Gray Watson Personal Thoughts 2002.11.08
CheckFree's Excellent Customer Service

I have enough rants in my list here about bad customer service such as my UBid Experiences that I should also talk about good service.

I recently purchased Quicken 2003 for the Macintosh. The port looks really good. It is highly similar in look and feel from the classic version just with the carbonized interface and integration. When I ran the program it prompted me for the old version of my data and it seemed to import it without incident. However, when I went to pay my first bill online, things started to get a bit screwy. I tried to pay my credit card company $384.47 but when it went to send the transaction, it said it was paying them $10.00. Doh! After fighting with Intuit support who were basically worthless, I finally got my data properly converted to 2003.

However, when I went to send my new bills to Quicken Billpay which is run by CheckFree, I got some very strange and scary transactions back which seemed to indicate that Quicken had posted 300 bills that it should not have.

I rushed over to the phone and dialed Checkfree's 800 number. It rang once, a recording got halfway through the standard "your call is important to us" and I was talking to a human. 15 seconds to get a human at [wait for it] 12:18 in the morning. Their system recognized my telephone number so my account was already up on his screen and all I had to do is verify some personal information. It took him all of 10 seconds to relieve me with "no sir, I only show 5 new bills outstanding". Seems their system filled in some of the transactions that Quicken could not convert.

I did not ask his name because this call to Checkfree was in no way extraordinary. I have talked to them a couple of times at all hours of the day with very similar results. Their customer service people seem to be polite and highly competent.

Unfortunately, I cannot provide a link to plug them because most of their their products are backend banking services for institutions like Intuit. Most of the billpaying systems in the US seem to be run by them. I know when I talk to the billing departments to tell them that my gas bill might be a couple of days late, and say that I paid it online via CheckFree, they always know what I am talking about and often say that that is the only online service they accept.

In any case, I would like to congratulate them on excellent customer service. It seems that since the Web, we put up with a lot more bad service since most of the online transactions are designed to never have you interact with a human. Although price is still important, I will always check out Bizrate.com and/or Reseller Ratings before I buy anything on the web these days. I also take it upon myself to share my experiences with these and other rating services so that others can profit from my experience.

I can share other examples of good customer service. Speakeasy.Net, my excellent DSL provider, has done an excellent job of providing intelligent, interactive tools for its customers which do a lot to deflect customer service calls. They have bills, detailed installation notes, rebates, and other information completely online. They also have some extremely clueful sales and tech support people. Well done!!

The only experience that I can remember where I've been more impressed with customer service was with Cisco. My friend Jason and I decided to install our new router at 0200 Sunday morning. We called tech support and it range twice and then we had a tech. She walked us through our installation problems, helped us upgrade our EEPROM, and answered our dumb questions intelligently. She never asked for our support agreement, or credit card, or anything. Wow. That's hard to beat.

So to Checkfree I raise my glass. I wish you continued success and I thank you for your excellent support. Congratulations on a job well done.

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