And whilst the good stories might not be as entertaining as the bad ones, they could give other buyers out there a bit of inspiration for how to create smooth customer experiences using the digital services available to them.
Which brings me to Skype. Let me first say that I've never had a particularly strong opinion of Skype as a collaboration app either way – I do use it for conference calls and IM most days, but I also use other tools when it takes my fancy. The main reasons that I keep using Skype are that my card details are already stored on there and it seems that a lot of my other contacts are using it. It's not out of any particular brand loyalty.
However, after my Skype account got hacked recently, I've got a new appreciation for the service it provides to me as a customer (sounds counter-intuitive, right?) - thanks to the ease at which I was able to use digital channels to resolve the issue.
But let's take a step back. It all started on a Saturday morning a couple of weeks ago when I woke up to half a dozen emails from Skype telling me that they had delivered my order for additional Skype credit – at £20 for each order, the amount 'delivered' totalled over £100.
Assuming that they must have been a batch of emails sent in error, I went on to my Skype account to check my available balance. When I logged in, I could see that my balance said £0.00, which I was half expecting as I didn't think I had much credit on there anyway.
But to double check I logged onto my online banking and to my surprise all of the orders for credit had been subtracted from my bank account. Either Skype was cocking up, or someone had hacked my account and was stealing my money – which was made possible by the fact that I had selected auto-recharge in my settings.
Keen to resolve the issue as quickly as possible, I went straight online and Googled the number for Skype customer services. Although, I must admit, I wasn't too hopeful that I'd be able to speak to somebody on a Saturday morning.
However, the first page that came up prompted me to log in to my Skype account – which I did – and I was then directed to click on a link to speak to a Skype customer advisor. I'm always quite dubious of these in-browser support functions, as I've often found them to be somewhat automated and annoying, but I was pleasantly surprised to find myself very quickly speaking to a Skype customer agent.
More importantly, I was speaking to a Skype customer agent that wasn't a robot. I was using a digital channel, but I still felt I had a level of human interaction that I required for this sort of query.
Given that at the time when I was speaking to the agent my Skype credit was still being topped up and was just as quickly going down again, they were able to recognise it as fraudulent behaviour. So I was advised to immediately change my password, which I did, and was then asked to fill in an online form answering some security questions and explaining what had occurred.
I was told that I would hear back from someone within 24 hours and would be informed of the outcome. Again, I was quite wary of the use of the online form, as they usually slip into some other departmental silo and there is typically some back and forth, which means your query is never resolved in the agreed timeframe. Read my story on Virgin Media for an example of that.However, much to my surprise within just a few hours I got an email from Skype telling me that all my money had been reimbursed (which it had) and that I needed to reactivate my account to ensure that it was now secure. Done.
I was gobsmacked. The whole process from start to finish had been resolved in a few hours without me having to pick up a phone or argue with anyone.
Well done Skype. A really great example of how digital channels can be used to reduce friction with the consumer and deliver excellent customer service.
And although my account was hacked and I had money stolen from me, the way in which Skype dealt with my problem has left me feeling very positive about the brand, when I had no opinion other way previously. That's what good digital customer service can do to your relationship with your customers.