It isn’t what you sell, it’s how you sell it. How – specifically – you interact with the people buying your products, or services. When it comes to competitive industries whose companies sell similar products, oftentimes, their customer service is what makes them stand out.
One of my new year’s resolutions was to be more mindful when it came to my skincare and shaving products, and make healthier choices for both the environment and/or me. It also meant resolving to spend a heck of a lot more money than I normally would. Naturally (no pun intended), my expectations were going to be higher [for products more expensive than the ones I was using].
Last week, I told you I’d spill a couple of my recent customer service experiences. As promised, here are a couple products newer to the market, both purchased and used by me. My experiences with them left me disappointed, and – as a result – I contacted the respective companies to see how their customer service departments could help me.
Product purchased: Gillette Fusion ProGlide Power Razor for Men
What they say: ”The Gillette® Fusion® ProGlide™ Power Razor is Gillette’s most advanced blade ever. Thinner, finer blades* with a low-resistance coating glide effortlessly through hair for less tug and pull, providing incredible comfort, even if you shave every day. The MicroComb, found exclusively on the Gillette Fusion ProGlide Power Razor, guides stubble while thinner, finer blades cut close comfortably. The precision trimmer features an improved blade over Fusion and anti-clogging rinse slots. Ideal for shaving in tricky places like under the nose. That’s just one of the many features you’ll find on the Gillette Fusion ProGlide and Gillette Fusion ProGlide Power Razors.”
What I say: The name’s long, so to simplify it, let’s just this the most freakin’ expensive razor they’ve ever sold. So expensive, drugstores have to put the replacement blade packs under lock-and-key to prevent theft and the black market sales that ensue from it.
Yep. This thing’s like a miniature samurai katana sword for your face: it’s that damn sharp.
The precision trimmer?
When you’re a guy with a cleft chin (think any comic-book-superhero), it allows me to shave in corners I couldn’t before.
The Microcomb, however?
The metal guide and rubber guard are meant to line up your stubble in an orderly manner, giving you a smoother shave. It wound-up giving me some pretty bad, pretty uncomfortable razor burn. Razor burn I didn’t get when I used their older model, the standard-but-still-expensive “Fusion.”
I spent twelve bucks, only so I could get razor burn? WTF?!?!
I was ticked. I’d trusted this company and their razors for years. I spent far more money than I’d ever on a shaving razor. And this newer model disappointment me. Shaving’s a sacred time of day for a man. And it led me to do something I’d never done before, ever, in my life: write a complaint letter to customer service.
They responded the next day.
And when I say “they,” I really mean a person. An actual person, who – with their actual, legal name – signed the bottom of their speedily-sent reply letter. They not only apologized, but additionally, said that they would forward my letter to their research and development department, helping refine their current razor. How about that? It’s one thing to have a company hear you out, and completely another for them to use your comments and feedback toward the design of their products. I was impressed.
Being a years-long, loyal customer, I was more than alright with the apology alone. They did me one better. In the reply, they asked me to e-mail them back with my mailing address so they could send “compensation.” A week later, an envelope came to my house from Gillette. In it was A.) a hand-signed note from the same representative, and B.) two coupons, one for any razor handle of my choosing, and another, for any set of replacement blades I’d like. Well, I went to the drugstore to redeem them (deferring back to their older, original design), and the value of the handle and blades came out to more than $30. Didn’t ask for that, and certainly didn’t expect it, but their follow-through was so quick, so strong, and so above-and-beyond, I couldn’t help but be reminded why I loved the company to begin with.
Well done, Gillette.
Brand: Burt’s Bees
Product purchased: Burt’s Bees Natural Skin Care for Men Shave Cream
What they say: ”The perfect shave is within your reach thanks to this natural cream. It combines the skin calming effects of Calendula and Linden Extract with the hydrating effects of Chamomile resulting in a close, super stylin’ shave that looks and feels as smooth as you.”
What I say: I’m not a tree-hugger, but I am tree-friendly, and when I have the option to make a more environmentally-friendly choice, I do.
