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Customer Service Testimonials: 2 Companies That ‘Man Up’ and Make It Right

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.

Brand: Gillette

Product purchased: Gillette Fusion ProGlide Power Razor for Men

Gillette Fusion ProGlide Power Razor

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.

Thinner blades?

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.”

Wait.

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)?



Eric Labanauskas

Eric is a data entry specialist and contributing writer for the QLP Blog Squad. He is a city boy with a country heart, with an appetite for anything chicken-fried. He has studied as an apprentice at the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, performed across the country as Buddy Holly in "Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story," and can tie a bow tie by himself without the aid of a mirror. 1950's rock 'n roll is his soundtrack, especially while on road-trips with his lovely girlfriend. Suffice it to say, he is also the owner of some good cocktail party stories from his many experiences. You can also connect with Eric on Google+.

Comments

  1. Jenna Markowski

    It’s great that both Gillette and Burt’s Bees responded to your feedback with a real person quickly! I agree that it’s nicer for the company to send your reimbursement straight to your door, but if that’s going to take over a month I’d opt for the coupon. At least that way you were able to go out and get a razor you liked right away.

    I’ve never written a complaint letter, although I’ve thought of doing so. It would at least be interesting to see how other companies respond! Excellent post, Eric. You pulled some really good advice from your experience, so even though you didn’t get the products you anticipated, at the very least you got some blog post fodder! :)

    • Eric

      I never did before this, but at this time, in this economy, I couldn’t see continuing being Mr. Nice Guy, and just allowing things to slide by that shouldn’t. The drive through attendant at a locla Wendy’s sassed Shelley the other night, and – being a guy – I was none too pleased about it. Wrote them that night. They replied the following morning. Real person. Apology for the sass, mentioning they contacted the restaurant to assure it wouldn’t happen again. And – two days later – BAM! Coupons for two value meals, on them.

      Dumb mistakes we all make, and I don’t mind them. I know companies over-extend their employees when payroll is tight, and if a guy hired to do one job is suddenly doing five, all on his own? I’ll definitely be understanding.

      Just don’t sass a guy’s girlfriend. Never goes well.

      And hey…when you’ve some writer’s block, leave it to dumb luck like this to stumble about subject matter.

      Thanks for reading, Jenna! :)

  2. Cybernetic SAM

    Great post! I have had one too many bad experiences with customer service and all the stress of it. I really liked that these two companies really came through when it came to making good with a displeased customer. Too often, companies forget that very important detail that the whole reason they are in business is CUSTOMERS! So needless to say, it is kind of sad that we are shocked to see when a company follows through with their good customer service, and that it is more likely we all assume that having to deal with customer service is almost like poking a rabid bear as if we are inconveniencing them.

    • Eric

      Thanks, Sam!

      I’d definitely say “disappointed,” because I’m fond of both companies and have come to respect and – literally – endorse their products, suggesting them to friends at times.

      I’ve been pleasantly surprised, though, at how “Johnny-on-the-Spot” both these companies were, and how generous they were in their compensation. They’re smart, because they took accountability, apologized, and made things right. Will be buy their products again? Most definitely.

      And I should’ve added “Avoid rabid-bear-customer-service” as well. :)

  3. Jana Quinn

    Great case studies, Eric. I bet the companies appreciate the time you took to let them know how you felt; most people who are dissatisfied with a product or a service simply walk away silently, never to purchase again, or – worse – tell everyone how terrible the company is and never purchase again without giving the business a chance to make things right.

    I’d be interested to see what those complaint letters looked like; perhaps in the future you can do a blog article about the fine art of writing the letter with some good and bad examples of how to approach getting a dispute resolved.

    P.S. If you’re looking for environmentally-friendly and all-natural toiletries, check out Luxury Lane Soap: http://www.luxurylanesoap.com/category/scrub-soak-shave

    I promote them on a regular basis, because they rocked my socks off in customer service *and* product quality. Sure, they’re a little pricier, but you seemed to have made your piece with that component. Check them out, and you absolutely will not regret it. I use their soap, shampoo, and conditioner on a regular basis, and I’ve been nothing but pleased.

    • Eric

      Absolutely, Jana. It’s only fair to give a company a chance to make things right. It’s sad when you see a person resorting to the age-old, idle threat of “I’ll never come back here again!” Most times, they’re more than happy to solve your problem (it can only improve how they operate their business), and many times, the compensation more than makes up for it. However, sometimes it requires a little patience, which is increasingly rarer in an instantly-gratified society. It pays off, though, folks, so give it a try.

      With any luck, I hopefully won’t be writing another for awhile, however, I don’t think it would be a bad idea at all to give a tutorial on how to write one well. Looks like we’re gonna have to make like “Back to the Future,” and turn this one into a three-parter!

      Call me ignorant, but I only thought LLS sold, well…soap. Hadn’t any idea they expanded upon their merchandise and sold other things. I’ll have to check ‘em out.

      Thanks for the blog idea and the recommendation, both, Jana!

