SaaS Startup

Replying to Customer Support Issues as a CEO

As a CEO of a SaaS company, one of the most gratifying things I enjoy is – replying to Customer Support issues.

It helps me to stay grounded.

It helps me to be empathetic.

It helps me to understand what they truly care about.

It helps me to work harder to fix issues in our product, messaging, documentation, and more.


Comcast’s surprising “Wow” customer service experience

When you hear “Comcast Customer Service”, normally you think of “it sucks” either based on your past personal experience or based on horrifying stories you’ve read on the internet. It’s not a surprise that in 2014, Comcast was America’s least favorite company and for the second straight year in 2015, it topped the Hall of Shame as the company with the worst customer service. In fact, there is a dedicated subreddit for all disgruntled Comcast customers.

So when the time comes for you to contact Comcast’s Customer Service, you are already not looking forward to the call, and also have very low expectations for getting your issue resolved in a timely manner. But when you receive a totally unexpected “wow” and pleasant experience, you can’t resist but to share that experience and give credits to those have worked hard on changing a demoter like most of us to a promoter. And since I work at a company who provides software to large enterprises to deliver similar “wow” experiences to their customers, I had a special appreciation by being on the other side of the fence.

So here’s my experience –

Common issue

A few days ago, we had an outage in our area for the Internet connection. Well, I didn’t know it was an area wide outage before I called Comcast Customer support. All I knew was — my internet connection wasn’t working after a couple of reboot cycles of the modem, router, etc. So eventually I called the 1–800-Comcast number.

Instant auto-authentication

Instantly after few rings, it detected me based on my phone number, and I didn’t have to go through the series of authentication and identification steps. I was ready to get served.

Proactive reminder of a pending task

The moment I was authenticated, the automated IVR (Interactive Voice Response) system proactively reminded me that I need to upgrade my modem. All I need to do is to visit the nearest Comcast location and receive a newer modem.

Natural language interaction

After that reminder, the next prompt was — “How can I help you?”. It didn’t ask me to listen to all menu options, and then let me figure out in which category of their menus does my problem fit, and then keep pressing respective numbers to traverse through menu tree to reach to the destination option I need! There was no such crap! It was a free flow open interface — just talk what your problem is in natural language — the way you would normally talk with a human agent.

I said that “my internet is not working”. That’s it. And it figured out what my intent was, and offered me the right treatment.

Accurate response

Once their automated IVR system understood what my intent of call was, then it immediately prompted my address and zip code and asked me to confirm if I’m calling about that region. I confirmed “Yes”.

Then it informed me that there is a known outage in that area, and their technicians are looking into it. They expect to resolve the issue very soon.

Empathic user experience

While they explained to me that the technicians are working on resolving an outage, I was still wondering, but how long shall I wait? While I was just thinking about it, the automated IVR system asked me — if I would like to receive an SMS update on my phone about when the outage will be resolved? I confirmed “Yes”.

Then it prompted my mobile number and asked to confirm if it should send me an update on that number. I confirmed “Yes”. That’s it. In the end, it greeted me well and said it would update me as soon as the issue is resolved.

Efficient follow-up

Roughly about 30 minutes, I received a text from Comcast that the outage issue is resolved and I should have my internet connectivity back. And sure it was! No refreshing of webpages in browser to see if the internet is back. The automated system informed me as soon it was available.

Delighted customer

And I was a delighted customer! It was a complete self-service experience across many different topics, and I did not have to talk to a human agent once. I certainly had many “wow” moments during the entire interaction and post interaction. Obviously you can see that as I wrote a whole blog post about it!

I wish they continue to bring this kind of experience to other common issues their customers are facing, and I’m sure one by one these disgruntled customers would turn into their promoters!

Originally published at on September 13, 2015.


How to provide the best customer service

I’m sure you’ll find hundreds of articles if you Google how to provide the best customer service. Those articles will be full of tips and tactics, disciplines to follow, software tools to use, etc. This post is not about tips or tactics. It’s about a simple philosophy. Ok, I’ll not stretch too long, but here is a simple secret to provide the best customer service –

Treat your customers the way you want to be treated by other businesses, and you’ll be naturally providing the best customer service.

That’s it. Ok, I understand you might ask why do I believe this simple philosophy works. Let me share my recent experiences with you. In last month, we released monthly subscription plans to our appointment reminder software product. After launching these plans, I started getting more emails from customers regarding feature requests, pricing concerns, issues they’re facing, etc. Since that product is still majorly operated by me, I answer all of these customer support emails. And I follow one simple philosophy — put myself in the shoes of the customer and answer emails or treat them the way I want someone to treat me. That means writing detailed emails on how to solve the issue they are facing, or giving them extra free credits when inconvenience is caused, or refunding their money if they’re not happy.

Here are some of the testimonials we received in last 2 weeks –

“P.S. You provide excellent customer service. Thought you would like to know that.”

Here is one more –

“This definitely calls for me “advertising” for this app on my Facebook and twitter sites. That’s about 320 friends right there. And I can convince many of them that you guys have a price range for them, as u have many plans! so hopefully I can bring you more business. You deserve it PLUS I will be sure to let everyone know that you’re ALWAYS HERE for us with your first-class customer support. I know everyone appreciates that! ;)”

So far so good…but you might say that how this will work when your organization gets bigger…and you’ve to hire customer support professionals. Same thing. Just give your customer support professionals freedom and sense of ownership of your company. Just tell them that treat your customers the way they want to get treated by other businesses. Ask them to use common sense more often that some rule book.

Recently I experienced horrible customer service experience from American Express, ICICI Bank and a local Thai restaurant. At all these places, the customer support representative was just following the corporate guidelines, was thinking their profit, and was not really concerned about how customer was feeling. They had limited authorities to resolve my issues, and had common answer that they don’t have permission to fix certain things even though they thought it was right thing to do. They had to involve their supervisors, who also weren’t much of any help. Their apologies were also very fake and scripted.

It’s very valuable to get a new customer, but it’s extremely important to satisfy existing customers and make them your loyal fans. And the only way to do that is to be authentic and treat your customers the way you want to be treated.

Originally published at on January 10, 2012.