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Factoring in Customer Service

VBSurrey

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#1
Hi Forum,

To begin with I would like to make it clear that I find the reviews on ASR to be absolutely brilliant. What am I comparing against? Reviews in Stereophile and The Absolute Sound which I used to stupidly read and believe before I discovered ASR.

So, the purpose of this post is not to be critical but to explore how, if at all possible, we can factor in customer service along with the excellent evidence-based reviews. For example, if a top-rated product suffers from terrible customer service surely that should be taken into consideration when products are compared? Of course, the ratings (good or bad) for customer service also have to be evidence-based. I do not think this is very difficult to achieve.

I would like to hear the Forum's thoughts on this

Many thanks
 

pozz

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#2
You mostly have to rely on public comments about problems, which are circumstantial and hard to assess.
 
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VBSurrey

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Thread Starter #3
Hi Pozz,

Thanks for the reply. I completely agree that anecdotal reports should be discounted. I was thinking along the lines of

Evidence in writing. For example emails not answered within a specified time
Also a verification step where someone at ASR contacts the manufacturer and gives them an opportunity to comment before anything is published

Kind regards
 

MRC01

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#4
Ideally, the CS test should be blind to the manufacturer; they don't know the person calling is reviewing their product or publishing the results of the interaction, but think it's "just another customer".

However, anyone can simply cold-contact (phone or email) the manufacturer from their "contact us" info. I always do that to check their CS before big purchases.
 

digitalfrost

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#5
A good product should not even require me contacting customer service.

Also. How would ASR be able to rate this at all? We have no metrics. Plus, with an international user base, how does customer service change depending on location?
 
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VBSurrey

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Thread Starter #6
Ideally, the CS test should be blind to the manufacturer; they don't know the person calling is reviewing their product or publishing the results of the interaction, but think it's "just another customer".

However, anyone can simply cold-contact (phone or email) the manufacturer from their "contact us" info. I always do that to check their CS before big purchases.
Very good advice. A bit late in my case (not your fault at all). Purchased a top-rated item and paid for it in December. Delivery was promised for tomorrow. No response to emails from last week. That is what prompted this post.
Ultimately technical excellence is of little use if customer service is dreadful
 
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VBSurrey

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Thread Starter #7
Hi Digitalfrost,

You are correct. What I was referring to was poor customer service in getting the purchased item to me in the first place.

Thank you for your response
 

pozz

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#8
We would have to use a system or create a closely-monitored big community effort to track all this stuff. It's complicated, and manufacturers themselves have a hard time with it.

Most useful things seem to be semiformal owner's threads. The ones for popular products are very active and are full of info. That's how a bunch of the issues (whether to do with the product itself or the reaction of the manufacturer) are known here and elsewhere, in other forums.
 

Neddy

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#9
There are metrics and formalisms for CS call centers, though they are annoying to apply and easy to manipulate the data on (I've never met a 'customer service survey' that wasn't flawed in some way....usually put together by someone under pressure to 'prove' results (good or bad) with no experience at it.
(I've lived through several ITIL migrations....'it's an Incident, Not a Problem', though they can provide useful information for process improvement).

CS is a continuum, and is somewhat dependent on the type of interaction (annoying customers can get anoid answers)...and ranges from abysmal to superlative.
I ran one of the latter for a start-up-then-mid-sized company, and regularly recieved 3AM pager calls from customers who had been told by the sales weasels to 'test us'. So, be respectful if you're going to 'run a test' - and be honest about it!
CS folks exist at the tail end of the corporate creature, and are almost always starved for resources and influence on production.

I know enough about the mechanics and varieties of CS situations that I actually prefer to rely on 'anecdotal' reports - which usually vastly overemphasize the worst (sometimes even deserved) responses, and to a lesser degree the positive...way too easy to complain, no real reason to send out attaboys/girls for folks just doing their jobs.
Forums like ASR do help a lot by 'winnowing' the 'reporters', and there's a huge variety in what is most important to each responder, so my preference is for things to remain pretty much as is.
:cool:
 

Martin

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#10
One important customer service factor for me is whether or not the warranty is transferable. I buy the vast majority of my components on the used market. I will not buy a component whose original warranty is not transferable. (I’m looking at you Schiit.) I had excellent warranty customer service from Audeze on a used pair of headphones. (Audeze’s 3-year warranty is fully transferable.)

