Allow me to tell a tale of why customer service is such a critical component of a great product and company.
Let us examine two companies: Logitech and SteelSeries. Logitech makes mid-ranged products, not top of the line but certainly not terrible by any means, and has average pricing. SteelSeries makes “professional” quality products, claiming to be the pinnacle of the technology, and prices accordingly. Both of these companies make “gaming mice” – durable, highly configurable mice with more than your standard 3 button layouts.
I buy a mouse from Logitech, the G5. I use it and it works well for about about two years and then the scroll wheel breaks. Annoyed, I begin a search for a new mouse and upon reading some great reviews and finding out that SteelSeries supports eSports and sponsors Evil Geniuses, one of my favorite teams, I get their top-of-the-line mouse – the Xai. I install it and promptly have issues; Windows says the device will not start. All my other mice work fine, but this one will not. I send their support desk a ticket. I wait four days. No reply. I send a followup to the ticket, send them a Twitter message, then wait another six days. No reply, so I bump the ticket a second time. Four more days, and I bump it one more time. Nothing.
I put it out of my mind for a bit as I am busy getting a new computer, and on this computer I get the mouse working, but have issues with the firmware – it will not upgrade, and the profiles do not load. I update again, no reply. Finally, a month after my initial ticket, I tweet the following out of frustration –
Well I don’t think I’ll ever buy any @steelseries products again. Worst customer support in the history of mankind.
This finally gets a response.
@dgooch Wow, that sounds really horrible. Do you have a ticket number so I can help?
Success! Whoever runs their Twitter account got the support guys to check my ticket (there’s a lesson here – the squeaky wheel gets the grease and all that). I get a response back from them and over the next 48 hours of emailing back and forth we determine the mouse is defective and I need to send it back. The support guy creates me an RMA, and I look at the process – I pay to ship it to them, and then I should get a replacement mouse in about 3 weeks. Not exactly horrible, but far from convenient. I pack it up and get it ready to send in and plug in my old Logitech mouse in the meantime and prepare to live with having no scroll wheel again for a few weeks. Then I stumble across a thread on Reddit about someone’s great experience with Logitech service. I search Reddit and find many other such threads, several of which mention that Logitech will help you for an absurdly long time after you bought the mouse. Now, bear in mind that since I’d had the Logitech for a couple years I didn’t even bother looking for support on the mouse previously.
I go to Logitech’s website and look up their support info. “Wow, they actually have a phone number,” I think to myself, and dial the support line listed for the mice. Immediately I’m connected to a gentleman who asks me what my problem is. I give him the product ID off the bottom of my mouse and he asks me what I have done so far. I tell him that the mouse doesn’t scroll unless I spin it for a long time and then it might move one click, and it’s done this on two computers where other mice with scroll wheels work fine. He says “Okay, well I’ll go ahead and replace the mouse for you. Since we don’t make that exact model, we’ll replace it with a G500 instead, okay?”
Uh, yes. That’s okay. That’s very okay. So how many weeks do I need to wait to receive this and what do I have to pay?
“So I’m going to email you a prepaid shipping label, you send that mouse in to us and as soon as we get it we’ll ship you out a brand new mouse. Should take about 7 business days for the whole process.”
He got my email address and shipping info, gave me a case number, and told me to have a great day. No credit card info needed, no hassle, no sweat.
So let’s recap.
- Mouse retails for $90
- One year warranty
- No phone support
- Delayed email support
- I pay for shipping
- Replacement takes 3 weeks.
- Mouse retails for $70
- Three year warranty
- Phone support
- No hold time
- They pay for shipping
- Replacement takes 7 days.
Guess who I’ll be buying my peripherals from for the foreseeable future?
SteelSeries makes great products. Of this I have no doubt. The Xai even LOOKS beautiful. It’s elegant in its simplicity and the configuration software is very easy to use and offers a ton of features most mice don’t even think of. Additionally, I will give SteelSeries endless props for their support of eSports and sponsorship of pro gaming teams like Evil Geniuses – eSports would not exist without companies like this willing to take a risk and get involved. And it pays – I’d never have been considering a SteelSeries mouth had EG.iNcontroL not sworn by them publicly.
But Logitech also makes high quality products. They’re not as top of the line, sure, but honestly – I’m not a pro gamer. I don’t need any more precision than the Logitech mice offer and honestly the precision either offers is probably way overkill for my skill level. And Logitech is willing to go the extra mile for their customers. In the end, that’s what makes a great product. That’s why I love companies like Logitech and Apple, who really strive to make these situations as easy as possible for the customer, and run away screaming from companies that seem to want to blame the customer for everything – I’m sure you can think of a few of those.
So a word to SteelSeries and any other company out there with a great product but so-so service: sink some cash into the customer service department. Apple’s been the face of a customer-centric company for a decade now, and they’ve rode that ideal into becoming the most profitable technology company in the world. A great product can only go so far without equally great service.