When you match a product and service that fits a need (Skype) and a customer that has a need and budget (me) the rest should be pretty easy, right? Not so fast.
I’m a big believer in customer experience during the buying process; most of that is simply shortening the distance to your sale. So you can imagine my dismay when over a week ago, what was supposed to be a simple purchase from a self-service system created a recipe for disaster.
Skype, now part of Microsoft, has to be one of the most well known voice, video and chat business tools in the world. Not only is it great for SOHO professionals like myself, it’s wonderfully flexible for businesses of just about any size. I moved to the for-pay version a little over 12 months ago as it offered some wonderful leverage points for conference calls and recording interviews for later playback.
Without much fanfare, I began the process of renewing my service this year. However, after about an hour of wrestling with the payment system, I finally gave up and moved on. After a few hours, I checked back in and sure enough my service had been purchased. But it didn’t apply my $20.00 credit.
So off I go, through the maze of websites and some abysmal form of Twitter-based tech support. After a week of scattered tweets and a few emails from someone I’ll call John, I finally receive a call back. John began his onslaught of “teaching” me the way Skype did things: No refunds, no upgrades, no tech support, and you should’ve called me first. I was even told that Skype purposely made it hard for customers to purchase things because of past fraud in the system.
What happened to shortening the distance to your sale?
Needless to say, I was rather frustrated – and had become the worst kind of irate customer you want: A crusader casting aside money for ‘the cause’. I no longer cared about credit or how much I’d spent!
But then John did something that saved the day. He forwarded me one, simple link that saved Skype’s reputation in my book — a link to Frank. In less than the time it takes me to dial a phone number, Frank had refunded my full amount and told me exactly what I needed to do in order to utilize my credit and even upgrade my account.
Was this a case of ‘bad cop’ and ‘good cop’? Maybe, but all I know is that Frank gave me some love – and now I’m happy to say that Skype account support is solid. Unfortunately, I found out there’s a twilight zone between ‘free-mium’ and Skype’s ‘premium’ subscription that you have to watch out for though!
My recommendation to Skype? Make it easier for customers who want to spend money with you; help them upgrade, downgrade and even receive refunds. Don’t hide your contact links; just do a better job of explaining what a customer has to do in order to talk, chat or email you.
Update: After successfully negotiating my refund, I was happy to return as a Premium customer. That is until I learned that I can no longer apply my $20.00 credit towards the purchase of the 12-month premium account. Once again, Skype has found a way to create distance between their customer and a sale. Simply amazing!
For Help: For anyone needing to contact a person via Skype’s live chat function, at the time of this writing you can follow this link.