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Radiohead Customer Service

I’ve always felt that customer service in e-commerce is vital – that you only get one chance to stuff up a relationship with a customer; that you’re competing with Amazon (who in my experience have crap customer service, but the perception is that they are the high water mark); and that you should do everything to turn potential “bad” word of mouth into “good”.

[For example, when I used to run the old Canongate web site, we had a decent and growing community of readers who bought books loyally and regularly. If an order ever went missing - or was claimed to - I'd get a duplicate sent out first class, along with a hand-written apology, and a "special" free gift, albeit something lying around in the office - Rebel Inc Playing Cards; Snowblind Ltd Edition credit cards, a catalogue or CD or something. I thought that would dispel any negative feelings and re-dispose customers to shop with us.]

So when I didn’t get my Radiohead login yesterday, I was a bit sad. The web was afire with everyone saying how amazing it is.

So I looked through my proof-of-purchase email to see if there was a contact detail for any problems: nothing.

I went to the site to see if there was any contact info, to be met with a login box only (which of course I could’t use). I googled “I haven’t got my radiohead login let” only to be lead to a 404 on the Radiohead forum.

Panic. (At this point all the subliminal fears I’d had – and read – about the site being a bit shonky came to the fore: maybe they didn’t have any customer service in place? And were too un-touchable to do support? Too cool for consumer rights?)

So I replied to the email politely saying what the problem was, half-expecting the email address to be and getting an instant bounce. I got an instant reply – but it wasn’t a bounce:

Thank you for your message.
Here is some information which may answer your question….

If you are having problems placing an order please check that your cookies are enabled. You may need to try a new browser and you may need to use a new e-mail address if you failed to place an order with your original e-mail address. You can track successful orders by following this link.

If you are yet to receive your activation code (please check your spam filters) or are having download problems please e-mail

Please contact us again next week with any Discbox postal address changes.

Please do not e-mail us more than once. We are dealing with all
enquiries as quickly as possible.

Thank you


So, I checked my spam filters – nothing.

I went to my webmail archive and did a search for “rainbows” and thought that if any spam-merchant wanted to get a really high click-thru rate this week, they should have timed a message with “In Rainbows Activation Code” in the subject line.

Nothing in my spam box.

So I emailed, and by return – by return! – got an automated response with a unique generated login for getting the album.

10 seconds later it was downloading at 400 kb/s and I was happy.

There was no validation, no email or reference number required – just an auto-reply with a link to a copy of the album. (I didn’t want to push my luck by trying it from an un-authorised email account, but my bet is it would work). In other words – Radiohead decided that no customer service – but instead a no-quibble “free” copy to any unhappy customer – is the best way to go. And I’m sure they’re right.

The moral? Well – it may be oblique, but Radiohead has, in the end, good customer services. The whole experience reiterated some interesting feelings about “trust” and how it is communicated in design and “experience” execution when it comes to ecommerce – and to be frank they didn’t win my trust on this, despite the outcome – but that in the end, it’s the outcome that matters.

I’ll go listen to the album now.

Posted by Peter Collingridge in Web.

Apt’s links for October 10th // Apt’s links for October 11th

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