My friend, Chip Bell, and John Patterson just released Wired and Dangerous (How your customers have changed and what to do about it). If customer service is important to you, I encourage you to read this book.
They do what most of the books fail to do — they look at the underlying reasons why customer service fails and succeeds. (Too often these books just focus on the poor schlub in the call center and miss the reasons why customer service is so bad.)
Recently I purchased a new horn. I play a valve trombone (an unusual instrument) and it’s hard to find one that plays like it should. People in some online chat rooms kept recommending Kanstul. I sent e-mails to two dealers who carried Kanstul horns with a couple of technical questions.
BTW, I was ready to buy. When I didn’t get a response to my e-mails, I called one of the dealers. If they could answer the questions and if they had one in stock I was ready to fly 750 miles to try it out — and then buy it on the spot. (You get the picture. I was the type of customer that salespeople salivate to get.)
Customer service asked, “How do you spell Kanstul?” I knew this was not going to be a good call. The rep pulled up the same page as I was looking at and said, “It looks like a really good horn.” Sorry, but you can’t tell a Stradivarius from a K-Mart violin based on a photo. I asked, “Do you have one in stock. I will fly out and try the horn.”
He said, “Sorry, but we are located across the US from the retailer and they don’t give us their phone number.” Really! They should have read Chip and John’s book.
I called the factory and talked to one of the head people. He answered my questions and then told me about a retailer that had customized their horn for a few people and had actually improved it. Wow. So I called Steve Ferguson at Horn Guys. (I had purchased a few smaller items from him over the years and liked him, although to this day I have never met him.) He told me about what he had done to the horn and offered to send me a prototype to try. I got it. Tried it. And ordered a horn. (It is a great horn, by the way.)