  4. Jen

    I’m so glad you got such great results from writing to these companies Eric. I’ve never actually written to a company before because I didn’t think it would make any difference, but I wish I had now. I will be sure to use your advice if I ever have to write a complaint letter in the future. Thanks for the great info!

    • Eric

      There are companies that don’t even reply. Maybe they’ll take your comments and do something with them. But you’ll never know, because they didn’t reply back. That happened to me as well, but more often than not, someone was ready and willing to help me out and make things right again.

      I think the complimentary product works as compensation because an apology over the phone (or in an e-mail) seems a little distant and disingenuous, even if it’s completely honest.

      And, hey, Jen…the worst they can tell you is “No.” Why not give it a try?

    • Amanda

      Same here Jen. I always figured it wouldn’t be worth my time. But I’m glad to read here, that it could easily be worth my time. I think the next time I get something that doesn’t hold up as it should, I’ll write to them.

      Thanks for the blog, and the encouragement, Eric. =)

      • Eric

        I never used to. Was too much of a “Mr. Nice Guy” to bring anything up. If I got a diet coke instead of a regular, I’d just resolve to drinking it without voicing the complaint. But hey. Like I’ve said, you really don’t have anything to lose. They say “no,” so be it, but at least you tried and got to voice your opinion. Hopefully you won’t have any cause to do so, but next time it happens, give it a shot. :)

  5. Rachel

    I don’t think I’ve ever written a complaint letter, but I’m glad to see that your experiences contacting companies in that way were positive ones. I think “Respond promptly” is the most important of your points — there’s nothing worse than feeling ignored, especially when you’re already upset about something. Even just a “we hear you and we’re working on the issue” is better than nothing.

    Great post, Eric!

    • Eric

      Right on, Rachel! What with the internet practically making anything link-able, customer service is usually only a few clicks away. Especially helpful if feedback concerns a specific party, and you don’t want to have to voice it to someone who may becone offended or – worse yet – defensive. Normally I’m against the anonymity of the internet, but in situations like the aforementioned, its a helpful tool and means of protection.

  6. Amy Swanson

    It’s so awesome to hear about the stories of receiving excellent customer service. It’s sadly so rare these days :(

    I think it’s nice that even though you were dissatisfied with these products, you reminded the companies that you have been pleased with them in the past. If I were reading through complaint letters/emails/tweets/etc I’d definitely treat the person who was calmly informing me why they didn’t like the product better than the crazy nut job yelling at me in all caps about how I should be on my hands and knees begging for forgiveness.

    Way to keep it classy, Eric! Great post!!

    • Eric

      Thanks, Amy! Like a film critic going to see movies all day…you want them to be good. You want products to work, and work well. I wouldn’t ever put myself into a situation knowing, beforehand, that the outcome would mean being disappointed. Comments from a long-time and loyal customer are going to mean something to them, as opposed to KrazyKarl1976 on Yelp. It establishes a credibility that makes you stand out, and shows you’re simply looking for an improved product or service. That they can work with, and probably fix. “OMGZ I’M NEVER EATING HERE AGAIN!!!” isn’t going to accomplish the same. If ever I’ve the time, I’m going to have myself a rant on Yelp! (speaking of).

  7. Kelsey

    I’m happy these companies took care of ya, Eric! From reading your last two blogs I have decided that it IS okay to have complaints if you go about them in the right way. With the last blog I read, I looked at the situation from a working point of view. I am not one to usually complain.. if my order is wrong at a fast food restauraunt or something I usually give it a “whatever” attitude because I don’t want to raise a commotion… or make anyone spit in my food hahaha….Reading THIS blog I am definitely looking at it from a customer point of view and you’ve kind of opened my eyes to the fact that it IS okay to have a complaint about something if you are respectful about it. Another great post! :)

    • Eric

      There are ways around it, Kelsey. I like a good Wendy’s salad, but the trouble is, they’ve so much stuff that comes with them that it’s highly probably something’s going to be left out of your order.

      Now, if I want croutons, I’ll ask for extra just to make sure they remember. Has yet to fail me, and receives a much better response than “AND DONT YOU FORGET THE CROUTONS CUZ IF U DO U RUIN MY DAY,” etc etc.

      I think tone is a large part of what will determine how warmly your feedback is received. You get what you give, and – to leave it on this note – “you’ll catch more flies with honey than you will with vinegar.”

  8. Mandy Kilinskis

    These are great customer service stories, Eric! It’s great to read when companies really want to make things right.

    I recently had a disappointing experience with a local Dunkin Donuts. I sent the Chicagoland DD Twitter account a tweet about it, and within minutes, they replied and wanted to rectify the situation. They sent me a gift card that was more than what I spent at the shop and a sincere explanation that they would look into the situation. DD, you win this round, because I’ll be back to use those gift cards.

    • Eric

      Never thought about it like that, Mandy. Even if it is complementary, you’ll still have to visit them again to redeem it. I think worth more to me than the compensation was when action was taken. They actually send letters like mine to the R&D dept. at Gillette. Knowing they’re listening is appreciated, but I’m more impressed when some corrective action is taken to improve the product or service.

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