Customer service: compare and contrast

It’s always interesting to see how companies’ attitudes to customer service differ.

One of my projects is to try and minimise the amount of paper I am storing and my current focus is on manuals, instruction booklets and the like. To this end I have been trawling round various manufacturers’ web sites to try and locate PDF versions of the aforementioned manuals, with varying degrees of success.

Of course it’s nice when one quick search finds the desired document, but it’s what happens when PDFs aren’t readily available that’s interesting.

What should happen:
Lumie doesn’t have any of its manuals online, but one quick email to an easily found contact address got the requested files in short order.

What shouldn’t happen:
LG have a whole web site devoted to customer service and do have manuals online, in a mix of PDF and djvu formats. Unfortunately the one I was after wasn’t there as a PDF and I wasn’t about to start messing about with plug-ins for a file format I have never needed, or even seen used, before (and, as it turned out after further investigation by Codepope, the file wasn’t actually there anyway).

LG don’t have a contact email address, they have a form. So I filled it in. And got a reply informing me that all their manuals were available as PDFs on the site I had been looking at.

I started to reply but then noticed that “replies to this message are not monitored or answered“, and a link to the contact form.

I’m feeling bored so I follow the link, fill in the form, explaining once again that there is no PDF version, submit the form and get an error page; an error page with links on it, none of which can be clicked because the page is so broken that every click results in an aggressive “right-click not allowed” dialog box popping up. I assume the form has failed, give up and go on to the next manual hunt.

But, apparently the form did actually get submitted — though really they shouldn’t have bothered replying: “We recommend you contact a representative from our Customer Services team on the number below who will be able to advise you further.” Needless to say I haven’t bothered.

And what reassures you that there are people out there who give a damn:
And then there was the rather special Babs from Culinare‘s customer service team.

It was the day after I’d emailed them and I wasn’t really expecting a response — normally it seems to be quick response or no response to simple questions — but there it was in my inbox, a PDF of the instructions. Babs had obviously found the product and scanned the instructions in herself. It wasn’t the world’s best scan but the mere fact that she had gone to the trouble of creating (or finding someone who could create) a PDF for me when she could have just said “sorry, we don’t have one” makes her an absolute star of customer service in my book.

In an ideal world anyone selling consumer products would have all their manuals in PDF form in an easily-found location on their web site but here in the real world I am happy to know that there are companies like Lumie and people like Babs who are willing to far exceed the low expectations set by companies such as LG.

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