Customer Service and Support
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Having lots of communication methods doesn’t matter much if the company doesn’t respond to support requests in a timely manner. For example, I’ve had experiences with companies who offered email support but would take over a week to respond to queries—not helpful. The aforementioned eternal hold times on the phone also fall into this category.
By “responsiveness” I am referring to what the customer service person actually does when you get through; after all, responding quickly is important, but responding usefully is even more so. Companies differ greatly in terms of how good their service people are; this is a function of how well they are trained, and in turn, how much money the companies put into this part of their businesses.
Some of the considerations here:
Some freelancing sites implement forums where freelancers can communicate directly among themselves. These can in some cases be a good source of support, with experienced users answering common questions and even debating and working through tougher issues.
It’s important to remember, though, that a support forum is not a replacement for proper customer service. Unfortunately, some companies seem to forget this, and the result is that paying customers must rely on the kindness of other customers to help them through even basic problems. The only reason why a freelancing marketplace would set things up this way is to save money, and you know what that means: they don’t value service very much.
Finally, everyone likes to know that their voices are being heard. Companies that genuinely care about quality service will provide mechanisms for customers to provide feedback and make suggestions for how to improve their site. Of course, equally important is how good a company's track record is for actually implementing requested changes: do they really listen, or do they just use their "suggestion box" as a place for unhappy customers to let off steam?
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Last Site Update: October 21, 2011
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