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The things that keep you coming back - redux

posted in Marketing on July 10th, 2008

Close to a year ago, I jotted down some thoughts on how companies treat their customers and what makes me come back to them.

Paypal:

First up is Paypal. Most people know Paypal from eBay, some use it in conjunction with Skype, another eBay property and many people downright hate the service. There is a myriad sites available that deal with how sucky Paypal is and how wrong they treat you.

For me, however, Paypal, means ease of use and I am so comfortable with the service that a month ago, I decided to pay a four-digit sum with it and although the payment initially went through, my account was quickly locked down, pending a number of steps, two of which I could complete (change password, fax / email official document stating my name and address) and one which Paypal would have to do: review my transactions.

Up to this date, I have not found out why they locked my account, but to be honest, I am very happy that they did. For one, my usual transactions range in the single to double digit area, hardly ever peaking $50, now, all of a sudden, I transfer a four digit amount of money to someone and that from a country from which my Paypal account has never been used before. I can see how that would trigger a few security checks along the line.

The problem with having your account locked down is that not only does Paypal hold the current transaction, they also change old, already completed transactions from the last couple of days to “pending review”.

One of the payments that was held, was for Namecheap, my preferred supplier for domains and they quickly informed me that their system noticed a “chargeback” and that I had to pay an administrative fee of approximately $60, as well as the money I, technically, owed them (due to the fact that Paypal had reversed the transaction).

After a few mails to Paypal’s customer service, their Dutch division still was not able to assist me and provided me with nothing but canned responses - not the kind of thing that puts your mind at ease when somebody took a four digit amount of money from you and is now keeping it.

Luckily, after some searching on the web though, I found two community managers and sent off my story in email form. Only a couple of hours later, I got a few suggestions from Jason Miner and was also informed that my case was upgraded to the next level.

One of the suggestions included calling the Paypal customer center, which I promptly did. I had to prove that I am indeed who I am, I got apologies aplenty and the issue was very quickly taken care off, in the most professional manner I could even think of.

With my account returned to me and all my transactions unlocked, Namecheap still was not too happy with me as a customer, so I fired off another email to Jason, who ensured me that his team would take care of the issue and lo’ and behold, they did: the next business day, I got an email from Namecheap stating that any issues were resolved and that they were sorry for the inconvenience.

As for my happiness level: Paypal did not only pick up the ball in this, they ensured that everything was solved and assisted me with anything I needed. Yes, technically, that is to be expected, but looking at the state of the current customer service industry, this certainly deserves a mention.

STM Bags:

Back in the beginning of 2005, I got myself a bag from STM, which I love and use to this day. This bag has accompanied me to every conference I have been to, it has met the forces of nature and clumsy waitresses and through all that time, has kept my laptop safe and sound.

On my trip to New York, however, I managed to break one of the plastic clamps that keeps the bag attached to your shoulders. While it was still technically possible to use the bag, I felt that it would be safer (and better looking) to get myself a new strap.

After drafting a quick email to STM Bags North America, outlining my problem and trying to find out the price for one of the straps, a friendly CSR, Yvonne Studebaker, confirmed which strap I had / needed and also asked for my address.

Three days later, USPS delivered a brand new strap to me, for a product that I bought more than three years ago, that was way beyond any warranty and what is more: the broken strap was normal wear and tear.

The commitment STM has shown in this case not only won my heart, it also made sure that STM will keep my business in the future, because if a company can take care of its customers like that, I believe that they deserve my money.

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