What Is Customer Service During A Crisis

What Is Customer Service?

What is customer service? Is it only when things are GOOD that customer service works? What about when things go WRONG? A few days ago the Hostgator websites went down. I went to look on Twitter and other social sites to see if they had given an explanation or a time when it would be fixed. Go Daddy has done that in the past when they were down. (And they were down for quite some time.) 

Hostgator down – What is customer service doing?

It was early morning when I realized some of my sites were down including this one and I started to tweet about it.  There was no response from Hostgator. I’ve loved Hostgator, when I use their tech support via chat or phone they are excellent and are there 24/7. I could not access their tech suport as their servers were down too. I thought it was odd. Why wouldn’t they talk about it or share the info? It just gave us users of their services more time to get mad.

The time lapse lasted about an hour. But that hour gave their customers a lot of questions. What happened? Would it be fixed? Many websites were down. A little customer service would have put their customers minds at ease. I even received a thank you email from a business owner in England about my tweeting the Hostgator situation. He had many websites hosted on Hostgator that he depended on to earn money. (He also said my tweets were entertaining, really?)

I learned this about customer service a long time ago when I made a major mistake on an advertisement that was already printed prior to distribution. I let the customer know the day prior so they could do damage control. They appreciated it and stayed with me. If I had not they would have been enraged the day it came out and saw it on their own. (been there too, not good!) 

What does good customer service mean to you?

  • Answers when called – That’s an excellent start when you can actually reach someone. Or if they return your call within minutes.
  • Calls you when things go wrong – Many credit card companies do this now when there is strange activity on your account.
  • Goes beyond your expectations – The restaurant who did not cook something well replaces your meal and takes it off your bill.
  • Promises kept – If they deliver what they promise, is it just expected or is that good customer service?

There are times though when companies have to be careful. Since being involved selling online I’ve learned some customers are out there to try to put one over companies. They think companies are not human and are just full of money. They will try multiple ways to rip companies off. How far should a company go to give the customer the benefit of the doubt?

What would you consider good customer service from a company?

I’d love to hear your experience about a great customer service situation or a poor customer service experience.

*I still love Hostgator for their 24/7 tech support  – I just wish they had informed us better when their servers were down.

Lisa

Lisa loves helping others to thrive online through Social Media, Blogging and SEO. What good is knowledge if you cannot share it with others?
She has 20+ years experience in marketing/advertising with 4 years experience blogging, social media and SEO. Get her new eBook Tweeting Like It's 2nd Nature Today!
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61 Responses to What Is Customer Service During A Crisis

  • Mayura
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hi Lisa,

    Didn’t know much about HostGator but seen BlueHost was down lately dear :)

    Sometimes businesses think it’s best not to reveal the true reason before issues being fixed if it doesn’t take much time. However I think letting customers know about the issues is better if it’s not hurting the business model. You know, sometimes customers could freak out in some scenarios. Need to handle very smoothly.

    Another thing is that sometimes they can’t find the exact issue at first place Lisa. When it happens, businesses freak out first as they have no valid reason to express. But I think truth would be much better though it seems like hurting at first.

    Customer service is what people mostly count on when things go out of their way. I remember talking about it once here. I can recall people switched products and services due to poor customer service or communication.

    I’ve always fond of emails when it comes to customer support. There were very good examples that companies handle the situation though they take time to respond Lisa. You know through automated responses and customers feel valuable in that way. Sometimes they take forever but comes with a working solution. But when it happens, I’ve already given up on that.

    Cheers…
    Mayura recently posted…Easily Add Custom CSS to Your Template in BloggerMy Profile

    • Lisa
      Twitter:
      says:

      Mayura, an email would have been great too. I still love Hostgator for the 24/7 tech support. We didn’t need to know reason just that they acknowledged it and gave us a timeline of sorts. Oh yes, people do change companies when they received poor customer service. Can’t say I blame them :) Thanks for your input Mayura.
      Lisa recently posted…What Is Customer Service During A Crisis My Profile

  • My biggest about customer service happened Thursday with our local cable provider. I called them with a problem, and expressed my situation that services got worse after the prices went up. So what does he do? Tries to sell something else to me. Really? I just told you I didn’t like the amount I was paying for what I have. Don’t you get it?

