My experience with Simplify Commerce exemplifies the most important lesson in customer service: pick up the phone. Make sure you employ this lesson in your own business before its too late.
First a little background. I started a new business this past summer to help accountants and bookkeepers stand out in their extremely competitive industry. Just like any start-up, we set up our new office, hired our staff, and configured our e-commerce components. The shopping cart we selected was 1ShoppingCart (highly recommended), the merchant service provider was Simplify Commerce (avoid at all costs).
As I configured the shopping cart, Simplify Commerce was presented as the “suggested” credit card processor. Perhaps Simplify is part of 1ShoppingCart, or maybe it has a referral alliance or possibly they paid 1ShoppingCart a lot for the exposure. Regardless, it is highly influential marketing. It is just like your doctor suggesting the specialist you go to. If they suggest it, you do it. I followed suit and selected Simplify Commerce.
The setup was easy. The pricing and fees were not even close to competitive (albeit I only figured that out in retrospect since I didn’t take the time to competitively shop). Our first few payments processed, and then the first problem arose.
Our per day release of funds was capped to $500. I inquired with Simplify Commerce to see what we could do to resolve this. My emails to support where 1. not responded to 2. pointed the finger to underwriting and left me on my own to resolve with them.
Now, I get that we were a new company and that Simplify Commerce needs to mitigate its risk. But there is a lot more to us, that the simple application we submitted wouldn’t explain. So I just wanted to hop on the phone with someone at Simplify Commerce to explain more about our organization and to see what we needed to do to get past this problem. Welcome to problem number two.
Simplify Commerce doesn’t like to talk with their customers. Email communication are their preference – scratch that – no communication is their preference. Some technical questions were answered by their techie guy (he even picked up the phone and called us a few times). But the financial decision makers (ahem, underwriting) would never pick up the phone. Just abrupt emails, that came out of no where.
One email, one day stating that the $500 limit was adjusted up. One email, one day stating that since we took a client payment for an annual membership our account was on hold (as in we could continue to collect payments, but that Simplify Commerce would permanently withhold the funds until the situation was resolved… via email). One email, one day saying our account was reopened. Then the next day that it was on hold.
Finally out of pure frustration, I wrote the most aggressive email I could, hoping it would somehow get someone to call me. It worked! 48 hours after demanding I talk with someone, a person actually called me.
After thirty minutes on the phone, we resolved everything. Our account was fully cleared, funds were released. As we completed the call, the underwriter said “I wasn’t aware of how established your company and brand was. I wish we had known this. Your account is fully open.”
“I wish we had known this?” How absurd! Simplify Commerce did everything in its power to not learn about my business (their client). Simplify Commerce did everything it could to avoid communication with me (their client). Simplify Commerce did everything it could to make it difficult to do business with me (their client).
I left Simplify Commerce that day for a new merchant service provider, NMI (highly recommended). Oh, and during the on-boarding process, the NMI representative called me. We have talked multiple times since. The result of being able to talk with someone? We have received inter-change plus rates (far better rates than Simplify Commerce), we can accept annual member payments (something Simplify Commerce prohibits), we have no cap on receivables (something Simplify Commerce forced on us) and, surprise, surprise we have access to real live humans. Twenty four by seven.
The lesson is this. Customer service boils down communication. Landing a customer is the easy part, keeping is even easier, if you simply talk to them. Make sure you regularly communicate with your customers and you make it easy for them to talk to you when they want. The “savings” you achieve by making it impossible for customers to talk with you will cost you in the long run.
Ironically, when I tweeted out to Simplify Commerce that I was going to share my bad experience with them in this blog post, they called me immediately. Did you read that? They called me! Doh!
My suggestion to Simplify Commerce (and to you if you have customers) is this: Call your customer’s while you have them, not when you lost them. Communication is king.