Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Customer Service held hostage

The following is a true story. I've been playing around with Skype more, especially now that SkypeOut is free in the US (able to call US phone numbers at no charge). So, I wanted to see if I could use my Plantronics Bluetooth headset with my PC for this. After all, my computer has Bluetooth; should be a no brainer. I even searched online, and found a few examples.

Paired it just fine. How, you ask? Well, I consulted Plantronics' support website, where I found this helpful document:

How do I switch my Voyager 510 from PC to Phone and vice versa?
After connecting your Voyager 510 base to your phone following the setup instructions in the Quick Start Guide, you should be able to use the headset with your desktop phone.

Next you should pair the headset with your PC by putting the headset in discovery mode and going to My Bluetooth Places on your PC "search for nearby devices".
When the "PLT 510" is found, right-click on its icon and select "Pair Device".
Enter the four-digit pass code and click OK.
Then right-click again and select "Connect Headset". You will hear the tone in the headset similar to a ringing. Press the Talk button on the headset to answer. You are now paired and connected to the PC.

While you are listening to audio from the PC, you can switch to the phone by pressing the Talk button twice.
To listen to the PC audio, Press the Talk button. Go to My Bluetooth Places and right-click on the "PLT 510" icon. Select "Connect Headset". You will hear the tone in the headset similar to a ringing. Press the Talk button on the headset to answer.

You can then repeat the steps to go back and forth between the two devices.

Seems pretty straightforward? Yep: worked like a charm. Yet when I went to place a call or transfer audio, inexplicably the headset simply died. Turned off. Kaput. After various attempts at trying to solve this, I decided to head back to Plantronics and consult a support rep with online chat.

Now, remember: I already found the info above ON THEIR SUPPORT SITE. Imagine my shock at the conversation that ensued:

Graham: Hi, you have reached Graham in Technical Support.
How may I help you?
Joshua: I'm trying to pair my 510 with my PC. Pairing is completed, but when I try to connect, it turns off the 510.
Graham: We don't have any info on using the 510 with a computer. It should work, but is only supported and recommend for a blue tooth cell phone.
Joshua: Huh? You have an FAQ on it: (URL of page)
Graham: Because we know it is possible. But do not support it.
Joshua: You're serious? You're not pulling my leg? You are saying you offer support documentation on pairing the headset with a PC, but you don't support it? Not trying to be an ass here; just want to make very sure I understand.
Graham: Yes, we can tell you how to put the headset into pairing mode. But have no info on using it or making it work on a computer.
Joshua: I appreciate how difficult this question is, and I appreciate you answering it honestly. Thank you for your help!

I was serious: I did appreciate his honesty. This man was being hamstrung in his job by a company who could only do a half-ass job of equipping him. It's stunning: the frontline of trying to make your customers happy, and Graham is having his testicles kept in a jar by his employer.

Companies should want to push the edge, should want their products to become more valuable to their customers; that's how they succeed. Did Google say "Stop searching Google from anywhere but" or "Hey, we know you can put maps from Google Maps on your site, but we don't want to make it easy for you." No. And that's why they have eclipsed all search and maps sites: they learn from their customers.

Think I'm off base here? Consider this: Plantronics clearly knows their customers want to do what I did; after all, they have a support document on just that! Yet officially supporting it? Hell no, they can't be bothered. Read that again: they have a customer base who wants to use their product MORE, and they will not support it.

Doug Fleener tells his readers constantly about the importance of looking at your business from the perspective of the customer; Plantronics, it's time to listen.

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