Shredding the obvious

shredding Isn’t it infuriating when things you come to rely on to work perfectly – even (or perhaps especially) when you only use them occasionally – suddenly don’t? I had one of those experiences with my (fairly new) shredder recently. It worked perfectly last time I used it. This time – no sign of life whatsoever. With anything electrical, there are a few things I always try first. A different socket? Nothing. Change the fuse in the plug? Still nothing. See if it’s just having an off day and will feel better tomorrow? No different next day. Painstakingly fish out from between the sharp blades as much of the old shreddings as I can, in case it’s just a jam? No good. At that point I hunted around until I found the user instructions. They didn’t seem to have a trouble-shooting section. Perhaps it was time to look at the guarantee, so I went to the website looking for details. Nothing much helped, but I did find a ‘contact us’ button, so as it was a weekend I wrote an email explaining the situation. Much to my surprise, I got a phone call on the Monday morning from a lady saying she was from Fellowes and she believed I had a problem with my shredder? She took me through a fault-diagnosis process, tailored to my shredder model, and including the sorts of things users do uninstructed (like putting a plastic bag in the bin to collect shreddings). In less than five minutes the problem was solved.

Great customer service

What a great customer service experience! I finished up being a very satisfied customer with a working shredder. It felt a more positive experience than I would have had if I had identified the problem myself from the instructions. There were minimal delays and no one had any costs of shipping the unit anywhere. The cost to the company must have been minimal. In fact it was a very economical bit of promotion. Providing written fault-finding might seem the obvious thing to do. In fact, even if it had worked it would have been a missed opportunity. It pays to think beyond the obvious! This article was first published at www.otteryconsulting.co.uk.

Customer Service – A Cheesy Tale

Near where I live, there is a wonderful cheese shop. It sells an amazing selection of English artisanal cheeses, as well as a variety of other delicious local produce. Not surprisingly, it is my place of choice for cheese for Christmas. It's just a pity that the customer service is not up to the standard of the cheese. I placed my order in good time, for collection on 23 December. I duly arrived at the shop, full of anticipation, on my way home from work. The table outside groaned with goodies including beautifully-decorated cakes, rustic breads and colourful preserves. The shop is fairly simple inside, but filled with the wonderful aroma from the cheeses and from the delicious food being served in their upstairs café. There seemed only to be one young lady serving, and she looked a bit stressed by the queue of customers; cutting, weighing and wrapping cheeses is a slow process. Still, I assumed serving me would be easy – all that should have been done already. She looked in the fridges under the cool counter; not there. She looked in another fridge; no better. Looking more stressed, she told me that she was very sorry, she couldn’t find my order; “Would you mind going away and coming back later?” Bad move. “Yes, actually, I would. I’m on my way home from work, I've had a busy day, and I don’t want to hang around. That’s why I placed an order.” Another hunt still produced nothing. A small lady with shoulder-length reddish hair came in – the manager. We found where my order had been written in the book, just as I had said. “Well, if you can wait, we can make up some of your order again, but I’m afraid we have none of the Tamworth left. We are completely sold out of soft cheeses.” I grumpily agreed that they had better do that, meanwhile starting to wonder where I would be able to find a good soft cheese on Christmas Eve. Then she showed me a small cheese –under 100g I would say – and said “we have one of these left. They are absolutely delicious – unfortunately I can’t give you a taste as it is the last one. They are £6.” … So that is about £60 / kg? Are you serious? No thanks. After that, the manager lost interest. The assistant worked out the total price, and only then said “we’ll give you 10% off for the inconvenience”. I paid, and walked out with my cheese, about 20 minutes later than I had expected and in a thoroughly bad temper. So what did I learn from these unhappy events? Observing my own feelings, first, that the longer the problem lasts, the more it takes to put it right. And second, that if you don’t do enough, you might as well do nothing.

Good customer service

The first rule of customer service is “keep your promises”. And since things will sometimes go wrong, the second rule is “When you can’t keep your promises, try to solve the problem you have caused as quickly as you can”. If the assistant had said at the start something like, “I’m really sorry, I’ll make the order up as quickly as I can. You can have a free coffee upstairs while you are waiting. What can I offer you instead of the Tamworth?” – suggesting solutions to my problems – I would probably have been satisfied, and would actually have spent more. By the time the manager showed me the expensive cheese, she needed to have given it to me, not offered to sell it to me, to compensate. And by the end, a 10% discount not only did not solve my problem but felt like adding insult to injury. A customer problem is an opportunity for free good – or bad – publicity. The choice of which is yours. [contact-form][contact-field label='Name' type='name' required='1'/][contact-field label='Email' type='email' required='1'/][contact-field label='Website' type='url'/][contact-field label='Comment' type='textarea' required='1'/][/contact-form]