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Oh Adobe March 25, 2013

Posted by wooddickinson in service, Tom Peters.
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Shantanu Narayen

Shantanu Narayen

Oh Adobe. Listen, Tom Peters says that the two most important points of contact that strongly influence a customer’s opinion about your business is shaped in their coming in and their going out. I use to run movie theatres and that stuck with me. A simple, “Thank you for coming,” from an usher as they were leaving or better yet from a floor manager could and probably would leave the customer with a good feeling about your establishment.

This idea doesn’t end with movie theatres. My wife and I went to eat at Capital Grille one evening. The food and service were 5 stars. We were set IN a side room with a large table of guests in it as well. We enjoyed our dinner and were trying to talk over coffee and the other table was becoming very loud. I don’t mind others having a good time but when their good time starts to diminish mine a bargain must be struck. My wife asked our waitress if there was any way to ask the other table to hold it down a bit. The waitress left and after a few minutes returned with our check and apologized for the other tables behavior and thanked us for coming in.

When I looked at the check, Capitol Grille had completely comped the entire meal plus drinks. I was dumbstruck. They did this without making even the littlest deal out of it. I left a tip guessing the check should have been around $90 and we left.  As we left the manager thanked us for coming.  Ask me if I was impressed. This was WOW customer service and put Capitol Grille on my favorites list at OpenTable.com. This is how lifetime customers are made.

Compare this to a recent problem I had with Adobe. I’m a subscriber to the new Adobe Cloud service. It’s a great idea. I pay a monthly fee, get access to all Creative Suite software and updates that aren’t available to people buying a boxed version of CS6. I like the idea of paying a little every month and not wondering when the next update will come out and how much it will cost me. I have also downloaded parts of the CS suites that I didn’t have before and used them.

To make this all work Adobe created the Software Manager. You use for updating, installing and keeping everything running at 100%. One day when I ran this program it came up in Japanese. I went to the change language option and set it back to English but nothing happened. It was stuck in Japanese. Worse yet, this corrupted program started deleting CS6 software from my computer. I fought with this for about three weeks, reloading software, uninstalling the Program Manager and installing again and I couldn’t get things back to normal.

So, with great trepidation I called Adobe support.  I won’t bore you with an account of all that happened just trust me when I say I spent better that 8 hours on the phone (mostly on hold) until I finally found a support person who knew enough to help me truly fix the problem. I’d had two other support staff tell me it was all fixed only to find out they we’re wrong. The last support fellow seemed to be more than a tech reading from a book. All except the last fellow I talked with was in India. On my second call I asked if he would transfer me to an American because I was just having too much difficulty understanding what he was saying. I was told all support is in India so he couldn’t.

Now I have nothing against India or their people but the accent can be very difficult to navigate and I’m good at it. This is an issue in itself. A huge one but not the one I want to talk about now. After weeks of using a faulty product (work doesn’t stop), I ended spending better than 8 hours on the phone with Adobe, I felt they owed me something. So, I wrote a letter to the CEO and mailed it off. You heard me right. I looked up his name, street address, then typed it up, printed it on stationary, signed it and put a stamp on. Then I even found a mailbox and mailed it. My thinking was if he received a letter from a customer not just an email he would take notice.

Here’s the letter:

“Dear Shantanu Narayen:

I want to inform you that I had an extremely upsetting failure of your Adobe Cloud. The “application manager” decided to only run in Japanese and started randomly deleting applications.  I made a call to support and after their claim that “it’s fixed,” the problem persisted.  Another call to support elicited the same claim and again the problem persisted. A third call, using a trick to obtain support without the two-hour hold time yielded a fellow who finally understood my plight and with his help the problem was resolved.  At least for now.  That call took two hours by itself.

The total time spent on these calls, failures, on hold, failure in your call back system, over eight hours.  Can you believe that?  An entire work day was waisted trying to correct a problem that was obviously one created by your software.  You say how do I know it was your software?  It wasn’t until ALL things Adobe were sanitized from my disk and a fresh start taken to load and run the application manager did it start working correctly.  No changes were needed on my system settings.

