Can I just call you?

I was reading this post over on CreatingCustomerEvangelists.com about the fact that it’s nearly impossible to find a phone number to call Amazon.

When I was doing Web dev in the early days, we had clients who would set up a Web site and (despite our protests) shut down their customer service numbers in exchange for an email. That usually lasted about 6 months.

Phone number invisibility is a common occurance with large companies. Their knee jerk, old-school thinking is that calls cost money, and the less calls the better. Handle customer service through email and you’ll save tons and tons of money.

The funny thing is that calls cost money, but they can also make money. Imagine if Amazon had the ability to upsell when people called in to talk about an order problem. They have wonderful mechanisms for making recommendations online… why couldn’t they make those over the phone? Why couldn’t they create mechanisms to help turn satisfied customers into people willing to turn into customer evangelists? Imagine THAT call…

Apple puts all this effort into their AppleCare system. But iTunes doesn’t even have a call-in support mechanism. You MUST email. As far as I’m concerned, when financial transations are taking place there MUST be a real person I can talk to. Period. I had my account strangely cancelled and the horrid customer service was near ineffective until (literally) the 5th email. I repeated the basic message (adding a bit more anger each time) 5 times until someone was able to tell me what the built in iTunes error message meant. Then it took another two emails for me to find out how to get them to fix it. This could have been handled over the phone, and they could have upsold me on one of their other products after they made me happy!