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It never ceases to amaze me…

Companies spend an enormous amount of time, effort, money, and energy trying to get people to make a purchase, and when they do, they completely drop the ball when it comes to customer service. This is an issue every business needs to factor into their marketing strategy. It makes no sense to spend money on advertising or clicks or direct mail or leads and then fumble the whole campaign because of inept customer service.

I have two examples that illustrate this. I won’t name any names because my purpose is not to rake these companies over the coals but to simply illustrate a point.

Both sell information over the Internet. Both heavily market themselves. Since I’m a “sucker” for marketing information and how-to products I made a purchase from both companies.

From Company #1 I paid for a subcription to a newsletter with access to all its archives. Everything was going just great, the “congratulations for your decision to purchase” email had me all excited. Then I clicked on the access link they provided and entered the username and password I had just paid for.

Error: access denied.

I did this fifty times and finally went back to the original email to find out how to contact support. Clicking their link sent me to their online trouble ticket service. I started a ticket and then sat there disappointed. I never did hear back from them.

That’s not what you want your customers to experience just after they make a purchase.

To brighten my spirits, I purchased another product from Company #2 that I had been looking at for a few days, this time an eBook. Everything looked great, credit card was processed and I received an email with a download link.

Guess what? This download link gave me a “404: Not found” error. I was incredulous! Twice in one day! Obviously this is a problem for many companies.

To make matters worse, following the customer service instructions in both cases yielded no response. I only got results when I went outside the normal procedure by posting to their forum, or finding out who owned the domain name and emailing them directly. In one case I Googled the customer service number (previously hidden and undisclosed) and was able to make contact that way.

Needless to say, by the time they worked it out I was no longer interested in the products and I asked for a refund.

I’ve sold thousands of digital products over the years and it isn’t that difficult. When the credit card is processed you automatically take your customer to a download page, and you automatically send them an email with a link to the download page. This isn’t brain surgery.

In their case they lost not just one sale, but all additional sales I could have made, plus all the sales from people I might have recommended them to. Or, think of how much worse it could have been – I could have posted my bad experience to any number of blogs and online forums and named names. That kind of negative buzz can kill a company.

You don’t want that happening to you. When you craft your marketing campaign be sure to factor in your customer service functions. Poor customer service will derail the most brilliant marketing strategy.


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