Friday, 29 December 2006

The Long Tail of Customer Service: The Niche Market of One Pissed Off Customer

Xmas time always reminds me of what ends up being the best and worst about customer service.

Years ago I ended up in a "discussion" with customer service over @ Amazon when I downloaded one of their ebooks and I couldn't get it to work (and that was even after downloading Microsoft Reader!). I needed the book for a 'work on the weekend thing' and ended up having to buy it at the local bookstore. To make a really long story short, net net, Amazon refused to give me my money back even after I wrote Jeff Bezos and email (a business hero of mine). I was even sent to a seemingly more important customer service person, and was still told that it was their policy that if the book was downloaded according to their computer system, it was mine regardless of the fact that I couldn't get it to work.

Well, I did the only thing I could do. Emailed my network of friends asking them to send a note to Jeff to "give Leigh Himel her $10.00 back or we will never shop at Amazon again". At around email 12 I think it was, I got a lovely note from the customer service lady saying that they had reconsidered and while were not changing their policy, they were going to make an exception just for little ol' me, gave me my $10 bucks and a coupon for another $10 bucks which i have never used (While still admiring Jeff and Amazon, I now shop for books at Powells)

Now I can't imagine how much it must have cost from an OPs perspective to answer all my friends individually (which they did) but I can bet you it was FAR and AWAY more than the cost would have been to credit my card the $10 bucks immediately. But more importantly, one pissed off customer can do a lot more in the networked world than we ever could before.

So that’s why I say, probably one of the most ignored niche markets, the pissed off customer. Make that long tail happy and watch it wag it's way all the way to your bank account. If you choose to ignore it, do so at your own (and their networks) peril.


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