    *sigh*
    Making Our Life Matter recently posted…Crockpot White ChiliMy Profile

  • Bren
    Twitter:
    says:

    Eeek! The hosts were having a bad week. GoDaddy went down, BlueHost went down, and then HostGator. Weird stuff. My blogs went down overnight so I really didn’t notice anything until morning. However, I didn’t see anything from BlueHost about what was going on, nor did other customers. It’s sad to say but a simple tweet or facebook status update from someone’s mobile phone could have put us all at ease over not knowing anything. I think a big fail on all their parts. It’s a lot easier to deal with a situation if you know what’s going on then driving yourself nuts trying to figure it out. Great post Lisa!
    Bren recently posted…Not Another Body Change!My Profile

    • Lisa
      Twitter:
      says:

      Yes, it was a bad week online Bren. That same day with Hostgator down many things were down like Twitter and Paperli to name a few. I thougth the web was crashing down! Thanks for your input on this one Bren. Have a wonderful weekend there!
      Lisa recently posted…What Is Customer Service During A Crisis My Profile

    • Astro Gremlin says:

      On one of the rare occasions when Bluehost went down, and I noticed, I called THEM. I was delighted to learn my blog didn’t have a problem, they did! I don’t follow my ISP on Twitter, and don’t read Twitter much, so I wouldn’t have know unless they called me. I think a lot of service providers optimistically work on the problem — “Just one more minute and we’ll have it up.” — rather than notifying customers of bad news. They want to FIX it, not announce that it’s not fixed.

      Imagine getting a call from the fire department, “We are putting out a fire across town, and should succeed, but wanted to let you know that there is some probability of failure, in which event the fire will sweep into your area, destroying all in its path.” Of course, people get mad when they aren’t notified in advance of failures but complain when they are disturbed unnecessarily.
      Astro Gremlin recently posted…How to Be an Eccentric BillionaireMy Profile

  • Yeremi Akpan
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hi Lisa,
    It is fair to assume all hosts have their downtimes. As you have pointed out, how it is handled is what qualifies as customer service. There is nothing as important as openness during a crisis. When your clients see that a mistake has been made and you are doing all you can to undo the damage, they give you their full support…

    Great point made here…
    Yeremi Akpan recently posted…Are you a Blogger or a Programmer? (How to Grow Your Blog by Putting Code in Its Place)My Profile

  • lokesh
    Twitter:
    says:

    Lisa, I had faced similar situation with other hosting provider where all my websites were down and when i contacted them through tech support, they told, they had already updated this information in their website under downtime category. It was true they had updated, but there were no mails regarding the downtime. Most of the services are good at sales but later we face lot of issues without no clear communication reaching to users. Good customer care should be the one who cares their users,provide proactive information and resolves issues within SLA.
    lokesh recently posted…History of Social Media before FacebookMy Profile

  • Sapna
    Twitter:
    says:

    HI Lisa

    I’m aware of the issue with Godaddy as one of the client for which I have worked mailed me to ask about the site being down, which till that time I was not aware of. I checked my site and it was also down.

    I called godaddy and they politely regretted but never showed the courtesy of mailing me the situation and the tech reasons.

    The sites were up and running after few minutes though, but not a customer service I was expecting.

    Thanks for bringing the core issue in limelight.

    Sapna
    Sapna recently posted…How much Bacon Can you eat before Heart attack eats you? (An Infographic)My Profile

  • Sarah Park says:

    I believe a good customer service is more important during crisis. A customer service is a big factor in any business which can also a make or break a customer’s trust.
    Sarah Park recently posted…How to Become a ParamedicMy Profile

  • RobG says:

    Hello Lisa hope all is well now, I also have Hostgator and love the service but have not had any problems with any services interruptions

    When ever I use their support services they’re GREAT and 99% of the time they resolve any issues I might be having. One of the things I love about their chat service is that it’s GREAT on my mobile device.

    I have been using them since I launched my blog and I have also added another domain to my account.

    Thanks for sharing your post Lisa I hope you have a great weekend.
    RobG recently posted…Increase Blog Comments, Gain More Traffic, Use The CommentLuv Plug-inMy Profile

  • Ana Traffic Generation Cafe says:

    Hostgator has always (well most of the time) great at dealing with problems; that’s one of the reasons I still recommend them as a great host provider.

