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Monday, August 15, 2011

Customer Service Reality Check: Best Quality or Not?

Customer Service Reality Check: Best Quality or Not?
How do you define "Best Quality Customer Service"? It's a question that Nufloors' Cynthia Dean and I explored recently in response to a letter she had received from a supplier. We'd love your reactions to this 'customer service reality check'.

Here's the letter. For the sake of discussion, I've removed mention of the supplier in question.
In order to assist in improving inventory efficiencies & "The Best Quality Customer Service" we will be embarking on the following "shipping policies" effective July 5, 2011.
1. All order placed require a delivery or pick up date. Without a firm required date, stock can only be held for 24 hours. Any changes to the "required date" must be communicated to a --- Customer Service Representative.
2. If no date is given then the "Arrival Date" at the local --- branch will become the date required.
3. All orders must be either shipped or picked up on the "required date" given at the time of order placement. Below exceptions are subject to management approval only.
  • 45 days on all New Housing orders from above noted Customer Required Date.
  • 45 days on all Commercial products from above noted Customer Required Date.
  • Your --- sales representative will be working closely on all large on-going projects and/or draw orders to estimate the timing of inventory requirements over the life of the project. We may request multiple purchase orders that match the estimated draw of inventory.
4. Non-stock material must be taken as ordered. We are unable to accept returns and all inventories must be either picked up or shipped within the periods stated above.
Failure to do so will result in the inventory being shipped and invoiced.
5. An order confirmation will be sent confirming the details of all orders/order changes - if a special quotation was given please note the "Quote #" or "Quote Details" at time of order.
6. All promotional, convention, discontinued, remnants or non-stock materials will be shipped upon arrival.
We appreciate your understanding of the above and will continue to look for ways to provide "The Best Quality Service" you, our customers, deserve.

Cynthia included the following message when she forwarded this momentous memo:

Hello Christine:

 I am sending you the attached as an example of what not to do.

This is a letter we received from one of our suppliers this week.

Under the guise of ‘The Best Quality Customer Service’, they have implemented a long list of rules that we the customer now have to abide by ‘or else’.

Lynn, our person who does product ordering asks the question ‘How come whenever the suppliers are making us do even more work to make their lives easier, they call it ‘Improving Customer Service’.

I thought you would find this amusing (and maybe even a bit sad). The flooring industry is so far behind the times it is staggering.


Cynthia and I discussed the letter - she and I have been brainstorming around Surfaces 2012 presentation ideas - and came up with so many different and better approaches to implement and communicate messages such as this. Imagine the opportunity to strengthen your customer relationships if you asked them questions about how they process your products, what work is involved, what services provided they value most... Imagine not antagonizing your customer with a description of "best quality customer service" when you deliver the exact opposite...

Enough from me, what is your take on this letter? How would you react? If you had to send out a similar communication, what would you do differently? How would you turn this message from bad medicine to truly best quality customer service?

Let me know in the comments.

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Reminder: Please, no self-promotional or SPAM comments. Don't bother if you're simply trying to build inauthentic link juice. Finally, don't be anonymous: it's too hard to have a conversation. Thanks, CB

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