In the spectrum of customer service quality, I’ve already repeatedly pointed out Red Letter Days fell off the bottom end of the scale. They treated staff like hell, who then treated customers the same way, and while it backfired on the original owner, Rachel Elnaugh, the company is unbelievably still trading without honouring the older vouchers many customers are still holding.
But who’s at the other end of that scale? Who provides customer service so good that you’re taken by surprise by the swiftness of response and the willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty to help you? After many years feeling jaded by so many “Your call is important to us” recordings, what are the companies that surprise you by being particularly helpful?
I can think of two: John Lewis and Audi, and I’ll tell you why…
First, in January, we had a new TV delivered, to replace the antique we had. We ordered it from John Lewis because they’re reknown for their 5-yr hassle-free warranty. It was already on sale with approx 30% off what a friend had paid just before Xmas (sucker!) so we ordered it, to be received the second week of January. Unfortunately, it didn’t arrive the day it was meant to “because the guys forgot to load it onto the lorry”. The next morning, before 9am, it was delivered by express courier with apologies from John Lewis.
Already, the apologies from the distribution manager sounded genuine and we were pleased to know they’d done everything in their power to deliver it immediately the next day at their own costs. But on top of that, the manager encouraged us to call back and organise for a voucher to be sent to us for our hassles. So quick call to JL, answered instantly by a cheery employee, explained the situation, and what do I know – The next morning £50 is credited to our account, to make up for the hassle of having to wait half a day longer!
So not only were they understanding and honest with the reasons behind delivery problems, they went out of their way to be sure we’d be happy with it.
More recently, Andrew had a couple of bad lucks where the coil packs (whatever those are…) resulted in having to take the car back to the Audi dealership to have them fixed. Two lost mornings of work and a couple of hundred pounds later, he was a bit bummed out by the unreliability of the car. A friend recommended calling Audi to find out whether there had been a recall or whether it was a documented problem.
When he spoke to Audi, he found out that while it hadn’t been recalled on his particular car model, it had been on other models. The kind staff at Audi offered to give us vouchers for £95 towards our next service, without any hassle or questions.
This, to me, shows that these companies have understood the long-term value of a loyal and happy customer versus the immediate cash-in. The company only looking at today’s bottom-line will send you away or ignore your problems with the product, telling you it’s your problem now that you own it. Meanwhile, companies like Audi and John Lewis have given their staff the flexibility to make it up to loyal customers when there are problems. Would you rather haggle over a few pounds, or know that you’ll make a sale worth a whole lot more in a few years? Depends which basket you’re putting your eggs in!
It’s only a voucher, the company has still made a comfortable profit from the sale, yet it has the ability to leave customers with a positive impression, even if things didn’t do completely without a hitch.