Hidden Features in Finale and SmartMusic

With the release of each new version of SmartMusic or Finale, we publicize all the new features and benefits we’ve added. But while one aspect of both SmartMusic and Finale has seen continual improvements, it remains largely unsung. I’m thinking of our customer support.

I joined MakeMusic in 1993 as a technical support representative.  At the time if you had a question that wasn’t answered in the Finale manuals, we offered three options: you could write us a letter, send us a fax, or call us. Much has changed in the intervening years, including additions to the Finale family, SmartMusic, e-mail, and the Internet.

While previous blogs have spoken about improvements made in the area of our Finale documentation, user manuals are just part of the support we offer. In addition to searchable electronic help within all of our products, we offer QuickStart Videos, an on-line Knowledge Base, a trackable case system, and more technological innovations, many of which can be accessed here. But at the heart of our support are the people who provide it. And they have seen improvements too.

While some might suggest that the act of transferring me out of the support department represented a significant improvement to our support team, I’m thinking more in terms of training, which was minimal in 1993. Today our support staff goes through extensive training, not only on the sale and use of our products, and troubleshooting in general, but also in the art of providing helpful service. In addition, when you call, our phone system knows which members of our support staff are best trained to help – whether you’re calling to purchase or for support, or about Finale or SmartMusic – and it routes your call appropriately.

Our case system also ensures that the inquiries you send via our website are routed properly as well. In short, better infrastructure, combined with a dedication to staffing, has resulted in prompt, quality help.

You needn’t take my word for it. We regularly receive kudos for the service our support staff provides. Here’s a sample:

“Thank you for your help and advice. You “guys” are terrific. The promptness of your replies is to be commended, and they were always appreciated.”

“Your customer service is amazing… Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

“I have to say, I’ve called a couple of times this week, and it’s so great to actually get a person. When I call an unnamed company … it takes a half-hour to get through to them, if you’re lucky. So it’s really nice, thank you so much for being there.”

“Thank you really so much for your time and help … I’m a professional, I write music for TV, I’ve been in the business a long time and I’m a bit of a dork in terms of some of the computer stuff, and I just can’t tell you how nice it is to have such good feedback, and for what it’s worth, I will pass this lovely positive information to all my friends who are also in the business.”

But all this is about how you reach us, and today’s support doesn’t end there. We also contact you.

For example, our SmartMusic educator accounts are set up to ensure that educators have uninterrupted access to their student records. As such these accounts differ from student accounts in that they automatically renew each year. Prior to charging any educator’s credit card, however, we contact them via email – and mail – to confirm they still wish to renew. Here’s how one customer recently responded to one such letter:

“In these days of every man for himself and companies that gleefully charge you without notice, your customer service stands out. What a breath of fresh air to read the letter you sent. To take the time to provide customer service like this during these times of diminishing services, I applaud you.

And twice, over the years, when I have called [you] for help, your customer service team not only answered the phone in person, but they were responsive and solution-oriented. Bravo! I work in customer service myself so I love to see great customer service. Keep up the great work.”

In closing, I’m trying to make two points. First that our excellent support staff is a major feature to consider when evaluating SmartMusic or Finale (and when I say “Finale” I mean the entire Finale family of music notation software).

And second, I’d like to formally recognize the great work that our support team does, not only in helping you, but in refining how they help you.  As part of this, I’d like to point out that we highlight members of the support team in a series of “Meet the Team” posts on the SmartMusic blog. This is a great way to put some faces to the names, and get a sense of the vast musical and technical backgrounds these folks bring to our company.

Have you contacted our support staff? Please share your experiences by clicking on “Comments” below.

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