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Customer Care Matters – Muff that and You Destroy Loyalty

This past week I experienced great customer service and lousy customer service. Both companies offered great innovative products. But one company stood by their name and followed up with outstanding customer care. The other? They completely missed the mark and lost brand equity with an otherwise satisfied customer.

Lexmark wants me as a long term customer and backs up their words

Let’s start with my positive customer experience. I chose to “hire” (a.k.a. buy) my Lexmark color laser printer over all the other competitors because I believed it was the best value out there to get my important job done of creating high quality printed documents.

All in all, I have been very happy with my printer since I bought about 5 years ago now. It’s done what it said it will do. It’s been reliable and simple to use.

About three months ago, the printer started to have print quality issues. It progressively got to the point where I knew I had to service it. But would the cost of servicing it be worth it versus just going out and buying a new one? Framed that way, the answer was no.

I wasn’t quite ready to throw in the towel. The printer was still relatively young and had a lot of useful life in it. Being technically capable, I decided to see if I could solve the problem. I had a pretty good idea what needed to be done, but I wanted to verify my solution would fix the problem because I was looking at replacement parts that would cost at least $100.

Now the question was – could I reach an informed person at Lexmark who could verify over the phone what I needed to do to fix my printer? Or would I be routed to automated voice mail hell running around in endless loops trying to reach a real person?

I am delighted to say I got to a technician quickly – only a few voice mail questions to narrow down my category. And when I reached the tech, she had a good understanding of her product and genuinely cared that we solved my problem.

She verified my assumption that I needed to replace black and color imaging system. And also explained to me that the imaging system was designed to automatically clean the printer. My print quality issues I described would be fixed if I replaced the imagining system.

Now here comes the big “wow” moment.

She said that she would send me the replacement parts. To which I immediately said
“Let’s wait till I investigate the cost to have it serviced.”

To which the technician responded –
“Sir, I will send you the parts for free.”

Free? Wow! If I tried to buy the parts from local distributors, I would be looking at least $100. And it still might not fix the problem – but free – this is amazing!

So of course I said yes, and within 3 business days the replacement parts with clear instructions were delivered to my office. Lexmark designed this printer to be easily serviced and the repair job took less than an hour to complete. They included free postage to ship the old parts back.

The printer is once again printing like a champ. The quality issues disappeared. Lexmark made it simple easy to continue to do business with them.

Am I likely to buy a Lexmark printer in the future when this one finally gives up the ghost?
In a heartbeat! Lexmark has won my loyalty for life. Unless they dramatically fall behind the competitors in offering innovative products, they are my first choice vendor for laser printers.

All because they cared about keeping me as a loyal customer. And they created a business model that made it worth it to them to do so.

Poor customer service in action

The story I will share is actually about my wife’s recent experience with Fry’s and her relatively new Lenovo convertible PC/Tablet. On the surface (no pun intended), the Lenovo is a good product. It seems to be a well-engineered product – expect for one huge problem – It’s hard drive crashed within 14 months of purchase. Totally kaput!

No problem my wife and I thought. She was smart and purchases a 3 year replacement maintenance contract Fry’s convinced her to buy just for these kinds of problems that unfortunately happen. Boy were we smart or what?

Not so fast bucko!

What should have been a straight forward two week (Fry’s did initially say five weeks which seemed crazy but whatever) repair or replacement turned out to be a disappointing three month journey in darkness only to be told by Fry’s:

“Sorry it took us so long to tell you we can’t fix your Lenovo – here’s a cheaper Dell laptop you can replace it with. Gee sorry it’s not the same product but your warranty only replaces the remaining value of your PC. Thanks for shopping a Fry’s.”

It’s really hard to say if the root cause of my dissatisfaction lies with Lenovo or Fry’s. Fry’s claims it was Lenovo who sat on the repair, but I’ll point the finger at Fry’s since they are the customer facing representative for Lenovo.

Overpromise & under deliver only if you want to lose customers

My real disappointment is that Fry’s overpromised and under delivered on its extended warranty. A Fry’s sales person admitted to me later that she too was told by management that the warranty covered the replacement of the product if it could not be repaired. And this is what she sold to her customers. The sales people were basically instructed to overpromise.

Will I ever shop at Fry’s again? Probably, but with an expectation of not expecting much in the terms of customer care. And will Fry’s be my first choice to my next PC or mobile device? Probably not, but I won’t rule them out if the product is relatively inexpensive, generic and lowest priced available.

But will I by an extended warranty from them? No way! Save my money and play the odds that the manufacturer’s warranty will be sufficient – and in most cases it is.

By the way – I bought my Lexmark at Fry’s – and I do enjoy going into that store as long as I can take care of myself that is.

Innovation without customer care is not sufficient to create customer loyalty

So there you have, when developing your product and market strategy for your next product rollout, remember, customer care matters.

Do what’s right to keep your hard earned customers happy. If you genuinely care for them, and you provide them solutions that gets their important jobs done better, faster, cheaper – and hassle free – they will stick with you. And for goodness sakes – communicate with them when they are having problems with your service!

Thank you Lexmark for a great product and great customer service. You have earned my loyalty.

Cheers!

Kevin

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