Customer Service? What's That?

AR-cust s.jpgYesterday, I tried to open my Adobe Lightroom 3 program so I could adjust some images for AudiophileReview.com and it froze, repeatedly. After googling the problem and trying a few suggested pList deletions, I called Adobe's customer support line.

Adobe has added the "call-back" feature so you can schedule a return call from one of their support "experts." Ever since I first tried the call back support feature on the Sonos support site I use it whenever it's available. It sure beats waiting on the phone cue. At Adobe the service works a bit differently. You get a call back, but you still have to wait on the line for several minutes for the first available operator. Bummer.

Adobe uses an offshore call center. From the background walla I suspect the center is located in China. Frankly, I don't care if a call center is in China, India, Mexico, or even Canada, as long as they deliver good support and help me solve my problem.

After 45 minutes with the call center expert, who spent a majority of his time reading online adobe manuals so he could deliver the same stock answers that I found on these same support pages which I had read before calling in, I suggested he set up a mirroring of my display so he could see my desktop. After spending another 10 minutes setting up the session we set up a new user account in the Apple OS and opened up Lightroom 3. 

Once my expert had determined that Lightroom had opened in the new user account, he told me "I have determined that this is not a Lightroom problem. It is an operating system problem since Lightroom opened in the new user account. Contact Apple support." He sounded quite happy, and no doubt he was, because as it dawned on me while I was emptying one of my cats' litter boxes, his job wasn't to FIX the problem. It was merely to determine whether the problem was an Adobe problem or not. If not, his job was successfully finished. By his standards he had done his job, but he certainly had not delivered any service or solved his customer's problem.

Let's adapt this service model to audio for a moment. Imagine calling up the retailer where you bought your stereo system because of an intermittent noise problem only to be told, "That's a cable problem, call the cable manufacturer." I would probably put that retailer on my "no fly zone" for future purchases.

Two audio/computer companies who do have good customer support are Logitech and Sonos. They both get it. All a customer really wants is to use a product successfully. Customer support's primary job MUST be to make this happen. Both companies support remote desktop systems so their experts (who in this case DO deserve that designation) can take control of your computer, tell you what they are going to do, and make all the changes needed to your system to make everything work smoothly. That's customer support.

I've been using Adobe products since the days of Pagemaker II and I remember getting excellent support multiple times over the years for Photoshop problems. But my latest Lightroom experience has left me with the distinct feeling that Lightroom has a lower level of support than Adobe's other products. Next paid upgrade I'll probably migrate to Apple's Aperture. At least I'll get decent customer support.

BTW. I finally got Lightroom 3 to work properly by deleting a library index file and selecting my last Lightroom2 library index file as its replacement. I only had to reenter three months' worth of images and I was back in business. Why couldn't Adobe's support person figure this out? Because he didn't care.


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