn thing. It can be very frustrating.

  17. I agree… but the problem is when you do have a clear terms and conditions, as well as a FAQ page, and customers still don’t read any of it. Then they complain that they aren’t getting their refund – due to the fact that they didn’t follow the correct return procedure, and call the credit card company wanting all their money back. Then it’s their word against mine. So I end up wasting time dealing with customers who can’t read, and it still comes back to bite me.

  18. True, but crappy service daoes guarantee that they jump for the next lowest price…BTW there will always be a lower price…

  19. I buy Dell over and over, not because I get India when I call for support, but because it works right when I take it out of the box. I search on Google because I can get what I’m looking for faster than any other service. Same concept when I decide to eat McDonalds or Dominos Pizza. I know it’s not good in terms of nutrition or even the best tasting, but I get exactly what I expect everytime and so I buy over and over again.

    Shoe’s post touches more on the concept of “building a system” to build your business. Dell and Google don’t have the best support and McDonalds and Dominos don’t have the best product (in my opinion), but they all have the best system to deliver their product or service.

    On the Internet, successful commerce is about volume. Internet businesses that find a way to sell or serve in a systematic way that best meets customer expectations will be the most successful.

  20. i also think that some people, dont bother to take the time to read your FAQs etc and then send a rude email or post in forums that your customer services is bad before giving you the chance to respond! its tough both sides of the fence!

  21. It’s hard to compete on something other than price on products on the internet because competition is so stiff.

  22. Reminds me of that book “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” it says in order to get what you want, you often have to pay twice the price. Your argument really extends much further than the Internet.

    For example most shops now have a tons of Checkouts and a single point of Contact for Customer Services/Support (which I also agree are slightly different). I distinctly remember one shop, where it had 20 purchase points across the whole top floor, compared to a customer service area with one person in the basement, right hand corner. People are concerned over Value for Money, until they get a problem 🙂

  23. i can see which point shoemoney is coming from and he is somewhat right, but i have noticed in designing or services such as programming and others the more customer service you provide the loyal your client becomes. I remember doing a site for this client, a very nice guy. Provided him with a quality designs. In the future, made changes to fit his needs. Now the guy recommend me everywhere. He gives me more business. I imagine if i was not nice to the guy he would just walk away, but if you are selling stuff on eBay like a computer or such then i can see customer service is crap because they are going to go where it is offered cheap.

  24. Yeah there’s a difference between the 2 them and when you understand what this 2 difference are, it will be easier for you to servce your customers. Thanks for breaking down the meanings for support and service. It’s a great and new information to me.
    ~Terry

  25. Online Documentation helps a lot. Look at all the open source projects out there. Most of them don’t have any customer support, but everything can be found in online documentation.

  26. I agree with these thoughts. The ability to do returns easily without contacting the company (like amazon) is extremely important. Especially to people like me – I absolutely hate when I need to contact the support team for any company or site.

    However, when I do need to contact them I get extremely aggravated when they are ass holes. I do not necessarily care if they are polite, just don’t be an ass and be efficient when correcting the problem.

  27. I think the main issue is that there aren’t enough mom and pop companies around to be able to provide good service. Even if there were, the “monopolies” would buy them out or crush them all together.

    I guess people are really looking to save that extra buck over getting better service.

    Thanks,

    Richard Rinyai
    http://www.theprofessionalassistant.net

  28. I live in the Philippines. I’ve been working in call center for about 6 years now and supporting Americans. I worked as tech support agent in one of the most selling computers in US and currently working as support team of tech support of a DIAL-UP connection. Common customer bloopers are they refer Microsoft I.E. as microwave I.E. and FireFox as FoxFire. 🙂 One more thing is they thought the modem is their CPU. It’s really hard to give instructions especially if they are not computer savvy.

    Based on my experience I believe SOME still need customer support. A simple click on the start button is very hard for them to understand. If your customer doesn’t know how to connect the internet, how will you apply your “good customer service and online documentation” to them?

  29. Agreed with Stephane Grenier. It depends what you sell. While I agree that an ISP is an ISP to most people, if I depend on my internet service to make me money, you better believe I am going to shell out more for decent customer support. That is why companies like Dell offer Express Tech Support and Time Warner Cable offers Business Class. Some people lose a lot of money if they don’t get support right away.

    If a person makes an average of $500 an hour and has to spend an hour researching a product because the seller has good service but not good support, it very well may be cheaper for that person to just spend more money to get the seller who will actually hold their hand and do the work for them.

    It’s all a matter of identifying if you are a cost leader, a service leader, or a provider of a rare or hard to find good.

  30. I agree about the customer service part at least. Even when I need technical support, I go online first to look for written documentation, tips, bulletin boards where other users have shared their experiences – something written. My first instinct when I’m trying to find out why my Roomba isn’t vacuuming right all of a sudden is to hit the internet and see what other people have said or if the company has any troubleshooting info on their website – not to call the company, which seems like a huge hassle. Of course, part of the reason it seems like such a huge hassle is that I’ve experienced such horrible customer support from big companies like SBC, AT&T, and DishNetwork over the years, over the phone, and now when I have to call anyone for support I anticipate hours of being transferred to the wrong person, having to slowly explain the problem over and over, and most of all, being given completely contradictory information by a series of different people because the company hasn’t bothered to train anyone to know what my options really are.

  31. honestly investing in actually have a system that is almost fail proof means in the long run you save money instead of having 100 people answering emails and phone calls all day. Of course theres always gonna be problems but instead try to have a preventive measure in place instead of letting it fall on customer service issues or even creating a more advanced customer support service

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