  • Kita says:

    I love when I find good customer service I stick with those companies the most because it’s so hard to find. Even if you can’t fix the problem at least explain to me why and when it will be fixed be nice and know that without customers your bills don’t get paid.
    Kita recently posted…Mary Kay GiveawayMy Profile

  • Lisa, I suspect the many crashes had to do with Facebook, which took down about 75% of the Internet at one point this past week. See this: http://www.nbcnews.com/technology/technolog/facebook-briefly-takes-over-entire-internet-redirection-bug-1B8297602

    I have had some *great* customer service experiences of late, most notably with Sprint, who really stepped up to the customer service plate for me. Windows gets kudos, too, for talking me through a multi-level, multi-week Windows 8 upgrade.

    Sometimes, I think, the one thing that it would take to get actual assistance is either overlooked, or outside the comfort zone enough that isn’t on the consideration table: just ask, and be clear and direct. Sometimes, it’s that simple.
    Ellen M. Gregg recently posted…5 Reasons Why You Don’t Want to Go VeganMy Profile

  • Jens P. Berget
    Twitter:
    says:

    This is very interesting Lisa. I can hardly believe that a big company like Hostgator are not always providing information to their customers when things are happening, and especially before and during issues like this. I am working with a similar company in Norway. And, they’re small, but they’re always providing information via Facebook and Twitter, and they are “always” answering emails and questions, close to 24 hours a day. That’s how you get loyal customers, and that’s how you get fans :)
    Jens P. Berget recently posted…What is search engine marketingMy Profile

  • The same happened with BlueHost and they were far from responsive either. They posted an update every two hours on Facebook but did not respond to comments from customers.

    Actually, the people who take care of their Fan Page on Facebook told me that it wasn’t their role. “You are just here for social media and marketing, you know.”

    I don’t know why companies have this sense of entitlement about them, especially in social media.
    Cendrine Marrouat recently posted…This week in social media (February 4-8, 2013)My Profile

  • Sire
    Twitter:
    says:

    At the moment I’m working for a major supermarket and I have direct contact with customers. I always try my best to answer their questions and direct them to the product their looking for, even when they’re getting in the way of whatever I am doing. After all, they’re the ones that are keeping me in a job.

    As for a bad experience, the worst one I’ve had was from a salesperson who treated me poorly because of the way I was dressed. I admit I was dressed a little shabbily, but that is no excuse for the way he acted.
    Sire recently posted…Not Making Money Online? Its Not You, Its ThemMy Profile

  • Corina Ramos
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hi Lisa,

    I”m sure after that incident lots of Hostgator customers may have considered leaving for a better service. It just takes one incident to change a customer’s mind, and I’m one of those people.

    It’s not because I’m a mean person but as a customer service manager as soon as I’m talking to a rep I’m observing for quality assurance instead of why I’ve called. I’ve even gone so far as to tell a rep who had a little attitude with me that if I were her manager she’d be fired :mrgreen:

    A customer service rep will go over and beyond to ensure the customer’s issue is handled right the first time. From doing a follow up call to the customer to making an executive decision for a credit dispute a CSR is the bread and butter of all companies which is why they invest thousands on training. Look at me, I can go on and on.

    Hope your having a great day!
    Corina Ramos recently posted…The Valentines Day I Discovered Two For One DiningMy Profile

    • Lisa
      Twitter:
      says:

      Hi Corina, well since I used the other 2 companies prior I decided to stay put for now. Although our retail sites are on a different provider(Netsuite)and they have only gone down once in 3 years! They cost a lot more but it sure is worth it for the retail sites. Gives me more to think about Corina. Have a great day!
      Lisa recently posted…What Is Customer Service During A Crisis My Profile

  • Real Estate Guru says:

    Thanks for keeping it real and I always look forward to your next post!

  • Lauren
    Twitter:
    says:

    First of all, many apologies for my delay in commenting. I’m totally fried. I guess that would be an example of good customer service. : )

    Businesses need to have a 24/7 line of communication with their customers. If there’s problem, you’ve got to tell your customers or otherwise they will feel abandoned.

