It’s time for another customer service anti-rant! Every now and then, I write about instances of excellent or notable service. A recent example is a long-time provider of search engine optimisation (SEO) tools, HitTail.
I’ve had an account with HitTail for many years now, and have got a lot out of it. They have provided me with a valuable (and very clever) service for some of my clients that I would have been hard-pressed to find anywhere else. In a nutshell, they watch the web searches that lead to my site, and make suggestions of which keywords I should use in my next article or blog post on those sites. The keyword suggestions are sorted by their likelihood of increasing traffic, and therefore whenever I have time to write up a few blog posts, I visit HitTail first and fetch the first few suggestions on the list, which become the subjects of my new posts. Most SEO providers come up with “long tail” keywords by looking at traffic logs for hours and guessing. Using HitTail has allowed me to focus on just a handful of keywords and thus apply my time most effectively, only writing posts for those keywords that sure to generate more traffic.
A while back, HitTail moved from their “freemium” model to a paid model. This is understandable, because each hit on each page of each site of each HitTail customer, generates some processing on the HitTail server and database. That’s a lot of resources, so I wasn’t surprised when they did this. Unfortunately it meant that my account (free in the past) was changed to a limited time trial account. Now I only get around to SEO article-writing once in a while, and so the account expired before I was able to make use of HitTail’s keyword suggestions once last time. I was sent an email explaining that the account had timed out and been deactivated, and that I would need to register for one of the paid products in order to continue using it.
This was a sad day for me, as I had banked up keyword suggestions over the past 6 months or more, and I really didn’t want to loose them. Getting this level of keyword suggestions in any way other than HitTail is really not viable for someone with just a few SEO clients, with a limited budget, and it’s not something that can be coded in-house without a significant software development investment.
Being in the service industry myself, and knowing what I’d do if the situations were reversed, I decided to ask HitTail if they would consider allowing me to make use of the latest keyword suggestions without upgrading to a paid account. Within a few hours, I received a response explaining that they were willing to offer me a FREE account for a year, to allow me to collect those keywords and make use of them. To say that I’m overjoyed with this outcome is an understatement. This kind of customer service is rare these days, and HitTail have now set the bar very high on customer service.
It seems to me that what we see most of the time, are companies that view customer service as a tedious but necessary part of doing business. But occasionally, companies like HitTail come along and turn the model on its head, by viewing customer service as an opportunity to grow their business by actively making – and keeping – customers happy.