This has been a bad year for us especially in the area of some of the purchases that we have made.
We are careful shoppers; we investigate before we spend our hard-earned money on almost everything. We use the principle of “buying the best you can with the resources you have at the time”. Yet, some of the bigger purchases we have made, we have needed to return because of manufacturing faults, part failures or damage, and these products returned were what would have been considered quality products. They have ranged from suits and shirts to cameras.
For the most part these goods have been replaced or repaired smoothly and quickly, with the exception of my camera that I am still waiting to be fixed under warranty 45 days later.
The main issues I have, is that these returned goods have all been items where there is an expectation of high quality and durability. It is a complete waste of my time to take a faulty/damaged product back to be fixed or replaced by a supplier. In the case of the camera there have been so many photo opportunities missed that can never happen again.
Great brands can be tarnished by poor quality products and poor after sales support.
Will I buy another product from a manufacturer who has supplied a faulty product?
Will I buy a product from a store that treats me, the customer, as the problem?
Now don’t get me wrong, the customer is NOT always right, but if the customer has used a product for a while and knows how something behaves normally, when something does go wrong the expert is the customer not the retailer or the manufacture, or at least they should be made to feel like that. To be told by the manufacturer the item is acting normally when you know it isn’t, demeans the customer, causing the trust in the entire brand and the retail outlet to be lost.
If the customer has a problem, you as a retailer/manufacturer have a problem, so listen to them carefully.
I understand that it is difficult to make sure that every product is perfect in every way, but if something does go wrong it should be rectified quickly. If retail/manufacturer staff attitude towards the customer is poor, blaming or just downright rude, it may be time to consider retraining the staff or closing the doors on your business as word of mouth reviews travel quickly, this is especially so in the age of social media.
Customer service is not just about “selling” it is about an ongoing relationship with your customer. Great after-sale service can make a bad experience a positive one for both the customer and the manufacturer. The solution all comes down to the attitude of the staff dealing with the customer directly and the manufacturer providing technical support.
There is no substitute or shortcuts to the following…
- Great products that people want (not what you want to sell them)
- Great quality control and quality assurance
- Qualified customer support team (knowledgeable, understanding and approachable)
- Great after-sales service and support
Get these simple steps right and you are well on your way to having happy customers.
The best action to take is to get quality right first time, check and check again before an item goes out the front door and if something does go wrong fix or replace it quickly.
Article also published on idealog
by Paul S Allen
I have often heard from leaders the saying “It’s better (easier) to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission”. This may be so, but it does not ever justify the actions of those asking – it merely “fixes” a problem.
To me this is laziness, ignorance or incompetence on behalf of the leader, whether that leader is in government, private sector or community organisation.
There has been debate recently about a certain piece of legislation, the Video Camera Surveillance (Temporary Measures) Bill, that the government has tried to pass under urgency.
The discussion has mainly centred around one aspect of the act – the application of the bill – and not necessarily about its content. The area of concern was the proposed retrospective application of the bill to justify the illegal actions already taken by the Crown and its officials, to reach an outcome in favour of the government.
I have no issue with using initiative and decision-making on the front line, but it needs to be done within the bounds of delegated authority, or by mandate due to exceptional circumstances, but even this mandate can be worked out ahead of time.
To do the best you can with the information and resources that you have in hand at the moment of decision is excellent, but to decide on a course of action that you have no authority to take, then ask for that action to be justified later by retrospective minutes or law changes is asking for trouble. Allegations of fraud, corruption and a lack of transparency will cause organisations or government to become tarnished.
So what can be done to prevent this from happening?
Setting and enforcing clear lines of delegated authority, spending levels, policies and procedures, including situations of exceptional circumstances, can avoid many allegations against organisations and governments.
A person (leader) or government that finds themselves in a situation where they have breached these guidelines or policies needs to be held to account, and to rectify the circumstance.
Once a course of retrospective legislation or policy decision has been requested (note, I have said requested, not taken) the credibility of that organisation has been lost, and its leadership needs to seriously look at the tenure of their positions for the sake of their organisation, no matter how popular or charismatic those people are.
The Video Camera Surveillance (Temporary Measures) Bill, although not perfect, has passed after the removal of the retrospective clause.
But the fact that the government has proposed to use retrospective legislation in the first place should stand as a warning to all. The question is will they try to do it again: and if so, for what?
Paul S Allen