We believe companies have a duty to take care of their customers before, during, and after a sale. This is especially true in an industry like water filtration where you are buying a product that is designed to last for decades.
For products that make it through the initial stages of our rigorous review process, we subject companies to a customer service test to see how well they take care of people and what kind of relationship you can expect to have should you decide to buy.
Reviews left on a company’s website, as well as on marketplaces, should always be taken with a grain of salt. Disgruntled customers can’t always be trusted. But we still take a look.
When we do, we’re on the hunt for two things:
- Repeated complaints about the sales team or customer service operation: If one person is unhappy, that could be an isolated incident. If lots and lots of people have something to say, that’s a different story.
For example, if a company has lots of negative reviews because people felt like a salesperson was dishonest or misleading in any way, that’s a huge red flag that we’re going to investigate further.
- How a company responds: People are always going to have something to complain about, whether it’s justified or not. But how a company responds says a lot. Do they fight back and argue? Or do they empathize with the customer and try to offer some sort of solution? Or do they not respond at all? That says something too.
Whenever possible, we try to verify claims made by reviewers. For example, if someone does complain about a dishonest or misleading sales rep, we’re going to get on the phone and raise some of the same questions to see what happens. If the claims are valid, we toss that company out of the running right away.
While we all want the companies we buy from to be there for us, it is a pain to have to pick up a phone and call customer service. A lot of questions can be answered without doing this if the company provides the right resources.
Most customers prefer this type of support over being forced to pick up the phone. For this reason, we ask questions that can tell us exactly utilize to contact customer service:
- Is there a FAQ section on the site with detailed answers to help you solve some of the more common questions you might have?
- Do they have installation videos or guides on their websites that make it super easy to know what to do and get help?
- Is there a blog that walks you through the ownership experience and provides ongoing support?
- Is there a chat feature available to expedite simple questions?
- If you email customer service, does anyone actually read it?
Real Person Test
Not every question can be answered for you with digital resources. Wacky stuff happens all the time, or perhaps you have a question about a product you’re considering buying.
Automated customer service tools are all the rage today, but they’re also quite annoying and not always helpful. If we’re going to recommend a product, we want to make sure you’ll be able to reach a real person if you have an issue, and we want to see how long it takes or how hard it is to do that.
If a company has an online chat feature, we will initiate a number of conversations and see how long it takes to get to a real person. We’ll also call into the customer service department and see what that process is like and about how long we have to wait on hold to get to a real person.
If hold times are long, do they have a call back feature so that you don’t waste time listening to elevator music?
To make sure we’re giving the company a fair chance, we’ll call in several times, at least five, to compare experiences.
We don’t run this test on every company, only those that make it onto our final list. We try to ask complex questions to see how they respond and what the whole experience is like.
This way, if you buy from a company we recommend, you can be ready to have an excellent customer experience before, during, and after your purchase.
A well-written, easy-to-understand user manual is a really simple yet often overlooked component of the user experience.
How many times have you bought a product, opened the user manual, and then set it right back down because the instructions were so unclear they were useless? Probably a lot, which is why we look at this stuff.
We’re experts on water filtration, so we examine user manuals from the perspective of someone who knows very little. Is there a lot of jargon that makes it confusing? Are the pictures clear and easy to understand? Is there quality troubleshooting information?
A quality customer service approach should get you help as quickly as possible without wasting anyone’s time. A good user manual is an important part of this.
It’s our hope, and a company’s job, to make sure you’re buying the right product for you. But sometimes we get it wrong. Or sometimes your needs change. Good companies, those we’re going to recommend, are aware of this and have generous return or refund policies.
Of course, we don’t expect companies to just blindly refund your money after years of ownership. That’s not how business works. But being open to the reality that things change, as well as giving people a chance to return a product in case it doesn’t work out, speaks volumes about a company’s dedication to its customers.
Plus, if a company offers a money-back guarantee, that says to us that it stands by its products and is, at the very least, worth considering.
Reviews You Can Count On
As part of our rigorous product research and testing methodology, we look at every aspect of buying and owning a water filtration system. Customer service is just one of many important factors we consider and is a major part of our water filter review process that allows us to create reviews you can count on.