More that the eight hours was lost with this fiasco.  I lost almost a weeks worth of work that I had to make up with some very late nights.  Some of us do try to make a living using your software and these kinds of incidents are unacceptable.  I am a subscriber to Adobe Cloud and what I want in return for the lost productivity, possibly a lost job and time spent with your support failing to correct the problem is one year of Adobe Cloud services added to my account at no charge. My account user ID IS XXXX.  The order number is …….5339DT.  I’m currently paying $32.70 per month (tax included) so I don’t feel $392.40 will break your company.  That seems like an extremely fair amount of compensation for all the aggravation, lost productivity, late hours and hardship caused by the failure of your software, and support team.  Please contact me with verification of this ASAP.  Email me at the above address or call my cell. 

Sincerely,”

Well, I was wrong. I received an email from Shivangi Moitra of Adobe Global Customer Service Escalation Team. What ever that is. In my letter I’d asked for a year free of the cloud service to compensate for my time, aggravation and their repeated failures at fixing the problem.  Shivangi informed me they were sorry for my problems and they would credit me 60 days not the 365 I’d asked for. Now do you think they just rubbed salt in the wound? You bet. I email Ms Moitra:

Hi Wood,

My name is Shivangi Moitra from Adobe Global Customer Service Escalation Team and I am contacting you in response to your letter addressed to Mr Narayen dated 8th March 2013.

Kindly accept my apologies on behalf of Adobe Systems for the inconvenience you have experienced with the Creative Cloud subscription. We will certainly use this as an opportunity to improve the quality of service we provide to our customers and the appropriate people in management have been notified of your concerns.

Since you were not able to use the subscription for certain days due to technical glitche (SIC), please note that the subscription account under Adobe order # …5668198 has been credited with 60 days and the next bill date for the subscription is updated as 16th June 2013.

Please let me know if you have further queries and I shall be happy to assist.”

Well I did have further queries!

I wrote:

Shivangi,

Of course I will gladly take the 60 day extension to my account but I asked for 365 days. I also wrote to Mr. Narayen. I’m saddened he’s too busy for one of his customers. Remember we lowly customers are the only reason there is an Adobe, I’m just sayin’.

Look, I took the time to craft a real letter on paper and everything then mailed it. Who does that? Me I guess. I’m a writer but for the effort I expended writing a real letter then mailing it to him I was hoping he would see just how upset I was. I mean really, who uses real paper letters anymore?

Maybe I did a poor job in my effort to transfer my experience to him. I mean I spent well over an entire workday in the effort to get a problem fixed that I didn’t create. By the way, get rid of your music while on hold. I about went crazy listening to it and that’s no joke. It’s just one more piece of grief I suffered trying to get your software to work.

What does it cost for you to give me a year of free Adobe Cloud service? Really. I think not much for the goodwill that it would have created toward your company.

In my perfect world what I would have received is a letter from Mr Narayen expressing his sorrow at Adobe’s failure to meet my needs.  Then he would have said, sure a year on me is only fair in trying to build trust and a lifetime customer.

See that would have been something and you bet everyone I could get to listen would have heard about how well Adobe responded.”

She called me and said 90 days was the max she could do even after explaining to her twice why I was unhappy with this outcome. Why didn’t she do the 90 days from the start? Why did the CEO respond? Why doesn’t Adobe care about customer service?

Her final email:

Further to our telephone conversation today, please be advised that I have credited the suibscription (sic) with additional 30 days and the next bill date for the subscription is updated as 16th July 2013.

We certainly understand the inconvenience caused due to the subscription not working for you. We have noted this situation strongly and your feedback will help Adobe guide ongoing efforts to improve our services.

Assuring you best products and services in future.

Regards,

Shivangi Moitra”

Adobe has technically superior products. That’s what they’re counting on. Kind of reminds me of Microsoft and IBM. A “Be happy we’re around. All other products stink and no matter the hassle; you need us.”

So, this is the state of customer service at Adobe. If there was an equal alternative I’d be gone. They aren’t interested in lifetime customers but I already knew that based on the price of upgrades over the years. This was just another confirmation of my feelings.

Folks, we have to do better. Adobe has to do better. Take a cue from Capitol Grille. What did it cost them to comp my dinner? Knowing their grade of product is in the top 5% of beef in the nation I’d say a lot. Now what would it have cost Adobe to comp a year of cloud service. Next to nothing. The goodwill from the gift of a year extension would have way out weighed any cost.

That’s it. Wake up Adobe. Nothing’s forever.

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