The talk of the hour in retail and any other business model that deals with customer service (and what kind of business doesn’t, really?), is all about improving the customer experience. Why is this such a hot topic today? We think the rapid expansion and improvement of technology has made consumers more discerning. They expect more and they aren’t afraid to demand it. Social media and mobile technologies have empowered them to show their love and hatred for brands equally and publicly.
Below we have two real-life customers (and WBR employees) talking about how a great customer experience left a lasting impression on them and forever influenced their relationships with brands to whom they are now loyal. We’d love to hear your memorable customer experiences – good or bad – in the comments portion below!
Sprint’s Last Minute LifeSaver
By Amol Tembe (Blackberry Buster)
Sprint’s actions this weekend have made me a customer for life!
I was, am and always will be a late adopter of technology.
I was one of the last to get a mobile phone (or cell phone as they were more commonly called in 2000). But in November of 2000, I got the top of the line phone: The Motorola Talkabout. I got it at Sprint. I chose Sprint rather unscientifically. My brother had it, so I went with them.
The company’s customer service used to be terrible – they were often flagged as having terrible service. But all that changed about 24 months ago, when I added a second line. But Sprint’s ability to go above and beyond for a long-time customer was demonstrated this past weekend, and here’s the story:
In 10 years, I’ve had five phones, including my Blackberry Bold.
This Thanksgiving, the phone got crushed. I don’t know how, but it was as if someone ran over it…well almost. It happened on Friday. So I chalked it up to bad luck and said, ‘Hey, what can you do? I’ll have to buy a new one.’
Of course I don’t take the insurance. I’ve never actually broken a phone and for $5 per month for 10 years that’s $600!
I walked into a Sprint store first thing Saturday, thinking that I really needed a phone for my trip to our Defense Logistics conference. I would have to escort three and four star generals into the conference – I would need a phone!
When he saw my phone, the rep said, “Oh man, that’s bad. If I sell you one, I have to charge you the full price of $450.”
Amol: Full price? You can’t give me a break on the mail in rebate? I realize I don’t have the insurance, but don’t punish me for that. I’m not asking for a free phone!
Rep: I can’t do it. Maybe I can fix it. If you leave it for a week.
Amol: Well, I’m not from around here (I was in Boston). I can’t really leave it.
Rep: Call up Sprint, they might be able to do something for you.
Amol: Maybe I’ll just buy it. What is Sprint going to really do? I broke it, it’s my fault, and I don’t have any insurance.
So I go home, and call Sprint, and they say they’ll replace the phone for, get this…$35! But the problem is, it might take seven business days. “Ok,” I thought. “I can wait for that. They just saved me $415.”
I called on Monday before my train to DC, just to make sure the ticket had been submitted, and the rep said, “Sir, your phone appears to be out for delivery. You’ll probably get it tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow?” I said. “That’s great! I’m travelling but still, at least I know I’ll have it when I get home on Friday.”
“Is there any reason why you wouldn’t give me 5’s across the board for service today?” he asked.
This is something every rep had asked me, and I said the same thing each time. I think it’s a very powerful tool in service delivery: finding out right then if anything is not up to par, and then taking the opportunity to correct it right there. At first, I thought it was an odd ploy, but after hearing it the second time, I really appreciated it. That opened up a dialogue between me and all three reps that never would have occurred.
“No,” I replied. “I’d be delighted to tell you that everyone I’ve spoken to in this instance has been nothing but great. Your service over the past 24 months has dramatically improved, and I can’t wait to take the survey. Thanks and I hope you had a nice holiday.”
“Thank you for choosing Sprint,” he said.
At this point there were 30 minutes to go until I left for my train on Monday morning, when I heard a knock at the door.
“That’s odd,” I thought. I don’t get visitors. When I opened the door, it was UPS…with my phone.
This had to be my lucky day. I started fiddling around with it, and I had to call customer service again. The prospect of having a working phone was almost enough to make me cancel my trip to D.C!
Again, the reps were great, walking me through every step to get it up and running. I got into the cab stunned at the level of service; the ability to go above and beyond when I was technically not entitled to it.
As a marketer myself, my only criticism of the experience was that they could have said, “Sir, we don’t normally do this, but because you’ve been a customer since 2000…”
But regardless – Sprint’s actions this weekend have made me a customer for life!
A Trip Down Memory Lane with Volkswagen
By Kristin Paulick (Nostalgia Junkie)
A brand I personally admire for its great attention to customer experience (and its pretty catchy commercials too) is Volkswagen.
When I graduated from college, I set out to buy a new car with my father. We spent a week or two looking online and visiting dealerships until we found a pre-owned Jetta online that we thought would be a great option for me. My father was familiar with the dealership as he had purchased two Jettas there himself in the ‘80s. He set up an appointment for us to look at the car and take it for a test drive. Already I was excited by the prosepect.
I so distinctly remember that particular evening. The car salesman brought us back into his office where he had pulled out the records for my father’s two cars from 1986 and 1989. We laughed over the specifications for each Jetta…and the cost!
The small act probably took only a couple minutes for the salesman. How hard could it be to pull up a few old purchase records? But it really showed my father and me that he was thinking with us in mind and wanted to make our experience memorable.
After little debate, we decided to buy the car right then and there.
A couple of days later when I went to pick up the Jetta, I was surprised again when the salesman handed me a CD mix he had made for my first drive in my new car. As I was getting ready to drive off, he told me about some of the songs he had selected. What a unique and adorable idea, I thought. I have never forgotten it and doubt I ever will.
It proved to me small efforts can really surprise and delight a customer and ensure loyalty for years to come. I live in New York City now so a car isn’t always ideal, but when I am on the market for another, I can promise that Volkswagen will be the first place I’ll look.