Been gone a week or so. And I return with a story of customer service gone bad, and then good. It's week of story, but I'll give you the condensed version - and trust me, there is a moral here for nonprofits.
The beginning: After months of working on my laptop, replacing the motherboard, ramping up our home wireless network, updating a couple of pieces of creaky software, I was really happy with how it was running. I decided (silly me) to get the last 10% out of it, and upgrade from XP home to XP Pro. More stable, better access, etc.
Had a bad install. Crap. Called Microsoft tech help. Got a very polite, not very smart person in India (We'll call him Tech 1).
NOTE: I have NO problem with outsourcing tech help, and I know that US tech help is often inept, but please, God, give me someone with good English proficiency, no matter where he or she is from.
He told me some things to try, I did, and after an hour or two was no better off.
I called back, got India again, smarter person (Tech 2) this time. We worked for about two hours, and he told me we could do some things that would give me a perfectly working computer for a while, but I would need to offload data and start again with a reformatting and reinstallation of all my software. Double crap. But, if I could limp along for a couple of weeks, OK.
I did what he said, the computer finally completely booted (which it hadn't been) and I happily hung up.
None of my programs would work. Now, Tech 2 had said I would have a "fully functioning computer". Not true.
I called Microsoft to complain, and was given a "VIP" number to call for "really good tech help" I called the number, found myself on the same tech line as before, in India with the "least smart" person yet with absolutely unintelligible English (Tech 3), who told me that, basically, I was screwed. "You need to save your data, reformat, and reinstall your sofware." When I complained that I didn't HAVE some of the software that came installed on the computer, his answer was "Call Dell (the manufacturer)" and then he said this:
"Perhaps you are using an install disk that was used by someone else?"
Understand my attitude at this point was frustration and near panic about losing my data, and then this guy accuses me of pirating software. I told him in no uncertain terms that I did not, and never do, that, and that I wanted to talk to his supervisor.
He hung up.
ARGHHHHHHHHH! All this was last Friday.
I backed away slowly, again talked to a contact I have at Microsoft, and put the computer away while I thought the problem through. Tuesday, I went out an bought an external hard drive, and thought some more. Thursday, I moved all my data, and then the best possible thing happened.
A techie (tech4) from Microsoft called me, and wanted to help. He was AMAZING. We worked for 4 hours, tried lots of options, and wound up reformatting the drive and reinstalling the OS. BUT, Cliff (the techie) stayed with me, called me back, and today he offered to help me get my laptop back on our home network. I had complete confidence that I wasn't going to trash my system. Cliff was terrific, the perfect tech support. He and I are scheduled to talk again today to finish things up.....ahhhhhhh.
I still have lots of reinstallation to do, but I have Cliff's phone and email, and can use it if I need to.
OK, what are the lessons for nonprofits? First, everyone is on the marketing team every minute. Techs 1-2 were polite, helpful, willing, but unintelligible for the most part. I spent a lot of time saying "Sorry, I don't understand you). An already frustrated and worried customer doesn't need that.
Tech 3 insulted me and accused me of fraud. A poor idea.
Tech 4 - Cliff, was and is amazing. I am happyhappyhappy even though Microsoft's initial product messed with my laptop, I've spent a week dealing with this, and at least 8 hours on the phone. Why am I happy after all that? Because I finally got good, understandable, competent help.
Second, doing things cheap can cost more in the end. Again, I don't care about who does the work, as long as they a: do it well, and b: offer help in my language...the lesson here is that you need to pay attention to your markets, whether they are English speaking or Spanish speaking, or Korean, or Thai, or Lithuanian.
Here endeth the story.