Helping Is Happiness Jerome | January 26th, 2009

Recently, Ross wrote about how each person can impact others: “think about how you can help others. Imagine how much good you can do if you help just one person per day. Imagine how much good THEY would do if they too help one person per day.”

Customer service is about helping others. We’ve all experienced good and bad customer service.We tend to remember situations when we’ve received exceptional customer service. And we also remember situations where customer service has been awful. As customers, we think that we are entitled to exceptional customer service at all times. But when we provide customer service, we sometimes forget that exceptional customer service often takes extra care and effort.

Photo by mrmanc (Flickr)

crowdSPRING admires companies that have made customer service the focal point of their business. Such companies never forget that each customer service experience should be exceptional. Sometimes, this means going way beyond what you might normally do to help a customer.

Recently, we had to remove a creative for repeated violations of our policies. We take such actions with great care because we value our community and we believe in giving people opportunities to correct their behavior. We also recognize that removal of a user has serious consequences. In this case, the creative we removed was awarded the project by a buyer and our action complicated the completion of that project.

We could have reopened the project, refunded the buyer’s money, or asked the buyer to select another creative. But, because the buyer really liked a particular design, and because the creative had already done the work, we wanted to find a solution that made sense for them both.On crowdSPRING, project wrap-up is typically an automated process that the buyer and creatives do on their own (on our site). But in this case, completing the project required my direct involvement. Both the buyer and the creative agreed to let me help them complete the wrap-up of their project. So, I became the “middle man” between the two, relating information back and forth in an effort to make them both happy.

This process required me to invest a large amount of time to complete that one transaction. But the time invested was well worth it because I “became” both the buyer and the creative – getting an incredible insight into our users’ experience – from both sides in the same project.

At some point late in wrap-up, despite my repeated efforts to contact them, the buyer stopped giving feedback and had not yet received the final deliverables.

Several weeks after that, the buyer mentioned on Twitter that their experience with crowdSPRING was “interesting”. When I read the tweet on Twitter,I was concerned that the buyer had not received the final files. So I picked up the phone and called the buyer right away. I wanted to better understand what they meant when they said that their experience was “interesting,” and I wanted to make sure that the buyer received the final files in their project.

It turned out that due to a family emergency, the buyer’s only access to crowdSPRING was through a Blackberry. And it was apparent that such access wasn’t adequate to review hi-rez  files. While it would have been easier to say to the buyer to wait until they had access to a computer, it was clear that they needed the files right away. And so we once again decided to go above and beyond what the situation called for. To help the buyer view files on their Blackberry, we sent files in a low-rez JPEG format. Our own team checked the final files for quality – something we normally have buyers check on their own. And, because the buyer was severely pressed for time – they needed the graphics for a very important trade show – we sent the final files directly to their printing house after we verified the files.

What did we learn from this experience? The buyer will definitely remember this experience. While it started a bit rocky (our own fault) when we removed the creative, we worked hard to make this process meet the buyer’s needs. The files were delivered on time despite and we had a happy customer.

Looking back, my decision to go beyond what one would normally do – to help a distressed customer – not only had a positive impact for that customer, but also allowed me to learn first-hand about users’ experience in wrapping-up projects on crowdSPRING.

Helping really is happiness. I felt empowered after this experience, and energized to do even more.

I’d love to hear about your experiences with customer service – good or bad. If you’ve had an exceptional experience, what made it exceptional? If you’ve had a poor experience, how could it have been improved?

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  • Jabraulter

    Wow, wonderful story, Ross. You guys are cS always seem to be giving me reasons to like you even more. This is what COMPLETELY sets cS apart from most other sites. Thanks for the great work!

    Jon

  • Jabraulter

    And by Ross I meant Jerome :-P

  • iamtiff

    Anybody else would have just let it go and lost a customer. I’ve been in situations where I would contact a company about a problem and I would never get a response…automated or otherwise. I feel like what ever question or problem I have is valid, but they obviously didn’t. You’re continued quest for awesome customer service is what truly sets crowdSPRING apart.

