A Priority, or a Thing of the Past?
Written By: Troy Tait
I recently had two experiences that made me ask... “Are companies still concerned with creating a high level of customer service?” I know it is something we aspire for at Med One. Maybe working here has created an unrealistic expectation of what customer service should be. I really do wonder if high levels of customer service, in general, are something that will continue or slowly become a thing of the past.
My first example provides strong evidence that there are still companies out there who really value their customers and want to make sure they are happy. After all, it is best to retain customers and build loyal relationships versus constantly trying to find new customers. In this example, my daughter received a pair of shoes as a Christmas present. She was very excited as this was something she really wanted. When she put the shoes on for the first time, a small strap broke making it very difficult to tie the shoe. Needless to say, she was pretty disappointed.
All that disappointment quickly went away when she contacted the company who sold the shoes – Shoetopia through www.jane.com. Without question, they apologized and said they would immediately ship out a new pair of shoes. They said she didn’t need to return the broken pair and again apologized for any inconvenience. This was all done after a simple email message with a picture of the broken shoe. I was blown away. First, by the quick response during the holidays, and second the fact that they didn’t make any excuses. They simply provided a quick solution. My daughter was very happy and jane.com/shoetopia now has a very loyal customer. The best part is she continues to share this story and is helping promote the company in a very positive way.
The second example is one I would consider negative in the sense of customer service. It may be what is right for the company, but definitely not a direction I would take. On December 2nd, our Kenmore Elite refrigerator broke. This would be the 5th major issue with our fridge in less than three years. Fortunately, we purchased the Master Protection Plan. We called and they did a quick evaluation over the phone and determined that the main board had gone out. They scheduled to send a technician out on December 7th to verify. At that appointment, the technician verified the issue and then explained the part would need to be ordered. So, he left and we waited to hear when the repair would be made. Finally, on December 26th, the part arrived and the next available appointment to come install it would be January 5th. Just 36 days after the fridge broke (ps. It isn’t fun going through the holidays without a fridge – especially when you have 65 people attending a Christmas party at your home).
With the new part installed we thought we were good to go. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. We called back again on the 6th reporting that our fridge was still broken. We were told that the soonest they could get someone out to check was January 15th. So, we continued to wait. On this visit it was determined that the main board was not actually the problem, and that it could be a leak in the refrigerant system, or the compressor– he couldn’t really tell. This was something he couldn’t repair and will require another technician to come out on January 23rd to confirm this is the issue and order the parts to make the repair.
January 23rd. The problems are confirmed and now we wait for parts to arrive and have a new repair date of February 8th.“Med One may not be perfect, but we are trying to be perfect in our effort to improve and provide the highest level of customer service.”
January 29th, we get a call saying the parts are on back-order and won’t ship from Korea until February 17th. We can call after the 25th and – assuming the parts arrive - schedule a new appointment. Needless to say, we were very frustrated. After a few days, I made another call to the customer service department – at this point I had their number on speed dial. I again expressed my frustration about the entire situation and now we were having to wait again for parts that may or may not fix the problem. The customer service person agreed, saying the whole situation was handled poorly and agreed the best solution was a new fridge. We were finally authorized to get a new fridge and on February 9th, we were up and running.
I think it is safe to say, my wife and I will never purchase a Kenmore product again. Which is sad because we have always had Kenmore products in our homes. We will also never purchase from Sears and we will do all we can to prevent anyone we know from going through the hassle we have gone through. We have both expressed our displeasure through several social media sites and actually had quite a few people follow our daily updates. It has been a series of frustrating phone calls with no one ever being able to give an answer.
This is a situation that could have been resolved by simply taking the time to do things right the first time. In this case, they knew on our original call back on December 2nd, that there were several units with this same issue. They knew the fridge had a history of problems. They knew the parts were never going to arrive and they were simply going through their “process” of eliminating all possible scenarios before finally approving the new fridge. Seventy days later, the only thing they eliminated was a customer.
I know for every customer who has a bad experience, there are several who have had a positive experience, and it is usually a case by case situation. I look at companies like Med One, Shoetopia and jane.com – along with several others – who not only claim they care about their customers but, take measures to make sure the customer is taken care of. Med One may not be perfect, but we are trying to be perfect in our effort to improve and provide the highest level of customer service. It makes me sad that there are companies out there who simply don’t give as much concern or focus on creating loyal customers and rely on simply acquiring new customers. In my opinion, those are the companies who will soon find themselves on the short end of the stick.
I would be curious to know if you have recently had a positive or negative experience with a company that you would be willing to share for a follow up story on customer service. If so, please send your story to me via email – firstname.lastname@example.org.