Archive for the ‘mamax’ Category

Customer support hotlines

The poor service levels in Germany are not only limited to typical service offerings, but are also common when it comes to customer support associated with product sales and corresponding pre- and post-sales activities.  

Most customer support hotlines in Germany require customers to pay for the call. But why should a customer pay to call a company to find out information about a product or service the company is offering? And why should customers pay for calling a company to find out on how to use its product, or even worse, to have it fixed? Toll-free phone numbers for customer support are very uncommon in Germany, but they are standard in the US.

There are though some exceptions, which show that at least few companies in Germany realize the importance of customer satisfaction and don’t nickel and dime customers when customers want to do business with them.

Some of these companies, however, limit their free phone hotlines to only potential customers inquiring about the company’s offerings. Arcor, a phone and internet service provider, has for example a toll-free number for potential future customers, but charges existing customers who require support 24 cents per minute. norisbank, an online bank, is another example where potential customers can call for free to learn about its products, but existing customers need to pay for the calls. The costs vary depending on how far away from Nürnberg, the company’s headquarter, they live.

mamax, an online insurance company, provides a true free customer support and offers a toll- free number to new AND existing customers. One drawback here though is that mamax offers the phone support only during work days 8:00 – 18:30. How convenient would it be for working parents to call at 21:00 when the children are in bed to inquire for example about a life insurance policy? Wouldn’t that also help mamax to capture more business? This limitation of operating hours is actually very typical for German customer support, although it has been improving recently.

The best customer support hotline in Germany I know of is provided by Carglass, an auto glass repair chain. Carglass offers a free 24h hotline and the number is prominently displayed on the first page of its web site. So, a customer can call for free on a Sunday afternoon to arrange a car glass repair for the next day. Would you rather use Carglass or wait until Monday morning to call another repair shop and pay for the call?

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