Fail, fail, fail, fail…

I’m writing this after just getting off the phone with Great Big Gun Accessory Company That Everyone Knows. I’m not pissed, just a little disgusted. I got a 130 dollar tool made by that company, from an Idaho retailer, and the tool is defective.

I called the retailer about it immediately. After some vacillation (first fail) and some obvious back-and-forth amongst the person who took my call and someone else (second fail) they referred me to the manufacturer (third fail).

I then called Great Big Gun Accessory Company That Everyone Knows and got put on hold by a robot. OK; that’s sort of tolerable, as it’s a busy time of day for a busy company in a very busy industry. After only two or three minutes I got a person. I got directly to the point; I had ordered this tool and it has some bad threads.

She actually muttered under her breath at me, as though she’d been robbed few minutes ago and I had just threatened her for her wallet; “Oh, good God…” (fourth fail). She then had to put me on hold (fifth fail) to talk to someone else (sixth fail) after which she went on and on in her Eeyore/Marvin the Paranoid Android tone, (seventh fail) about oh, woe is us; we’re juuust swamped with customer service… (eighth fail) and that she’d take my name and number and someone would call me back, maybe today but probably tomorrow (ninth fail).

There’s a point to all of this, mind you. This isn’t so I can vent my frustration– I’m not frustrated. I got this tool on a lark, because I thought it would be something fun to try. Well, all the fun has been drained right out, but it’s not frustrating in any way because I really have no “need” for this item than can’t be served with tools I already have.

The point is; if you’re in business and you have a customer who has a problem, AND you’re capable of solving said problem, then DO IT, RIGHT NOW. Your customers will absolutely love you for it, and your service will have been so unusually simple and easy that they’ll tell everyone they know about you. That two or three dollars, to fifty or 60 dollars it actually cost you to SOLE THE CUSTOMER’S PROBLEM STRAIGHT AWAY will have been your cheapest and most effective advertizing ever!

The retailer could have solved my problem immediately, without even thinking about it, if they’d simply send me a new part. “No problem, Mister Keeney; we’ll get you another part out to you right now, and you’ll have it tomorrow. Sorry about the inconvenience.”

That is our goal, but we don’t always reach it (for one thing, there is internal disagreement on its merits, if you can believe that). It is an ideal, which will rarely be met in all cases, but it is none the less THE ideal.

This is so very simple, and so very obvious, that practically all businesses fail to consider it. The few who do will rule the retail world. All the rest will have every excuse in the book why they don’t do it, and they’ll all be very reasonable and thoroughly justifiable excuses.

If you HAVE THE ABILITY to solve the customer’s problem RIGHT NOW, that is an OPPORTUNUTY for you and your company. Don’t miss the opportunity.

Meanwhile, after talking to two people, at two companies, each of whom had the ability to solve my problem right then and there, each of whom had to talk to at least one other person who also had the ability to solve my problem right then and there, I’ll be waiting for a phone call (not a replacement part, mind you, not even a promise of a replacement part, but a phone call) that may or may not come in the next 24 hours.

The time it took either one of the two people I spoke with to hum and haw and consult with peers and finally get around to telling me to call somewhere else or to take my name and number for someone else to get back to me, THEY COULD HAVE SOLVED MY PROBLEM RIGHT THEN AND THERE, and so you see, it would be far MORE EFFICIENT just for them, which would free up more customer service representatives to help more customers.

This isn’t rocket surgery.


13 thoughts on “Fail, fail, fail, fail…

  1. Why are you not listing the name of Great Big Gun Accessory Company With Poor Customer Service, that we may shame them publicly?

    • Because it would serve no purpose but mostly because it is beside the point. That kind of service is common and I’d rather talk about those who are uncommonly good;

      When I bought a printer from Wal Mart, unpacked it all and tried it out, and then decided I didn’t like it, I took it back to their customer service counter. They took it back without so much as blinking an eye. There was nothing wrong with it, either, and I told them so. I just didnt want it. The nice lady at the counter didn’t have to call the manager, or have a pow wow with anyone, or sigh and sag her shoulders and roll her eyes either– She simply solved the “problem” immediately so we could all get on with our lives.

