Working for an organization that prides itself on an ability to bring unique and actionable insights to our own growing list of business-to-business clients, I’m very attuned to my own interactions with other service providers and my customer experience.
For a long time I’ve done what most people with work laptops do – type using the built-in keyboard, control pointer movements using the built-in trackpad, and view all my PDFs, data, and email through a 15-inch laptop screen. After one long day of dried eyes and cramped wrists, I decided to buy a full keyboard/mouse combo along with an external monitor to make my restricted laptop setup a more ergonomic desktop station.
After sifting through countless online product reviews, I headed down to my local big-name office supply superstore and purchased the perfect monitor and keyboard/mouse combo. I breathed a sigh of relief after I set up my new station – no more palms hitting the trackpad causing the window to switch mid-type and a fantastic LED monitor with 24 inches of wonderful screen real estate with which to view more raw customer data (I know what you’re thinking, and yes, that is actually exciting to me)!
But over the course of a few weeks, I began to notice that the corners of my monitor screen were becoming much whiter. And, after some online research, it seemed that I was experiencing the results of a rare manufacturer defect.
I immediately went to the online customer support page and filled out a request for a new monitor. I was secretly dreading this part. I think all of us have had an experience returning a defective product where the process went horribly wrong – extreme waiting periods, long times spent on hold with support hotlines, and requests for more “evidence” that the product is defective are all not out of the ordinary in the electronics industry.
Luckily, this manufacturer had the process down to a pleasant science. The support page was very well laid out, allowing me to find the exact link I needed to fill out a request for a replacement monitor. There were no overly burdensome requests for evidence of the defect, no confusing warranty instructions, and no attempts to obfuscate the details of the process.
I was immediately sent a new monitor. They also requested I send the defective monitor to their closest facility, and provided the location of a local shipping store that would take care of everything for me, including boxing the defective monitor if I had already thrown all the package materials away (luckily for me, in this case). They even apologized to me over email for the time required to bring the monitor to the store!
What’s really surprising is I only filled out a request to return or repair a defective monitor through their website. I didn’t call to complain to a CSR, send a stern email, or any of the other things we are tempted to do. As far as I could tell, this was standard operating procedure for the company.
In the end, the new monitor was delivered within a few days. I filled out the follow-up customer satisfaction survey they sent a week or so later (I’ll admit, I gushed a bit in the open-ended feedback questions). The experience really took the frustration out of a potentially bad situation. And, to this day, it was one of the best experiences I’ve had dealing with the return of a defective product. I’m now considering purchasing other products from this particular manufacturer in the near future.
The moral of the story is obvious; provide an excellent customer experience in a particularly frustrating situation and the chances of earning a loyal customer, who was once quite a neutral one, increases substantially. This thinking seems to be permeating among more B2B organizations. But as I sit here doing a quick review of my story on my perfectly-working monitor, I can’t help but think that many organizations still have a long way to go.