This past weekend I was using some of the more sophisticated features of my Quicken for Home and Business 2015.  I needed some clarification on one of the financial planning items, but regardless of which Help file I accessed, I remained a bit confused.  This is just the kind of scenario in which a quick consult with a living, breathing, knowledgeable human being can be a lifesaver.

Much to my happiness, I found that I could easily link into an online live chat session with a Quicken support agent.  Of course, whenever you do that, you never know for certain whether the human being is knowledgeable and whether the human being is of the American culture to the degree that overall communication skills and technical prowess will be maximized instead of hindered.

Being guardedly optimistic, I clicked into the live chat option.  Very soon, I was in dialogue with “Michal” (not his real name).  My guarded optimism slowly eroded.  I say slowly because that correlated with Michal’s speed.  He greeted me with the canned-sounding but friendly:

Welcome to Quicken Support.  My name is [Michal].  I will be happy to assist you today.  Please give me a moment while I review your question.

Not too bad for an opener, but the requested “moment” soon turned into minutes.  When he returned to me, he paraphrased my inquiry supposedly to confirm his understanding.  Unfortunately, the very manner in which he paraphrased my inquiry convinced me that he did not intelligently comprehend my question.  Additional clarifying questions and responses continued to take significant time.

Next, Michal began feeding me links to the same Help files (that I had already thoroughly reviewed) with his brief augmentation that this information would address my question.  After additional repeated exchanges in which Michal’s favorite response involved another Help file link, I could not contain my frustration any longer, thereby prompting this exchange:

James Meadows:  This [link] takes me to the very same information that I have been reviewing.  So, no disrespect intended, but your role as a help agent is merely to give me ‘canned’ generic answers to my questions, correct?

Michal [After 60 seconds or more]:  I do apologize for that.

Moreover, that brief apology was the best recovery attempt I experienced for the duration of the chat.  The good news is that my subsequent repeated reviews of the Help files plus some software experimentation eventually gave me the needed clarity.  The bad news is that I still wasted valuable time with a very less-than-satisfying customer experience as I burned the midnight oil with financial planning.

Such is the customer experience.  Sometimes you get a live, helpful, knowledgeable support person.  Sometimes you get something less.

Any particular customer experience still plays into the larger customer satisfaction with and consumer perceptions of the company.  We can only hope that companies are continuously assessing and tweaking their support systems in a manner that can balance the books while somehow still delivering a stellar customer experience.  That said, I do not think that I will hold my breath on this one.

About James Meadows

Currently I serve as a training team manager for Johnson Controls at a customer-care center in Kansas City. Additionally, I am a business consultant, a freelance corporate writer, an Assembly of God ordained minister, a Civil Air Patrol chaplain, and a blogger. I believe we are living in the most fascinating times of human history. To maximize the opportunities these times present, I have a passionate interest in leadership development and organizational success, both of which I view as inextricably linked.

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