      THAT is customer service, and you know what else? I’ve spent, oh, at a guess, twenty thousand dollars at that particular Wal Mart, maybe more. I look like a bum, too. Would it make the slightest bit of sense for them, or any business, to lose a customer over a 50 dollar printer? No. I wouldn’t make any sense for them to spend one more minute of their Human Resources to dilly-dally, hem and haw, dwaddle, or hesitate for one second over such a thing.

      As I say; IT IS AN OPPORTUNITY to be able to help a customer with a problem that YOU can solve RIGHT NOW. So jump on it.

      THAT is the point.

      • Wal-Mart then had to sell another 500 dollars of merchandise to pay for the printer that they could no longer sell as new nor return to the manufacturer as defective. So they raised their prices to make up for the loss. Thanks Lyle.

        • You’re right – Wal Mart’s prices are terribly high – you totally got me there.

          No, see; they make up for the minimal loss by A; not wasting precious Human Resources on arguing about it, and B; by getting my NEXT 20 thousand dollars of business.

  2. In customer service, there are only two cards on the table when there’s a product problem like this. As a representative of a company you must pick up the “This is an outrage and must never happen again” card. The customer can then pick up the “Oh, no, it’s nothing” card and you still have a customer. Pick up the other card and you not only lose a customer, you lose the people he tells about the problem.

  3. I reload ammo, most of my stuff is RCBS (I live close by to their manufacturing plant) and Hornady. Great customer service from both. Broke a threaded part on an RCBS hand primer, went in there for a replacement (I would’ve paid, it was my fault), they gave me two (just in case) for free. No questions asked. I recently bought a Hornady strip light for my press. It worked for a minute then shorted out. Coulda been something I did, and I told them that. They didn’t care, shipped me a new one in the mail next day. That’s how customer service should be, and those two companies (and a few others I know that think the same way) will always be rewarded with my business.

  4. When we were bought by Big Defense Contractor, they stated their goal was outstanding customer service. They rated their customer satisfaction at 55% and were quite happy. Ours was 97% but we were suppose to try and change our system of customer support to their process. We were stunned.

    Our customers went bonkers. I watched an 0-7 tear into the head of military sales on the list of support problem, order screw ups and bad invoices. He pointed at me and said they don’t F’up everything they touch. His program had one POC (me) and that person took care of everything.

    Big Defense Contractor fixed the issue by laying off 3/4 of us including me and ended up selling the group of after 5 years.

  5. I had a similar experience with Dominos pizza in my hometown a while back and swore off them for good as a result. Shoulda stuck with locally owned pizzerias in the first place, but I went with lowest cost and got the lowest service with it. I called to place the order and when person 1 answered, I asked about specials and she said “Hang on one sec,” then I heard her say “I don’t have time for this, someone else needs to take this call or put him on hold.” No, you DO have time for this because it’s your JOB to take my call. Then person 2 gets on the phone, and she deceived me into thinking I was talking to a diligent employee who wanted to help me, just by the pleasant tone of her voice (pleasant tones go a LONG way in the service industry). So when I get my order in, she says it’ll be however many minutes and I said I wanted to pay by card, does she need the number? Pleasant tone gone, I hear the phone get set down and she says, “someone come take this guy’s credit card number,” in an extremely exasperated tone. Shoulda just hung up then, but I ended up giving my card number to person 3 after a minute or two wait. I was pissed and planning on contacting the manager about the attitudes of their employees. So pizza shows up and the delivery guy hands me the bill and I asked where to sign. He says they told him I was paying in cash. I didn’t have enough cash on hand to pay it, and he couldn’t accept a check, but he’d call them up so I could (re-)give them my card number. I asked if I could add a tip even without something to sign and he said he didn’t think so but assured me it was okay. Now this guy, who was all smiles and pleasantries and accommodating, was what employees should be. He probably had other pizzas in his car getting cold and HE was the one who did not have time for this because his coworkers should have set him up correctly for the delivery, but they didn’t and made it his problem, and he maintained his cool throughout and never stopped trying to find a solution. I (re-)gave my number over the phone and he smiled and said sorry and that he hoped we enjoyed our pizzas and I was able to find $15 in cash and gave it to him as a tip and asked that he forward my frustration to management. Was it more than he deserved for doing his job? It’s not about that, he helped me when his coworkers messed up my order and screwed him over by passing on their responsibilities to him. I worked in that industry for 8 years. I delivered room service by myself in a 240 room hotel, I was responsible for taking orders when I wasn’t on delivery and entering ALL orders into the kitchen. I took tables in the restaurant while simultaneously delivering room service when it was busy. I ran food and bussed tables and seated guests because I believe in good service. I was there to help guests and my coworkers and I’ll be damned if I ever uttered the phrase, “That’s not my job.” And because of that, I earned more money than the cutest waitress we had, I even rivaled the bartenders in tips earned and no other servers came close to that. And I think it’s all because I wanted people to enjoy themselves, even when I was on the brink of failure. Even when guests were mad at me, I stayed calm and tried to help or fix mistakes and smile. I was also supervisor too, and had those additional responsibilities. But these “not my job” people want $15/hour, are you kidding me? I certainly wasn’t worth that.

