Adobe Customer Service – On the mend? Time will tell.

Adobe has officially done it.

It is a big step for a large public company to take, to admit that things are wrong. To apologize and to explain the steps being taken to correct a problem that has gotten out of control.

Such is the case with Adobe’s customer service. While customers have complained with increasing frequency in industry forums, and even Adobe’s own user communities and blogs, little has been done, or so it seemed.

Until now.

Lambert Walsh, Adobe’s Vice President of Technical Services, has issued an open letter to Adobe Customers (link opens as a pdf). In his letter, Mr. Walsh attempts reparations for the decline in the quality of customer service, explains some of the reasons for the slip-ups, and offers hope that the root cause of the problems is being addressed, while offering some additional contacts for help should any customer feel they are not being cared for as expected.

Additionally, John Nack, Adobe’s Principal Product Manager for Photoshop, has posted a blog entry on the subject, and that entry is seeing some lively conversation in the comments. John is to be commended for being very visible on the front lines and for taking quite a few shots from disgruntled customers via his blog comments.

Will Adobe get their service back on track? Only time will tell. Making a visible public statement and admitting the problem is certainly a positive first step. Follow through and eventual improvement will be a tougher, longer term challenge for the company.

In the meanwhile, Adobe’s executives can take a lesson from Mr. Nack – every Adobe person in sales, marketing, product development, and quality assurance should be required to spend a fixed time – say, 1-2 hours each week – supplementing the technical support telephone lines and talking with customers. Let them use the phone systems, the troubleshooting databases, and all the call management systems used by the customer services representatives we’ve loved to hate. I daresay the experience would be eye-opening!

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