Martin
 
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VBSurrey

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Thread Starter #11
Hi Neddy,

Apologies for disagreeing with you. I actually own a CS system as part of a suite of software modules. The CS system handles in excess of 1000 tickets per week. I completely agree that metrics can be manipulated but there are basic ones such as the time taken to respond to a customer which are impossible to e to manipulate since everything is time stamped by the system.

Ultimately what I am banging on about is to improve the experience that users get from this site. I have made 4 purchases as a result of reading reviews on ASR and I do not regret any one of them.

I sit in my listening chair in awe not just at the music but by how little the system components have cost me.

And before someone reminds me, it is time for me To make another donation
 

Swtoby

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#12
I agree customer service is very important. It is one of the things I consider when making a purchase, or if after purchase, the service is lacking, I will take my business elsewhere. I also consider the comments of manufacturers on forums such as this in future buying decisions. I have been so turned off by the comments of one manufacturer that, despite the measured results, I won't consider buying from the company. Customer service matters in my opinion and will keep me buying from a company even if it means spending more for similar features/performance than a rival product.
 

SJ777

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#13
A good product should not even require me contacting customer service.
I can't agree with this. Customer service can be very useful for "tweaking" and general advice. Sometimes a friendly response to an email can make all the difference and add value to a product.
 
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VBSurrey

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Hi Swtobuy,

I am very pleased that you agree with my comments that customer service is an important factor. The bigger question is should ASR continue to list a product which has been measured and is technically an excellent product. But, if there are many well-documented cases of extremely poor customer service (bordering on the fraudulent) is it correct to continue to list that product as a top rated product?

That really was the sentiment that prompted this post
 

SJ777

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#15
But, if there are many well-documented cases of extremely poor customer service (bordering on the fraudulent) is it correct to continue to list that product as a top rated product?
The problem with this is that is it reliant on anecdotal evidence. What would be the threshold of proof? How could you be certain that some complaints are not spurious? One cannot objectively measure customer satisfaction on the basis of forum content. If there is a known fault (e.g. the early versions of the Topping L30) then that's a different matter. Amirm rightly altered the review based upon this information.
 
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VBSurrey

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Thread Starter #16
Hi SJ777,

Excellent points. My thoughts are
All evidence has to be in writing, for example emails
Thresholds – this is something that the forum has to agree on if they think this process will be helpful

Some objective measures could be
Time taken to respond to an email query
Grace period for missing promised delivery dates

I hope this helps
 

SJ777

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#17
Hi SJ777,

Excellent points. My thoughts are
All evidence has to be in writing, for example emails
Thresholds – this is something that the forum has to agree on if they think this process will be helpful

Some objective measures could be
Time taken to respond to an email query
Grace period for missing promised delivery dates

I hope this helps
They can't be objectively measurable because you have no way of knowing total sales or total satisfaction levels.

For example:
Item 1 sells 10,000 units and there are 50 occurrences of negative feedback
Item 2 sells 1,000 and there are 20 occurrences of negative feedback

Item 2 has less total complaints, but has a higher complaint rate. Without total sales (info that isn't easily to hand) there is no way of measuring satisfaction.

If an individual wants to look through forums and gather anecdotal evidence then obviously that's fine, I suspect we all do it. But this cannot be incorporated into an objective review. With the vast array of variable factors, I see no way in which this could work in a way that is not misleading.
 
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VBSurrey

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Thread Starter #18
I disagree. With regard to the percentage I take the view that manufacturers should take a zero tolerance view rather than accept a certain percentage of dissatisfaction.

Ultimately, we have the binary option of either evading this issue altogether or attempting to take it into consideration while accepting that the measures can never be perfect. If we don't take the latter approach then ASR is inadvertently promoting products from dodgy manufacturers
 

SJ777

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#19
Ultimately, we have the binary option of either evading this issue altogether or attempting to take it into consideration while accepting that the measures can never be perfect. If we don't take the latter approach then ASR is inadvertently promoting products from dodgy manufacturers
Poor customer service is not dodgy manufacturing, it's poor customer service. If there are known faults then these are addressed, retrospectively, by @amirm.

I disagree. With regard to the percentage I take the view that manufacturers should take a zero tolerance view rather than accept a certain percentage of dissatisfaction.
You haven't answered my point. How do you provide reliable information on product satisfaction? All products have acceptable failure rate margins. It's unlucky if you get one of those, but that's why consumer law exists.

To be honest, this isn't getting anywhere. I'm not interested whether you agree and disagree with what I've said. I'm only interested in seeing a methodology that would provide objectively verifiable information re: customer service.
 
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VBSurrey

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Thread Starter #20
OK Let's patk this and see if anyone else has a different view
 
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