Superior service is good PR

15 Feb 12 07:00AM EST
Post by Denis Gallagher

Recently a friend got the run around from a major consumer electronics company after downloading a game and finding out that it wouldn’t play on his gaming console which was made by the same company. All he asked for was a refund after the company confirmed that the game was indeed not compatible with his console.

The company knew this person had heaps of content with the company and also a range of hardware from the company purchased over the years so you could call him a “fan”. However this didn’t stop the support person quoting the Terms and Conditions document which meant he didn’t have to do anything.

I’m not here to argue about the fact that the average Terms and Conditions document is of biblical proportions which few people read to the end, or even to defend my friend’s case. The point is – for $17 wouldn’t it be a sensible corporate act to refund the money and make a happy customer?

While I don’t want to encourage any fanboy/girl reactions - I personally think no company should be treated like a pop group - I can vouch for Apple's service on a couple of issues that were resolved quickly and I think this effort to keep customers happy contributes to the often rabid fan-ism associated with the company.

Apple has the same hundred page “we aren't obliged to do anything to help you under the law” document and if you read it you may think you have no hope of getting any satisfaction when something goes wrong. However the following personal examples where misadventure and an honest mistake lead to a happy ending for the end user work wonders in the PR stakes.

Basically a complete replacement (or maybe a refurbished model I'm not sure) was given after a quick explanation of my miss-adventure with a phone and a refund on a downloaded app after making an honest mistake. On our last car GPS app test, I mistakenly purchased the Turkish version of a GPS app from the Apple store for $60! As most members are aware, we buy what we test and I didn't want to be wasting your money so I sent an email and a refund was given.

Firstly, due to the fact that I'd already synced with the iPhone, there was no way for Apple to stop me using the Turkish version of the app, so while I would have still been peeved, I would not have been surprised if a refund was not given.

This is in no way an endorsement of Apple as a sharing and caring company. I think all companies (at least all the successful ones) have as the bottom line to increase their bottom line. You don’t make more money than a medium sized country by giving stuff away.

So what’s the take away from this little story?

Firstly, if people get satisfactory service then there is no story. However both very good service and very bad service stories have a way of getting around. More companies should realise this and include feel-good refunds (for some areas) as part of their operating budget.

Secondly, don’t take no for an answer if you get stonewalled by the obviously bored/cranky/non-caring person on the other end of the phone line. Often a second call straight away will get a completely different outcome by talking to another person. You may not even need to play the “let me talk to your boss” card if you get someone who woke up on the right side of the bed.

Have you had any experiences of a company going beyond their obligations to help you?


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