  • fredK

    That whole story is spectacular, Ross (Jerome ;)) and a great example of the term ‘above and beyond’. I can’t imagine that _any_ other freelance site/company/community that I know of would go to such lengths to help a client out. For my part, fast response and responses that demonstrate that the responder has actually looked at my question and done some own thinking on it –even if the solution offered doesn’t always help me– is enough for me to call the customer service ‘great’. However, and this is the tricky part, like most web customers I have a very short short-term memory, which means that you have to repeat the service *on the same level or better* to maintain that rating of ‘great’. Well, in most cases. You could actually fudge a couple of cases now and we’d still call you great (because of this and past experiences). But no more than a couple, ok? ;)

  • Sonny Gill

    Great job by you, Jerome.

    The bad customer service issues are definitely thrown around in many case studies but the big benefit of going that extra step, as you did, is the word of mouth. Great customer service builds strong WOM around the company at hand and will become more memorable and have a greater lifespan than would crap service.

  • Sonny Gill

    Great job by you, Jerome.

    The bad customer service issues are definitely thrown around in many case studies but the big benefit of going that extra step, as you did, is the word of mouth. Great customer service builds strong WOM around the company at hand and will become more memorable and have a greater lifespan than would crap service.

  • ArtbyAudree

    Well, Jerome, after dealing with you cS guys for a few months, I have to say I am not in the least bit surprised. ( I just want to know when you sleep. ) The unfortunate thing is that good news travels fast, but bad news travels faster. In on-line communities – it is amazing how quick the buzz can get around.

    I had a talk with a buyer who was absolutely thrilled with their project and is looking forward to using cS again. You have a great business model – and your desire to constantly look to improve it is only going to help.

  • crowdSPRING

    Hi Guys,

    Thank you for all the great responses!

    @Jabraulter You are more than welcome! Truly, what sets us apart is our community and great creatives like you!

    @ iamtiff Thank you! mmmm.. it sounds like you had some bad ones :( Do you want to share these experiences with us? What do you think they could have done to better understand your concerns?

    @fredK We’re trying really hard to fudge some of your tickets but haven’t been able to do it yet :)
    Because of your experience with other platforms, did you experience good or bad service? Do they do customer service differently or better than us? Any stories or improvements for us?

    @Sonny Gill Thank you! This is great feedback! How do you think we can create more WOM on what we do here? Any ideas, suggestions?

    @ArtbyAudree Truly, we take turns, that is the only way we can get some sleep :) I heard you don’t live so far from here, so maybe you can come in and do some customer service while we sleep? In your opinion, now that your are an established creative here :), how could we improve?

  • ArtbyAudree

    Jerome – I DO live close. I am hoping to come in someday and challenge you guys to a game of ping pong. Perhaps during spring break. I will give it some thought and send a PM if I come up with any ideas.

  • crowdSPRING

    @ArtbyAudree Oh yeah! Ping Pong! We’re ready. Drop by anytime you want :) Look forward reading your ideas! Thank you!

  • Agitationist

    Funny you bring this up; I just posted about a good service experience yesterday:
    http://agitationist.com/what-good-tech-support-looks-like

  • Agitationist

    Funny you bring this up; I just posted about a good service experience yesterday:
    http://agitationist.com/what-good-tech-support-looks-like

  • crowdSPRING

    @Agitationist Absolutely killer example of what customer service is about! Great post! We share that exact philosophy, after all, what matters to us is that you spend more time “playing” on the site than on figuring out why you cannot “play”. Thank you so much for posting your link! Taken from your excellent example and past experiences, are there any areas that you think we should improve? I am pretty thrilled already to hear your answers – even if it hurts, tell me, I will be fine, I promise :). Jerome

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  • David K. – Chicago

    As a stockholder of crowdSPRING and an enthusiastic supporter of the cS team, this is indeed a wonderful case study of going the distance to see a client’s problem through to satisfaction. We do this in our business and it garners huge satisfaction.

    cS team – Keep up the good work.

    PS If you really want to win a Ping Pong match, invite me over. I am a cheerful loser in these games of skill and talent!

  • David K. – Chicago

    As a stockholder of crowdSPRING and an enthusiastic supporter of the cS team, this is indeed a wonderful case study of going the distance to see a client’s problem through to satisfaction. We do this in our business and it garners huge satisfaction.

    cS team – Keep up the good work.

    PS If you really want to win a Ping Pong match, invite me over. I am a cheerful loser in these games of skill and talent!

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