September 26, 2007.
Do you ever have those days where you are positive that everyone is against you? You know someone has a voo-doo doll and they are totally poking you? Well, I KNOW those days (um, yesterday.....today.......) But, let's back-track to last Thursday......you know I was kind of (okay totally) complaining and rallying the troops about what we can do about copy-cat artists, designers,blah, blah blah blah. That very day, this magazine shows up; Fortune Small Business, "Extreme Customer Service". Hmmm, I think the universe is totally on my side......
The cover story basically talks about what it takes to win on service. Customers (we know this) want to be dealt with, they want to know they are important and they want their problems taken care of - in a speedy manner.
Last post, I mentioned I was going to step it up a bit, promise to deliver (uh, what I had already been doing....but still). The small companies featured in the article had some very creative ways of dealing with, and exceeding in Customer Service:
- Simply Soles was started by Kassie Rempel, due to poor service she encountered on line. She started simplyshoes.com, an on line women's shoe emporium for high-end women shoes. The company will send samples to a customer, no cost, to try on shoes - and the customer only gets charged for shoes purchased. Since European sizes and American sizes do not always match up - it gives the customer the opportunity to sample the shoes.
- Threadless.com gets feedback from it's customer base - on every t-shirt design. It uses its website and various company sponsored blogs of underground t-shirt design contests to gather information on the best design to reproduce. Sometimes a t-shirt that has a "hate-it" response will provoke more controversy.......this mean sales.
- A gym based in Michigan sends our various newsletters and tracks responses. He gathers email addresses and if someone stops coming to the gym he sends gentle reminders, consisting of phone calls, emails and letters. Emailing an article about "a marathon" was all it took for a (this is what they called him) laggard, (their terms NOT mine) to start training again. A little encouragement has been found to get people back into the gym.
The back lash on America made products, or created in the U.S.A is very evident these days. Being a parent I get what it means to save a few bucks for that gift. However, it seems that some small companies are doing all that it takes to win the deal and keep the customer.
We have had the great fortune to work with an amazing company, The Warm Biscuit Bedding Company for the past three years. They have helped me understand how important customer service is. When a mistake is made - they fix it. If it is my product, they contact me, and see how fast I can get it out and they apologize. I swear, it sound so simple, but most companies do not do either. Make it right - fix it , that is all the customer wants, and The Warm Biscuit Bedding Company gets it!
Yesterday I got to take our Customer Service to the test. A customer, who had purchased a Birth Certificate 3 months ago, (we turn our products around in 2 to 3 weeks) from one of our sales channels called to complain. She had called (the re-seller) to get tracking information, she emailed to find out if the order had shipped......she even went as far as finding out the store next door and making them walk over and track her sale. She got no response. She got no confirmation. But, oh ya she DID get charged for the product, and the shipping. Well, she found us on line and called as a last ditch effort to get some information on her purchase (it was for her brother's first born).
I spoke with her on the phone, listened to her story. We never got the order, in fact we had continuously tried to contact this vendor for listing us incorrectly (Jamie's Printing & Design....um, close!). Bottom line, is it was not my problem I never got the order, THEY took her money, not me.
However, my product was what she wanted to order - I did NOT want her to have a bad impression of Jamie's Painting & Design. I took her information, I took the order, I took the shipping information - I personally made the tile. We are shipping it Friday - at NO charge to her. I figure she has been through enough. I am sending it at no charge (did I mention that? It is very late...). She was ecstatic - what more could I ask for?
I am not puffing my chest out and pounding it........my chest is not big enough, and I am too tired for physical labor at this point. I want her to have a good impression and experience with my company.
And, yes, I AM dropping this sales channel..........immediately. I do not want to be associated with a company, no matter what the excuses are - for not handling Customer Service like we do. We make sure the customer is happy - we make sure that we make it right. And my gosh, we call or email back.......come on people!