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Friday, July 15, 2011

Learning How To Become Strong Customers

11:07:00 AM Posted by Oscar Berg No comments

The waste valve in our bathtub at home is the step on type, which ratchets open and closed as you step on it. A few days ago, it suddenly got completely stuck. I had to remove it using a screwdriver. As the bathtub is only three years old, I didn't expect such a vital component of the bathtub to break. I believe no-one who buys a bathtub should expect that.

Instead of contacting the (online) reseller through which we bought the bathtub, I decided to contact the manufacturer directly. I found a “info@...” email address to their HQ on their web page and wrote to them in an email about the broken component. I didn't demand anything in my email, but I made three things clear:
  1. The quality of their product is not acceptable if it breaks after only three years
  2. As the quality of the product is far below what is reasonable to expect, I don't want to spend time and energy contacting a reseller who anyway would need to contact the manufacturer. 
  3. By contacting them directly and describing the problem with the product, they get direct feedback from a customer about their product that might help them improve it.
Two days after I sent my email (today) I received a package in the mail. My kids brought it to me and I opened it. It contained a replacement product for the waste vale together with a delivery note from which I could read that it was free of charge. The replacement product made of metal (brass) instead of cheap plastic like the old one.
My oldest daughter, who I had told about my email to the manufacturer, then said to me with a big smile on her face:

"It pays to complain. It always does when you complain about something."

"Well, not always”, I replied, “but it often does. Most companies are sane enough to listen to customers who come to them with rightful complaints or are dissatisfied with their products because they don’t meet their expectations. Smart, isn't it?"

"Yes!"

I believe it is lessons like this one that will teach my kids how to become strong customers.

Although I really appreciate the no fuzz strategy the company had when dealing with my complaint (sending a replacement product immediately at no charge) I still can’t stop thinking about what would have happened if they also had replied to my email. If someone at the company had replied and told me they were happy to receive my input and that they will send me a replacement immediately at no charge, then this story could have been a positive story about them – their brand, their products and their customer service – instead of being a story about how I hope my kids will learn how to become strong customers.

I will send them a link to this blog post in my thank you email.

(I would really like to know if they already knew about the problem, and had changed the material from plastic to brass to solve it)

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