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Old 11-04-2012, 05:16   #1
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The value of customer service

Years ago, I decided to take up golf again, so I dug out the Ping set that I had bought new some 15 year earlier. I sent them back to manufacturer to have them regripped with ping grips and they called back and said I had a problem...all the shafts were bent and needed to be replaced. I asked what that would cost and with no hesitation, he replied "Oh no charge...what size grips do you need...there will be no charge for that either". That act has made me a customer for life.

I have a Perkins Prima M60 engine in my boat that has been out of production by Perkins since 1996. Yesterday, I called their support number and talked to Wendell Robinett. They dug into the build records for my engine and found the answers I needed in short order. They went out of their way and never asked for anything in return other than have a nice day. When I go to buy a new engine I will consider other engines but they will have a mountain to climb to break my loyalty to Perkins.

Customer service rules, no matter what the product. It might be worth while for everyone to jump in and tell their story (good or bad). Good companies will read these comment and act on them...bad companies will bet on the fact that there is another sucker coming down the river as we speak.

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Old 11-04-2012, 05:33   #2
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Re: The value of customer service

Okay, not related to boats, but here's an experience I had about 20 years ago that turned on a bulb for me as far as customer service...

I had a 4-wheel-drive pickup truck and decided that I wanted fancy wheels and tires for it. Went into a Western Auto, went back to the wheel/tire counter and told the guy what I wanted. He said "Those wheels are special order items and the guy who handles that is out today. You have to come back on Monday and then he'll be able to take care of you."

As I was walking out of the store I thought to myself, I HAVE TO come back on Monday!?!

So I went down the street a ways to a Pep Boys. Went back to the wheel/tire counter and told the guy what I wanted. He said "Those wheels are special order items and the guy who handles that is out today. If you'd like to give me your phone number, I will have him call you on Monday and then he'll be able to take care of you."

Needless to say, I bought my wheels and tires (about a $1,000 purchase) from Pep Boys, and never went to Western Auto again. Western Auto, by the way, went out of business within a couple of years after that.

The interesting thing to me was that it was exactly the same situation at both stores--special order, and the guy who does that wasn't around. At Western Auto they told me what I had to do in order to do business with them. At Pep Boys they told me what they were going to do in order to do business with me.

In actual terms, the difference was very small. In customer service terms, though, the difference was night and day.

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Old 11-04-2012, 07:10   #3
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Boat: '76 Allied Seawind II, 32'
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Re: The value of customer service

Cap horn windvanes has gone above and beyond. I purchased a cap horn from another owner of an Allied seawind II that had purchased it new but never installed it. I installed the vane on my boat, and sailed with it from texas to guatemala. I was never satisfied with the power generated by the oar to turn my admittedly heavy helm, and Yves sent a new longer oar for me to try with the understanding I would ship back the original when I returned to the boat in mexico in a few months. Amazing support for a non original purchaser!!
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Old 11-04-2012, 07:38   #4
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Re: The value of customer service

I'm always completely amazed at how many people try to run a business without understanding the value of customer service. I'll freely admit to having been spoiled by Amazon, but that is the bar and if you cannot match it you have no business trying to sell stuff on the internet. I can find almost anything on Amazon, cheaper than local (and I have an app that pops up when it's not!), and for a Prime membership (around $80 a year, and lots of offers for a free year) I can have thousands of items on my doorstep in 48 hours for no additional cost! Welcome to the future!

I needed a small part a couple weeks ago, found one at Anchor Express online, and added about $300 worth of other junk I'd needed to the order. About a week (!) later I get a package with everything but the thing I needed. I call them up (to their credit, a person who was able to make things happen answered the phone) to ask WTF, and they tell me it's on backorder and will be in after a couple weeks, then acted all surprised when I cancelled the order!

I've been trying to contact Garhauer about a boomvang for 3 weeks now. I suppose I'll keep trying because they're the only place to buy a highly-recommended product. If anyone's looking for a business opportunity, you might consider selling Garhauer boomvangs and - ya know - responding to customer inquiries.

Can't quite bring yourself to terrible customer service, but wish I'd stop sending you my money, and tell all my friends and everyone on the Internet to do the same? Send me lots of spam, and perhaps sell my email to some list so they can send me some spam too. (Protip: If you use gmail, it ignores everything after a plus symbol, so if you contact companies as you can tell exactly to whom SailNet has sold your information!)

On the flip side, my local West Marine: I haven't paid retail for anything in a long time, and I know I'm going to be treated like a person. I'm not sure where they got the "yotty" reputation, but if my store is typical you owe it to yourself to go talk to them.
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