  6. I had a situation once where I traveled overseas, and made sure to switch my cellphone, ahead of time, to a calling plan that would cover me there. I spoke multiple times to the phone company, explained exactly what I wanted and why I wanted it, and was reassured multiple times that I would be covered, no problem. When I got back and faced a thousand-dollar phone bill, I called the phone company and asked them: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? They then explained that, no, I’d signed up for a plan that enabled me to CALL that country from HOME. But while in that country, I pay roaming rates.

    I proceeded to speak to numerous representatives and numerous supervisors, none of whom could help me. I kept pushing. I eventually spoke to a low-level peon, who pulled up my records and admitted that I had been promised exactly what I said I’d been promised. He then said: “Look, sir, you were promised $0.10 per minute. Would you find it acceptable if I retroactively change each of your overseas phone calls to that rate?” I told him that that was EXACTLY what I wanted. He said, “Fine, sir, I’ll do that. The only problem is, my system only lets me make one change at a time. You made a lot of calls, sir, so this is going to take me a while.” I reassured him that that was fine, and I’d keep him company while he did so. It took him almost an hour, but he got my thousand-dollar phone bill down to $79.

    Now THAT is customer service — and it didn’t take a manager. It took someone willing to take responsibility for doing right by a customer, whether it was “his job” or not.

    I thanked the guy profusely, and told him that if he ever visited Boston, the drinks were on me. He thanked me and said he was AA, but thanks anyway. What a guy!!

  7. I used to tech support at MSFT. I did it well. I was that guy that did my best to figure out what the root issue was, and get it squared away. I dealt with everything from “Payroll is due in three hours, I can’t find the HD, and it’s my job if it doesn’t go out!” doing DOS support to “I can’t find Fiji in Flight Sim… (using a shower-curtain world map)”
    Part of the reason I quit was they were outsourcing a lot of front line support, and there was a huge push to reduce call times and going to a “reformat, reinstall, and call us again if it still doesn’t work!” model. I wanted to identify the problem and fix it. So, it was time to change careers.

  8. I recently ordered some ammo from LuckyGunner. Some of the ammo came in a plastic “can”. When I opened the box the can had broken in two, spilling the ammo into the box.

    Was not a big deal to me, but I took a couple of pictures and sent it to Lucky Gunner’s customer service just as a FYI. I also said that maybe bubble wrap instead of wadded paper might have prevented the breakage.

    I would have been very happy with a “thanks for letting us know” email. But they also gave me a $10 off coupon on my next order of $100 or more just to thank me for sending the pictures. That little gesture will make them my #1 ammo site for the foreseeable future (unless they really start messing things up).

    Rocket science it isn’t. Just make sure you take care of your customers and be nice to them.

  9. What any business needs to realize is that they NEED your money. So, first answer the damn phone NO EXCUSES ! Do not tell me to hold, build better products so you are not overwhelmed by service calls. If I have to hold to speak to customer service you have lost my business. I do not do business with people that do not care about their product, I can buy it else where or will do without.

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