Two true stories about customer service (and a thank you to Seth Godin)

November 13, 2008

Car Troubles

We’d just returned from a trip to Montreal, and the car was making an alarming noise. If there’s something wrong with  a font, or the way text aligns in a table, I can fix it. If the car is misbehaving, I can’t. Down to the shop it went. You know the drill. Drop it off, wait anxiously for the phone call, get out your credit card.
The mechanic (whose name is Klever!) called. “Oh,” he said, “There’s a broken hose, so that will be $20.” Was there something wrong? Was there something he wasn’t telling me? I went in, paid just that, $20, and that was it.
Now he could have told me it s $120, and I would have paid. $165, yep, I would have paid. Now, for sure, I respect Klever for his honesty, and he has a customer for life.

Ordering Furniture from IKEA

I was asked to help order furniture for a reception area. Finally decided on a small truck-full of stuff from IKEA, couches, chairs and different kinds of tables. Everything came, we got a team to assemble everything, we threw away the packaging (you know where this is going, right!) and employees began to filter through, admiring this new room and how it looked. Glitch was the bosses wife. She hated it all.
Now began the saga of epic proportions. No packaging, no problem. IKEA told us to take off the legs, and that would suffice. The (third party) delivery company finally came, and said they had an order to only pick up two pieces. Then (but not in the same conversation) they said they couldn’t take anything unboxed. It went south quickly.
The good bit. When I called IKEA’s customer service, I got a wonderful person, Marlene. “Oh yes, I remember you — I set up the return ticket for you. What’s wrong?” Then later, “You hold on the line, don’t hang up! I’m going to call the delivery people and get this all worked out for you.” Marlene and I had a nice chat, and I told her she should get a raise! Nope, won’t happen, replied Marlene, but she told me if I send an e-mail or letter to IKEA, she would get some kind of gift card, or appreciation.
How cool is that? She made my day, I made hers, and an experience that was potentially (in fact it was) horrendous, ended up having an altogether different outcome.

The Seth Godin Bit

Now this is not really about graphic design, but it is about company design, and how what people do creates perceptions and images in the public’s mind. I recently read a posting by Seth Godin where he talked about how much it costs businesses to give good customer service vs. what they get in return.
When I ask people this question, they all start to think how much employee training costs. The return, of course, outweighs anything spent. The point is, it doesn’t matter if you’re directing a country from Buckingham Palace, or you’re dishing out curry in Bangladesh, the person who gives more, serves and listens more, and connects with the customer more, wins it all.  I’ve put this short presentation together, posted on Slideshare, and I’ve included it here. Thanks Seth, this is just a graphic reproduction of your musings, but something that completely resonated with me, and makes for a powerful presentation.