Quality Still Matters, but Customer Service Matters More

I’ve had two kitchen appliances under warranty break in the past few months. These were products from different manufacturers, and each handled the problem in a completely different way. we can use this as a lamp to spotlight customer service of both companies.

Our microwave oven gets a lot of use, and some abuse, with three teens in the house. That’s why we bought a top-of-the-line microwave. I didn’t want problems. When it suddenly stopped working I knew the problem was a blown fuse, but the fuse was located internally and opening the cover would void the warranty. It needed service.

Our blender gets a lot of use also. We bought a fairly expensive blender because the family likes to have a fruit smoothie for breakfast, and smashing ice cubes daily is unhealthy for a low-end blender. We bought one specifically advertised for making smoothies. When it broke, it was clear something internal was preventing the blades from acquiring any torque, but I was unable to open the cover without voiding the warranty. It needed service.

The microwave manufacturer sent a technician to the house and fixed the unit for free. There was a three day wait for the first opening, but two of those were over a weekend. The technician fixed it in 20 minutes, and even left me the information on what kind of fuse to use the next time it breaks–after the warranty expires. We were back up and running within a half week if the incident.

Contrast that with the blender manufacturer, who made me pay to ship the unit to a facility that happens to be across town. They also insisted on a $10 fee to pay to ship the unit back to me. Total service time-six weeks. When the unit was finally returned, it still didn’t work. I called to inquire and learned that the technician did absolutely nothing with it because “there was nothing wrong with it.” This, despite the fact that I can stop the blade gear from spinning with minimal force from one finger, and a single piece of ice locks up the blade.

When I asked why it won’t crush ice when there is “nothing wrong with it.” I was told I could ship it back, at my own expense, to have it looked at again.

Which company do you think will get my business in the future?

Every company has an occasional quality issue. That’s simply part of reality, and customers know this.

Correcting a mistake and apologizing for the inconvenience, like the manufacturer of my microwave did, goes a long way toward influencing the customer to recommend the product to other people, and toward gaining repeat business. That is good customer service.

Making the customer jump through hoops and pay for the privilege of warranty service is an abhorrent practice. Bad news travels faster than good news. It’s called making the customer pay for the cost of poor quality. Poor quality costs a lot more than shipping and handling. The price is the permanent loss of repeat business, the business my soon-to-be-adult teens would have generated, as well as the loss of the future business from the people I warn when they ask me to recommend a blender.

Be the microwave manufacturer. Try not to make mistakes, but when you do make one, apologize and work hard to make things right for the customer. After all, which experience I described would you rather have as a customer?
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