    Selling a product or service is just part of the process. A company has got to have a customer’s back, especially since there is so much competition out there. If a company has excellent customer service, it will stand out from the rest. Same is true of poor customer service, although in a bad way.
    Lauren recently posted…iFeline Cat Robot with Dog Death RayMy Profile

    • Lisa
      Twitter:
      says:

      Never need an apology for that Lauren. I’ve days behind myself lately. Fried here too between snow and traffic of late :) Yes, that’s true it can also work both ways. Thanks Lauren and on the way home tonight I was thinking of what flip flops would feel like. Something about being in boots all the time was getting to me.
      Lisa recently posted…What Is Customer Service During A Crisis My Profile

  • Tim Bonner
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hi Lisa

    I have no idea whether my site was down with HostGator or not at the time yours was down! It sounds as if a lot were though.

    I know they guarantee sites to be up 99.99% of the time but it would be nice to know when they plan on downtime, I completely agree. A Tweet or an email would be ideal wouldn’t it?

    I had problems with CloudFlare a few weeks ago and they didn’t tell me my site was down either. They did offer an apology for not letting me know though afterwards. What a shame they couldn’t let everyone know if there was a problem beforehand!
    Tim Bonner recently posted…Insomnia Is My NemesisMy Profile

  • Adrienne
    Twitter:
    says:

    Unfortunately I can sympathize with you Lisa because I’ve had some issues with Bluehost for several months. Most of it was my issues on my end without knowing it but there were two times it was them. Now I was able to get customer service on the phone. Once their servers were having issues and the other time the hard drive crashed on the server I’m on. Yeah, that freaked me out.

    They were there though to let me know they were working on it and I know that even a big company like that will have issues too. It’s just the way of the world but never any calls from them. It may take me awhile at times to get someone on the phone because I prefer speaking to someone and not going through their chat.

    The best customer service I’ve had lately has been from Andy Bailey with CommentLuv. That man is on the ball and eager to help. Even though there is a time difference he’s there to answer questions and help you resolve issues. I can’t say enough nice things about Andy. He may not be a large company, not yet, but he’s sure starting out right.

    Glad you’re back up and running and hope it stays that way.

    ~Adrienne
    Adrienne recently posted…My Favorite Social Sharing Plugin, Share Juice ProMy Profile

    • Lisa
      Twitter:
      says:

      Hi Adrienne, I didn’t attempt to call since the rest of the house was sleeping, it was like 4 a.m. I love chat for that reason :) Oh yes, Andy is totally awesome. He responds so fast to any emails I’ve sent. Sometimes the smaller companies can do customer service better than a larger one. More personal too. Thanks Adrienne, it was only down after 1 hour. I worked on other things instead for a change.
      Lisa recently posted…What Is Customer Service During A Crisis My Profile

  • Hi Lisa,

    Customer service is so important, especially in this day and age. Information is so readily available and travels so fast that if we screw up on customer service, people will know quickly.

    With me it’s more of a loyalty thing. I’ll spend more money if I know I’m going to get good service and be taken care of quickly if I have a problem. That’s worth so much more to me than paying a little less for something.

    As for the scammers, you’ll never be able to stop them. All you can do is deal with them until you identify them for what they are, then cut them off and never do business with them again. Something I’ve learned from Ben Settle online is that it’s okay to anger those who are NOT in your target market and you don’t WANT in your target market. Not only are they less hassle by you running them off in the beginning, but they probably don’t have much influence to hurt your business either. Anybody who knows them knows what they’re about so they’ve lost any influence they might have.

    Thanks for sharing. I actually use Hostgator, too. I’ve also loved their service. I had no idea their servers went down the other day. Thanks for letting me know! :smile:

    I hope you have a great rest of the week!

