A Customer Service Surprise

Just a few years ago, there were many companies that took great pride in their customer service. They boasted about how helpful they were if you owned or used their product or service, and how you were just a phone call away from a solution. But times sure have changed. So much so that now consumers and customers are actually SHOCKED when they receive competent or (rarely) exceptional customer service.

So last weekend, when one of my most prized possessions had an unexpected failure, I was just as upset about it breaking as I was about the ensuing headache trying to get it fixed. My beautiful 40-inch Sony Bravia HDTV magically developed a 3-inch wavy black bar at the bottom of the screen during an intense game of Tiger Woods ’09 golf on Wii (no, I didn’t throw the controller into the TV like in that commercial). We turned the TV off, turned it back on, unplugged everything, plugged it back in, and it was still broken.

The TV is less than a year old, so we hoped it was still under warranty. We found a convenient online chat room via the Sony website where I could talk directly to a technician — on a Saturday afternoon, no less. He was unable to fix the problem, so he directed me to a site where I could arrange for repairs, which I assumed would leave me TV-less for weeks (and right at the beginning of football season). But as it turns out, Sony makes it convenient, even with something as large and fragile as a flat-screen TV.

Simply fax them a receipt from purchase (which Best Buy conveniently keeps on file, fortunately), and they will ship you a new refurbished television within days, without ever seeing your broken one. Included in that shipment is a pre-paid packing slip to send the broken one back. Understandably, they took my credit card number so they could charge me if I tried to keep the old one (or if they discover the damage was my fault), but I couldn’t believe how convenient it was.

And while we tried to find the receipt on Tuesday, I even received a phone call from a nice woman at Sony named Nicole who was just making sure I was happy with my customer service and asking if she could be of any assistance. So while I was disappointed in the early and untimely demise of my new TV, I was thrilled with Sony’s customer service. And that fact alone will steer me toward Sony products in the future, something that many, many other companies seem to ignore these days.

Customer service is definitely not something we ignore here at DDA. We have three dry-erase boards downstairs filled with names of our clients, even ones we haven’t worked with in a long time. It’s not just to show off our programming, graphic design, copywriting, video, or search engine optimization capabilities, but to remind us every time we walk past it just how important each of them is. Every time we’re working on a  project with a client, we always keep in mind that the client will likely have projects that come along in the future, and that those clients talk about their experiences with us to friends and colleagues. Studies have shown that someone will tell three people about a product or service he or she liked, but tell 11 people about one he or she didn’t like. So if you leave a bad impression on someone with poor customer service, you may lose 11 possible leads. But aside from this blog, I have already told at least three or four people about my positive experience with Sony.

So at DDA, we may say a project is “finished” and take it off our task lists, but we are always available to our clients long after the project is completed.

For me, I’ll just be crossing my fingers that my new TV arrives in time for Sunday’s Eagles game. Hopefully UPS’s customer service is just as impressive.