Major Rant on Customer Service (not)


I'm really angry at the fact that we see regularly posts like this in many forums around the Internet:

This works perfect for me. Dont understand why this happens. Shouldn't [vendor name redacted] sort this out??? Im going to contact their sales rep about this. If it wasnt for these forums we would be lost.

"If it wasn't for these forums we would be lost." If that isn't a cri de coeur about the state of customer service in the automation industry, I don't know what is. The fact that more and more, we're seeing end users and integrators forming self-help comunities using the resources of Web 2.0, is an indictment of the ability of many automation system vendors to properly support their customers.

Why do end users not call their vendor service departments?

Why do they go to the Automation List, or our own Ask the Experts forum, or similar forums scattered around the Internet instead of working with the people who are supposed to be there for them?

Is it because they're afraid of their vendors?

In the computer and electronics part of the high technology industries, reducing prices and high volume sales have essentially destroyed customer service. But the automation part of the high technology industries doesn't have that much pricing pressure...average margins are still extremely high, and volume is relatively low.

So there's no real excuse for automation suppliers to post FAQ pages, customer self-help forums, and try to reduce the personal contact with service reps after the sale (the part that really costs money).

Yet based on the number of people who post things like, "My [name of vendor deleted] [name of product deleted] isn't operating properly. Here's what it does..." instead of calling the vendor, I think we have a problem.

In fact, over the past 5 years, we have seen a decline in service scores when we've asked our readers to rate vendor service quality.