Excellent customer service is rocket fuel for word-of-mouth marketing. It’s as true in the industrial marketing world as it is in the business to consumer marketplace. We all know this yet how many times do you hear stories about absolutely horrifying customer service? The short answer is too often. It seems that many businesses are staffed by people who have the authority to say no and just love to exercise that authority. Now isn’t it refreshing to hear stories about excellent customer service?
How about excellent customer service from a massive corporation?
I am a confirmed coffee addict and make no bones about it. In June of 2010 I was the lucky recipient of a Kuerig Coffee Maker for my Father’s Day gift. It was a great idea. This unit brews one cup at a time using those little single serve K-Cups. Best of all once you have run through the lot that came with the machine you can then use your regular canned coffee with an included basket and reduce the strain on the landfill sites.
I was thrilled to get this as a gift and for the first six months or so it dutifully chugged along making single cups of coffee and I was a happy boy. Once it had its seven month birthday it started really weirding out. Sometimes it would brew a full cup and sometimes a half cup. I went on the online forums to see how to fix it and was able to nurse it along until December of 2010 after which I stopped using it as it was annoying. It was time to break out the Bodum that had been banished to a cupboard and ignored for six months.
Being a busy fellow the Kuerig Coffee Maker gathered dust until April 19, 2011 when I finally became ambitious enough to attempt to return it. As I had cleverly lost the receipt there was no way I was expecting to get a refund from this giant corporation but I thought I might as well give it a try.
I carried the coffee maker in to the returns area at Costco and braced myself for the expected song and dance. A young lady greeted me and said, “Kuerig Coffee Maker. We are getting a lot of those returned.” I told her that mine was defective, over a year old, and that I did not have my receipt. She asked me if I had my Costco Card and I handed it to here. She then said, “I’ll run your Costco Card through to check out your purchase date.” My heart sunk because it the coffee maker was well over a year old. What I heard next totally floored me, she then said “OK. You purchased this with a debit card. If you give me your debit card I will give you a full $170 refund.”
After I gained my composure (and my refund) I thanked her very much and walked out to my car thinking how they turned me into a fan and a customer for life. It all seemed so easy and yet so few companies make it that way. This was a great example of turning a customer with a problem into a delighted long-term customer by offering outstanding customer service.
What policy do you have for customers with problems? Do you view them as problem customers? Do you view them as opportunities with great potential?
As hackneyed as it sounds, outstanding customer service pays.