I’ve been meaning to write something on customer service inspired by the following.
I can understand that customer service might not be as important if youre a company working on volumes with extremely small margins, but if youre a service company, such as a restaurant, the experience your customers receive will ultimately affect the amount of business you generate. Such a simple concept, do right by your customers and they will come.
Which is why it baffles me when restaurants get this completely wrong. To show what Im trying to explain, Ill share with you the terrible experience I had recently eating lunch at Pizzadelic (a local Pizza restaurant). This includes having someone elses bill in my pizza crust!
How you treat your customers has a HUGE impact on how your company is perceived. Good service-oriented companies know that people will buy more and more quickly if they know any defects or problems, or even second thoughts, will be dealt with in a comfortable, friendly manner.
All that said, I had an experience last week that must be published.
Almost a year ago – call it 330 days ago, I managed to purchase a laser rangefinder (Sightmark brand). It was heavily discounted and much cheaper than most rangefinders — but still more than I really wanted to spend. I used the rangefinder one time in October, and it worked delightfully and proved to be very useful. I tried to use it on a very cold elk hunting trip, and it failed on me. I assumed it was a cold-induced weak battery. When I got home, I bought replacement batteries and thought no more of it. I replaced the battery and tried to use the rangefinder this September and found that it still did not function — and it had a rattle. I opened the case and found that a part had come unglued – maybe because of the cold.
So – now I have an expensive toy almost a year old that doesn’t work. Good news – Sightmark’s manufacturer warranty is one year, and I have a couple of weeks in which to act. Bad news – Sightmark no longer sells any kind of rangefinder. They told me they could not repair it, probably would not get a refurbished unit any time soon, and they could offer me credit (not cash) toward something else I don’t want. My best bet “since I still have the receipt” is to “take it to Big 5 Sporting Goods” where I bought it in the first place. As If.
So, since I don’t currently want anything Sightmark sells, I took my 330 day old receipt to Big 5 Sporting Goods, with expectations of rejection. I spoke with Jason, who happened to be the manager on duty. He explained that the closest comparable unit was not really comparable – it’s $100 more and has never been on sale. He offered a modest discount and I offered that they could cut further into their margin to make me happy. For the record, I actually offered to split the difference, which would leave me $50 out of pocket. Jason told me that he did not have the authority to discount that deeply, but — and here’s where the lesson starts — “corporate” did have that authority, they often were willing to work with customers like me, and he would send an email to start the discussion.
This all happened on a Friday, so I had to wait until Monday to check back. I didn’t get to it on Monday, and called on Tuesday, when a different manager was on duty. She picked up on my issue and realized that there was an email for me. “Corporate” gave the go-ahead on a discount to $139 plus a 10% discount if I signed up for their email list. That brought the price down to three cents over my original purchase price! On top of that, the manager found a loose nickel and paid the balance for me.
I started this whole process a year ago with the opinion that Big 5 was a discounted close-outs, buyer beware kind of place. I had an item almost a year old that the manufacturer wouldn’t support, and Big 5 (and Jason) stepped in with compassion and respect and made me more than whole. I now have a better Simmons rangefinder, I’m not out any money, and I have a very different impression of Big 5. Thanks Big 5, and Jason in particular.