March 6, 2012

A First Hand Report Of Great Customer Service

By Paul Bieber

A couple of days before Valentine’s Day I went on line to and ordered bouquets for my wife, our daughter and my mother-in-law.  I have used this service often and never had a problem.  But, there is always a first time.

The roses were delivered, and they looked like leftovers from 1978.  They were dead-on-arrival.  My wife still loved them, after all it’s the thought that counts, and my mother-in-law really couldn’t tell the difference.

Last Wednesday I received a promotional email from ProFlowers reminding me of an upcoming birthday, and did I want to place the same order as last year?  I remembered the bad orders and called their customer service number.  I just wanted to say their grower let them down by shipping bad roses.  I know that most good companies like to hear about problems so they can be corrected.

The lady that answered the phone immediately thanked me for the information and promptly ordered two free replacement bouquets.  I explained that I wasn’t calling to get something free.  She said she understood that, but insisted that the new, fresh flowers be sent.  She wanted to include a new vase as well.  I talked her out of the vase, as the vases that came with the original flower orders were just fine.  This lady didn’t check with a supervisor or call me back.  She had the authority to resolve the problem and did so with such pleasantness that I will continue ordering flowers from them without ever thinking twice.

A very interesting story,  but what impact does this have on our glass industry?  If a customer calls with a complaint about a scratch on a shower door, we certainly are not going to order and install a new one with no questions asked.  Most of us are going to explain that small scratches are allowed under our specs and wish the customer good luck.

It comes down to how to prevent the situation in the first place, and then how you or your team handles the customer once the phone rings.

Inspect everything that comes in from your fabricator.  Most fabricators will give you 24 hours to call in a complaint.  After that, you own it.  I ran a fabricator for 20+ years, and that is a fair policy.  You can’t imagine how many calls we would get two weeks later saying the glass had a chip.  My best guess is that 99% of these late calls were problems created by the glass shop.  Most fabricators today ship with a clear vinyl protecting layer over shower doors.  You have no excuse for not inspecting.  It is your responsibility to prevent your customer from being unhappy.  Inspecting all incoming work is the key.  Yes, it takes a little time and effort.  Do it.  And do it under bright lights, or in daylight if you can.  If you can’t see the scratch now, but once you install the door you can, then kick your inspection team in the tail.

Look at IG before you put it in the frame.  It is harder to inspect IG or bulk tempered.  But you can look at each piece before you seal it in the opening.  If your installer thinks a piece won’t meet standards, have him call you and get advice.  It’s better to discuss this with the owner before setting than after, when they are in a complaining mood.

When a customer calls with a problem, jump on it right away.  Don’t let it sit on your desk.  It will just fester with the customer.  Go there within a day, show your concern, and your knowledge.  Carefully explain what acceptable standards are and why this piece is OK.  It helps to explain this up front, when you take the order.  Sure, it sounds like a negative when you are trying to close a sale, but it is better than not getting paid because of a small rub that is so hard to see you need a magnifying glass.

The best problem solver is to prevent it.  Yes, you can, with proper expectations from the customer and care and inspection by your team.

If you have an upset customer deal quickly with the situation.  Do it with a smile.  Do it like you want to retain the customer’s business forever, and then, you probably will!