I try to relate the real world or my experiences to my craft of making product. Usually when I mentor or talk to startups one of the drums you will hear me beat is around customer service. It is a very simple concept – try to delight your customers with your craft but in the event something doesn’t go well and your customer asks for help. Be sure to reply quick, try to help and follow it up. It really isn’t rocket science, no growth hacking is needed and all you need is email.
I often wonder why I beat this drum so much and a recent terrible Scoot experience coupled with a recent great experience from Bosch has reminded my why I care about this so much. It is almost always the difference in that customer service from something low cost sucks and customer service from a luxury or higher cost brand is usually great. I believe this is worth paying for. More importantly as someone crafting an online product – you don’t have to be luxury to set your product or brand apart. Just surprise and delight your customer with great customer service. Something they usually associate with a a high cost item but when associated with a lower cost item – they will be your customer forever.
Back in my days selling enterprise software I used to have some awesome quarters and would get some extra cash now and then. I would try to upscale my wardrobe a bit since I was not known for being a snappy dresser. I was known for my mad tech sales skills.
I happened to get introduced to Wilkes Bashford in San Francisco and would shop there exclusively for dress items. Service was amazing. They remembered me, catered to me and allowed trying to look better painless. It wasn’t the cheapest but I didn’t care. I had good quality items that fit me well and that looked like I knew how to dress.
For many years I was not making any money for a while and of course never bought any nice things. First world problems I know. So after a year or so while working again, this time at Yahoo, I stopped by a Wilkes branch in Palo Alto – happened to see a jacket I liked and picked it up. They fitted me, called my old sales guy from the San Francisco office, had it delivered there on my way to the airport on my way out of the city. Their service had not changed one bit and of course this is why it was very easy for me to slip back in and buy something. Like crack that shit is.
So let’s talk about Scoot. I used to fly AirAsia and after having some stuff stolen in our luggage we switched to JetStar. That worked for a bit but then one day I was one kilo over in my carry on and suddenly was paying like 70 SGD to get out of the airport. Okay. On to Scoot. Been flying Scoot for over a year for all of our regional travel for family and business pretty much exclusively.
Shit had to happen eventually and it did. The issue is not that something happened, that was inevitable, but the core of my hatred for Scoot is back to the customer service issue. They treated my family horribly and to this day have yet to return any of my phone calls. Not one time have they called me back.
I am not even sure it is worth getting into the specifics but basically the Nok Scoot counter in Bangkok made a mistake that prevented my wife from flying which meant we all had to stay in Bangkok till we could sort it out. The Scoot call center actually agreed that Nok Scoot made a mistake and was trying to fix it but yet they couldn’t. Seems people on the phone can’t tell people on the ground what to do – this is also the other issue with the way the cheap airlines are run with all sorts of joint ventures that seem to answer to no one.
To add insult to injury once we finally sorted the issue – Scoot had cancelled my return tickets because we didn’t use them. No one seemed to connect the dots to discover that Nok Scoot didn’t let us fly – we didn’t cancel the tickets. So it took 2 days on the phone to get our tickets back but I had to pay 300 SGD to do it. Highway robbery!
Upon returning home to Singapore, also giving us the chance to confirm with Singapore immigration that Nok Scoot had no right to deny boarding, I decided to call Scoot to get some help. I made close to 5 phones calls with each time being told there was no manager available to speak to and that the customer service person could not help us. I was told each time that a manager would call me back when available. No one ever called back.
In order to get Scoot’s attention I cancelled my card so I could deny their change payment. Now I am waiting for that phone call.
Scoot sucks but maybe this was all the fault of Nok Scoot. Regardless the issue is all about customer service. I might be paying lower rates but they could still provide excellent customer service. They choose not to. It reminds me of all that is wrong with discount air and how the consumer has little choice but to accept the crappy service or use a REAL airline like Singapore Air who I am sure would not have put us through this. After losing 3 nights in a hotel, time at work, and time at school for my kids – there is no way that the discount air price was worth it.
In short. Scoot sucks ass.
Let’s talk about Bosch now. Months ago I stopped into Courts in Singapore to find a vacuum cleaner. I did not do any research. I looked at the machines and then asked the sales guy what he thought. Lots of comments about different brands but in summary he simply said – I would buy Bosch, it costs more (not compared to Dyson though). However they have great after sales support with a local service center and spare parts in 48 hours. So I bought Bosch.
This past week I lost the filter for the vacuum cleaner. Probably ended up in the garbage. So I called Bosch. Answered the phone in seconds. Checked stock. Held the filter for pick up. Was even a reasonable replacement charge. I was in and out in 5 mins at the service center. They had snacks and coffee which I hardly had time to finish.
Point is. I will buy Bosch again. Their service rocks.
Scoot. I will avoid like the plague. Their service sucks ass.
Startups – use customer service to your advantage. It is your secret, affordable, weapon.