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Over Engineered Customer Service

November 22, 2007

Business,Industry Observations

I think we can all agree that good customer service in any country represents the cornerstone of a successful business. This holds especially true in the United States of America. Unfortunately more times than not our experience with customer support is a bad one for more reasons than I can count. That said I recently had an experience with a software company who’s customer service was truly over thought and over engineered.

I recently received a message from this software provider that my license was about to expire and would I like to renew now or later. This was very friendly and very professional message. When I finally opted to renew the software license things initially flowed smoothly. I followed the step-by-step instructions and let the “wizard” do the rest. Half way through the setup process don’t I get an error message which instructs me to contact technical support. Now the simple thing in my opinion would have been to include a toll free number in that message. After all they asked me to contact technical support. But as you guessed there was no number. So I proceeded to follow my intuition to try to contact customer service or technical support. I went and opened the Norton Protection Center to see if I could find a link to customer service and voila I found it. Unfortunately there still was no telephone number. Instead I was faced with several links and an FAQ section. I also saw an option to talk with a live person via the internet (Live Person). Unfortunately for me I am not using Internet Explorer 5.5 which apparently is the only web browser that will support Live Person. I proceeded to check out the FAQ section to see if others had encountered a similar problem to mine and how was it resolved. I saw a link that came close and downloaded what I thought would be a quick fix. Needless to say that didn’t work.

Fifteen minutes later I finally found a number to call. The same number they could have programmed into the error message that greeted me while trying to install an upgrade. You know what happened next. I spent 5 minutes talking with a computer answering questions including putting in my order number. I finally received a tech support person in India and the first thing he asked me for was my order number. Did’t I just key it into the phone.

Now I know that India has received some bad press lately about tech support and how many reps are encouraged to take on US names like Harry and Jane but I’m happy to report that my tech support guy was good and kept his birth name. The bad side to this story is it took him almost 45 minutes to help me fix the problem. In all I spent well over an hour of my time doing something that should probably have only taken 5 minutes.

Unfortunately this is not the first time I’ve had this experience with Norton. At the end of the day they offer a superior product and I will continue to be a customer of theirs but they should consider doing one of two things. Either fix the technical glitches which are causing the set-up error when upgrading a software package, or include the tech support number right in the error message when it does pop up.

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