Are inbound calls going out of fashion?

Are inbound calls going out of fashion? Thats the question I asked after the new cloud based accounting software company Xero consciously decided not to offer any inbound telephone support.

I wanted to share a recent experience I had with a new, progressive cloud based accounting software company, Xero.

Like many small businesses (and perhaps even a few larger ones) I was attracted like a moth to a flame to their claims of their software making my accounting life easier. Recently launching Contact Centre Central (yes a shameless plug!) I was looking for a easy solution to simplifying my invoicing world.

Along came Xero, with all its shiny bells and whistles that seemed like the perfect fit. At around $40 USD a month its not super cheap (given Foxtel is now only $25 AUD and provides far more entertainment) but as their sales team put it, how much is an hour of your time worth? Clearly not much given I am writing this for free but point taken, if it saves me an hour or two a month then its a bargain!

So off I start on the Xero journey. Lots of online help, some great videos etc plenty of hours configuring invoice templates, inventory items, Chart of Accounts etc and I was feeling all warm and fuzzy about my numbers and even managed to send out a couple of invoices and get paid!

But then tragedy struck, sure its not on the scale of deciding to sell your Apple shares 20 years ago, but I did get to a point that I just couldn’t progress. I searched the online help centre but couldn’t seem to find any answers to the questions in my head. Not to worry right, I’ll just pick up the phone and ask someone?



Which brings me to the crux of my issue. There was no inbound enquiries number anywhere. Yes I even asked Google and got a big fat Zero. Nil. Zilch. NO.

Cutting a long story short (remember the free time I’m spending here!) I contacted their Managing Director directly expressing the frustration with this approach. To be fair, I got an almost immediate reply and a commitment to get a call into me to sort out my issues. The call came not long after and 8 minutes later all my issues had been resolved (Special shout out to Elliot who did a great job!).

With regards to my concerns about the lack of an inbound number though, I was advised that it was a deliberate strategy to not “go down the path of establishing a costly contact centre.” Rather, the preference is to send an email to their support team and “If we deem a ticket to be urgent (eg. payroll issue) or where the customer/partner is not making progress, getting frustrated, etc we do in fact get our Customer Experience reps to pick up the phone and call the customer. “

Personally I find this approach disappointing – I don’t have time to spend drafting up an email trying to explain my issue, waiting around hours/days for a response etc. I just want to talk to somebody and get my issue resolved so I can keep my accountant happy (he’s a big angry man but thats for a different post).

Apparently however Xero have won some awards for their service so I must be out of touch.

According to Fifth Quadrant, Australians pay 14% more for good, consistent Customer Experience. 9 in 10 Australians switch to a competitor because of a poor experience and 8 in 10 actively advise friends and family to avoid companies who provide a poor experience. I would have happily paid a little extra for the phone based support (and the immediacy that comes with it) so I for one agree with those findings.

Now we live in a world were we are blessed to have choices. What do you think of their strategy?

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