This is how online customer service SHOULD work.  Food for thought: does your customer service live up to this standard, online OR in-person? Gold’s Gym, I’m looking at you. Life Time Fitness, I’m looking at you. Corporate wellness providers, I’m looking at you.

I installed WallControl metal pegboard plus various extras as part of a garage organization project this summer. It’s a great product (and I highly recommend it) but one of the shelves just wouldn’t stay put.

I was getting ready to return it to WallControl, since I bought direct from the manufacturer.  But then I thought — hey, let me ping the WallControl people about this problem and see if there’s any way to fix this so I don’t have to bother with a return.

Long story short, nope, still had to return it.

But the customer service was amazing, and better than it could POSSIBLY have been face to face.

Think about it for a minute — that’s unheard of. Email, phone calls, tweets, posts — usually the response is some combination of slow and generic or otherwise unresponsive. You know, along the lines of “Thank you for sharing your input. Your feedback is valuable to us. We will share it with our product development team.”  Yeah.

Or “We’re sorry our product did not meet your needs. Please return for a full refund.”

Sure, I’m happy to get my money back, but what I really wanted was a working product, you know?

So check THIS out:

9:48 AM

I emailed them my problem.

10:04 AM

I get a meaningful, substantive and personal, NOT CANNED, reply. It was from someone who was clearly personally familiar with the details of their products, instantly offering to exchange it and pay return shipping.

For those keeping score at home, that’s 16 minutes later. Now, they also sell this product through Home Depot — and you and I both know I could never, ever have gotten a sensible and well-informed answer in 16 minutes at Home Depot. Plus, drive time to and from.

10:07 AM

They proactively called me, although I couldn’t pick up the call.

10:11 AM

Now 23 minutes after my  initial email. Suddenly, another email pops up — they’ve proactively sent me an additional specific troubleshooting suggestion.

I tried the suggestion and realized that the real problem was that the shelf was slightly warped. Nothing major, but enough to make a difference.

10:52 AM

I reported back to the WallControl folks, who told me to simply throw out the warped shelf, no pointless hassle about returning it, and confirmed that my replacement shelf would be sent out today.

Barely an hour, start to finish, to resolve my problem.

THIS is how online customer support should work (heck, face-to-face support too!).

Just because it’s email doesn’t mean I want to wait hours or days for a reply.  Nor does it mean I want to get generic canned replies that your customer service people essentially cut and paste.

Real answers, right away — that’s what people want from your customer service folks.