Customer No Service

Clark Howard, the Consumer Advocate I listen to on the radio talks about “Customer No Service” which refers to a company not empowering their people to solve problems. I had a customer no service issue yesterday.

Over the past 20 years I have used MyDomain.Com to register and hold a number of domain names for me. These are ones I collected over the years and renewed when they expired. When I started reselling hosting services I used a different company which is actually a bit cheaper because I pay wholesale prices in stead of retail prices like I do at MyDomain.

Two months ago I renewed quite a few domains but I missed one and it expired. Each Registrar has their set of rates that they must pay to conduct their business and they also have a set of rates that they charge. The difference as with all businesses is their profit to run their business and rate they charge customers varies among companys which is why your price varies.

So when a domain expires, it ceases to function, usually going to a generic page run by the registrar saying the domain is not available or up for sale, etc. If the domain is an active one, customers call the company and ask where it went. If a domain is just sitting awaiting use or perhaps just used for email, things just stop and the owner may not realize what has happened. The domain can usually be renewed and made active again for the normal price of $12 or so.

After 30 days the price goes up, in my case it was $99 to get it back. I opened a chat with Customer Service.

Using a script the person assured me that they could help. It is a standard cut and paste script to start. This is usually to instill confidence and perhaps to also cover up that the agent does not speak English as a native language. This is the first line of defense a company has to protect its call takers from technical people behind the scenes. When I worked in I.T. for Hewlett Packard, I sometimes had to call our own help desk to request help from another team. Our call agents had a script (which we also helped write) which asked specific questions and based upon answers would direct the agent to ask a different set of questions or route the call.

For regular office workers they might be asked to check the front panel, are their lights? Is the unit connected to electricity? Has it been moved recently? The standard “Can you turn it off and on again?” which often solved the problem and made the help desk look really helpful. As you can imagine, we as technical people ourselves had already done steps 1-20 and then some and having to wait through obvious steps for us to get to the next level took forever. We added a step at the beginning of these script (or decision trees) whereby we could give a code to bypass the first level of support, perhaps “This is a code 17 call” whereby the call taker would transfer out call to the same technical level we were so we could all talk in the same language.

This type of call I was making was not of a real technical nature, it was procedural. I asked what was the cost to get this domain name back. He looked at the information on his screen and the answer was $99. I asked if they could reduce that charge based upon the number of domain names I had and the length of time I had been a customer. The agent said “Let me check” and put me on hold. This means that the person on the phone has no authority to make a simple decision. When he came back and said “No”, I thanked him and disconnected.

Because MyDomain either didn’t consider me a great customer or wants to be steadfast in their pricing doesn’t matter. I opted to move my 25 domains to my own hosting platform. Some of these domains had been with this company for 20 years and they received profit all during that time. Yes, I admit the problem was more than likely my own and I probably should have noticed this domain had expired and weeks ago could have had it back at the usual price. Regardless of how much MyDomain as a company has to pay thge powers that be for these long expired domains, they could have taken a small amount of their profit and kept me as a customer.

While I was going through the automated process to tell them to email me the secret code to each of the 25 domains so I could move them, I decided there must be a way to highlight all domains and ask for the codes. You can certainly renew them by highlighting certain ones and clicking RENEW. So I opened a chat and got another agent and the saga starts again. “How can I highlight multiple domains and request to port them away?”. “I can certainly help you with that”, the opening script is sent to me. “How many domains I am asked and I say all 25. “May I ask why you wish to o that?” was the next question. I replied that a domain was accidentally not renewed and I had hoped that the company in an act of good will for length of time being a customer and number of domains registered could offer some type of offset for that fee.  “Pleas hold while I check” goes the message while the agent/call taker asks the power that be and then comes back with “I am sorry. Every registrar charges these fees and you will find the same fees wherever you move them to”. While this is true (although the fee varies) if my customer had this issue, I would pay part of their fee to keep them. I told the “customer no service” agent I understood and was sorry to lose them as a provider and disconnected. I didn’t give him a change to give me the directions I wanted because I knew I would again be put on hold while he check for a solution. I could have moved 10 domains in the time I played with their procedures.

If you want to compare this to a different company, go to Lowes home improvement with an issue. Walk up to a employee in an aisle and ask where something is. Oftentimes they will walk you there to help you find an item. If you get to the register and an item is mis-priced I have gone with an employee to the display, he investigated the issue and even reduced the price below the listed price just for my trouble. THAT is customer service. Empowering employees (within reason) to solve a problem or at least attempt to make the customer happy. When you don’t give employees the ability to make a decision themselves nor give them to tools to investigate items in stock or policies or procedures, then you are not providing Customer Service at all.

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