My girlfriend is a consultant for Arbonne skin care, and if I don’t buy something organic or natural, I’m going be hearing all about it. Every last cancer-causing, seal-clubbing ingredient. This keeps both my face and my girlfriend happy. So – for that much – thank you, Burt’s Bees.
As for the product itself?
Burt’s Bees makes products with a very distinctive, floral scent. I didn’t mind it. It sure smelled natural. Grassy, almost. Fresh-cut grass being one of the manliest of scents, so far, I was pleased. Who wouldn’t want to smell like a grown-ass man who can cut his own lawn?
In my hands, it felt thin. I was wary when I first bought it, and you could hear the “cream” sloshing around inside the tube. Putting some of it on my cheeks, I tried to form something resembling lather. I couldn’t. I applied more shave cream to my face. Rubbed it like Aladdin making his third wish on the magic lamp. Still, no lather. When I started using my razor, I noticed that it didn’t glide as smoothly. The cream wouldn’t wash off the blades as easily or cleanly as it does with an aerosol shave cream (think Barbasol).
@#$%!!! Razor burn. Again.
My temper burning as badly as my red, irritated neck, I decided to write up the company about my experience hoping that, if no other good would come out of it, maybe they could re-formulate their product and make a better shaving experience for someone else.
I wrote them a quick e-mail, being sure to re-iterate my appreciation of their natural products (I’d used others and been nothing but pleased), but also to say the shaving cream had let me down. Well, if Gillette seemed prompt, these guys were Johnny On-The-Spot, because no more than a couple hours later, I received a reply. Again, an actual customer service person replying in a format that wasn’t entirely boilerplate, and again, asking my mailing address so compensation could be sent. They told me, to make up for my disappointment; I could go onto their website and pick any product of the same value. Not only would they pick up the tab for it, but they’d send it directly to my house. I wouldn’t even have to go out to a store and redeem a coupon.
Trouble was, it never came. Or seemed like it would never come. Over a month later, a package came – much to my own confusion – in the mail (“I don’t think I bought anything off of EBay this week!?!?”). Sure enough, from Burt’s Bees. It was my replacement, complimentary product. Well, better later than never, I guess. Then again, better sooner than later, too.
How to get the same customer service results:
Create a personalized response. Trust me, when someone’s not happy with a product or service, the last thing they want is a standardized, by-the-numbers response that looks like it was torn from a book of Mad Libs. Something as simple as a personalized response, or even a handwritten signature, make all the difference between a lackluster, half-assed response, and one someone will truly value and appreciate.
Respond promptly. If I don’t hear back from your company, I’m going to assume either A.) you simply don’t care, or B.) my complaint isn’t the only one in your inbox. Both of those thoughts aren’t good ones to have. This is quite possibly the simplest suggestion, yet the most important. When someone has a problem, generally, they’d like it solved as soon as possible. Not a month from now.
Hear customers out. Assure the customer their feedback is being heard, and if possible, utilized to improve the product or service. I was both surprised and grateful Gillette not only listened to what I had to say, but passed it along to aid in the design of future products. As a long-time, committed customer, that meant a lot to me.
Keep it simple. Place as little burden of responsibility as possible on the customer, for example, instead of simply mailing a coupon for a complimentary product, mailing the product itself directly to my door. Direct compensation was used by both companies, which I was grateful for. I’ve known some companies to send coupons in lieu of complimentary products, and although the gesture is nice, it isn’t a full compensation. And I doubt they’re going to be in the mood to purchase any of your other products if they’re still dissatisfied about one.
Follow through. Gillette’s coupons, I was told, would arrive within 1-2 weeks. They came in less than one, and – because they overestimated the delivery time – I was nothing but pleased and impressed. They were accepted without question when redeemed at the store, and really, I couldn’t complain. Burt’s Bees looked promising when it came to compensation, but their replacement item didn’t arrive until well after I had given up hope of it ever coming.
All things considered, both companies’ customer service – in the end – did more than exceed my expectations, and I was fairly treated and compensated. If more companies could run theirs like these two, the world would be a much happier place.
Have you recently had to contact a company’s customer service department, and if so, what was your experience like? Are there companies whose service really stood-out in their service? What have you learned from your own personal experience(s)?