    ~Barry
    Barry Overstreet recently posted…Unique Selling Proposition Tip #4: White Collar Product At A Blue Collar PriceMy Profile

    • Lisa
      Twitter:
      says:

      Hi Barry, I think they go down in the wee hours of the a.m. when most people aree sleeping :) It’s true that people will know much quicker now with technoloyg and social media. I would agree spend more to get good customer service is worth it in the long run. Good point – if you don’t want them in your target market, let them be GONE. I still love Hostgator with the 24/7 tech support. Enjoy the rest of your week too Barry.
      Lisa recently posted…What Is Customer Service During A Crisis My Profile

  • JanBierens
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hi Lisa.
    The costumer is King. period. What ‘older’ companies forget, is that nowadays, because of new media the costumers unita quickly if there is something wrong with a service or product.
    In minutes everybody ‘had heard the news’. More modern companies hire Social Media people to monitor the web for any (bad) publicity. The customers have a -combined – bigger voice now…
    JanBierens recently posted…The Importance of Networking as a BloggerMy Profile

  • Hello Lisa:
    My website is one jushost. So that’s why I think I was not aware about that problem . Good to see that your website is now up and working fine. And yes Hostgator is one of the most trusted names in the online world.
    mohammad ismail recently posted…Search Engine Optimization (SEO)! Know Before You GoMy Profile

  • Sue Neal
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hi Lisa,

    I’m very grateful to you for this post because I didn’t know about the Hostgator problem, and when my I was unable to access my site a couple of times this week I initially thought it must have been something I’d done wrong (I’m a woman, so I assume everything’s bound to be my fault!) – it’s reassuring to know it was part of a wider problem, but infuriating Hostgator didn’t contact us to let us know what was happening. As Mayura suggests, an email would have been nice. It might have saved them some hassle, too, because if they’d had a system whereby people were automatically alerted, they’d presumably have had less calls to their helpline.

    I agree with all the points you make – good customer service in a crisis is all about open communication and responsiveness – keeping you in the loop and making your feel valued and reassured.

    Great post – thank you!

    Sue
    Sue Neal recently posted…5 Fatal Blogging Mistakes to Avoid – Lessons from a National ScandalMy Profile

    • Lisa
      Twitter:
      says:

      Hi Sue, well it was only for short periods of time, an hour one day and 30 minutes the other. Hopefully they are through fixing or updating their servers. I still like their 24/7 support online, I did reach them via it the 2nd time. It would have been better if they contacted us first though. Thanks for your input on this Sue.
      Lisa recently posted…What Is Customer Service During A Crisis My Profile

  • sandi says:

    I also hosted my blog on hostgator but I’ve never had problem like you.

    with them I have very good experience. For now :grin:

  • Neamat Tawadrous
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hi Lisa,

    Great post!

    My blog is hosted by Hostgator but I never noticed any interruption in the service last week. Although I love their 24/7 support line but I think the best customer service should be shown in the time of crises to keep customers in the picture and make them feel assured and valued.

    Thanks Lisa for sharing a great post and have a great weekend ahead!!!

    Be Blessed,

    Neamat
    Neamat Tawadrous recently posted…Are you Making Sacrifices in Your Network Marketing Business?My Profile

  • Aayna says:

    Hi Lisa,
    Customer service is one factor which has the ability to make or break the image of the company. In the event of crisis, there is a real test of the customer service. The aspect which I loved about this post is that it was a realistic post. Thanks for the share.

  • Kayla says:

    I read a strange article the other day, maybe it was me that was strange and not the article but it said that in an emergency when contacting a customer service the most important thing to the is that the customer service agent is polite and understanding, in my opinion I want them to get the problem fixed and do it quick. If they do that I dont care how rude they are!

  • Fatima says:

    This is a great post for an excellent customer service. Customers panic when they do not get the support which they expect from customer service team.

  • Gillian
    Twitter:
    says:

    Great post Lisa. Good customer service is key especially in the current financial climate, unfortunately some companies don’t take the time to acknowledge this. We all know things can go wrong but being kept in the loop helps to make the situation a bit better. Waving hi from #FlashbackFriday.
    Gillian recently posted…Healthy Eating For ChildrenMy Profile

    • Lisa
      Twitter:
      says:

      Hi Gillian, nice to see you – how have you been? I’ve got to get back there. I’ve been behind of late catching up on reading other blogs. You would think with the current financial situation companies would take more time on that. It costs more to obtain a new customer than to keep an old customer. Thanks for coming by Gillian and have a great day.
      Lisa recently posted…Pinterest – Why You Should Pin It On SaturdaysMy Profile

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