A customer service tale, or two…

We all have stories about customer service, mostly when it’s poor service. We tend not to get too excited when what we expect to happen, happens.

But in the last few weeks I’ve had some interesting experiences with local businesses that I thought I’d share.

The first is with Pittwater Mowers, my local store about 200 metres from my home as the crow flies.

Pittwater Mowers

For my sins I mow my lawn as often as necessary, which in Summer is almost weekly. In the first week of December 2012 I dropped my lawn mower into Pittwater Mowers because it wasn’t idling properly. They said they would service it and text me when it was ready. I had bought the mower about 18 months earlier.

A week later I had not heard so I dropped in to see how the mower was going. The bloke behind the counter flipped some forms, clicked a mouse and then told me they hadn’t looked at it, but would do so on Monday and text me. Come Tuesday, still no text. Come Saturday and still no communication. So I dropped in again to see how my mower was enjoying its visit. A different bloke flipped some forms, clicked a mouse and said it would be done first thing on Monday.

As the grass was approaching calf length I borrowed a mower from a lawn-mowing service working on my neighbour’s garden – getting the place ready for auction. It was such a stinker of a day he didn’t want a second mowing job, but generously offered me his mower so I could do it myself.

Christmas arrived, still no text. I went away for a couple of weeks and returned mid-January. The grass looked more like a crop awaiting harvest, so I dropped in to Pittwater Mowers again. The bloke flipped some papers, clicked a mouse and advised me they needed to order a part. I asked if it had been ordered and he hung his head in embarrassment, told me he would text me after he’d spoken to the supplier on Monday.

This time he was true to his word and he rang and left a message – the part would not be delivered until early February. So now I’m borrowing my neighbour’s mower to trim my grass crop until the next text message. My mower is nothing complicated, just a middle of the road lawnmower found in most backyard sheds or garages in suburban Oz. But I could have gone onto elance.com and paid someone in India to build one in less time this ‘service” has taken. And now we’ve had the highest rainfall since the last time we had the highest rainfall in Sydney, so I’ll be bailing hay in my backyard next weekend.

Counter the lawnmower service with the service we received from Bike Addiction, located about 100 metres down the road from Pittwater Mowers.

Bike Addiction

My son and I went there to look for a new bike for his birthday. He’s outgrown his current one and needs something bigger. The young bloke greeted us enthusiastically, assessed my son’s height, asked his age and other questions related to how he would use the bike – will he be crossing fjords, doing tricks off stairways, etc.

He recommended a specific bike, had my son test it and advised that the one in the shop was already sold, but new stock was due in next week and he would call when it arrived. Guess what? He called the following week. We dropped in on the weekend. He fitted the bike to my son’s requirements, watched him test ride it in the street, threw in a drink bottle and we left as happy campers with a new bike – very cool wheels I must say:)

The contrast in service couldn’t have been more stark.

Then my wife went to buy some wine at our local Vintage Cellars.

Vintage Cellars

We are members of the club and have 2 membership cards, so either of us can use them when we shop. The club mails “Cellar Shares” to you once you’ve spent way too much money on wine and the share is redeemable for $25 against a future purchase. My wife often buys the wine as the store is near where she shops for other food. The lady that serves her knows her and regularly recommends wine.

But when my wife presented the Cellar Share to redeem against her latest purchase, the lady who always serves her refused to accept it – because it was in my name. I joined as a member, but I don’t recall the membership form asking for the name of an additional member, even though they give you 3 membership cards.

So while the lady serving accepted our membership card to acquire points for our membership, she would not accept the Cellar Share for redemption against said purchases.

To say my wife was a tadded miffed is an understatement. She left the store, came home, gave me an earful of what she thought of Vintage Cellars and went online to the Dan Murphy home-delivery service and placed an order that arrived within 2 hours. That’s how fragile brand-loyalty is these days. People can switch at the click of a mouse, or a quick phone call.

I’ve always said your brand is only partially built by what you say about yourself and mostly built by how you service your customers – after all they are the ones paying your salary.

My son is enjoying his new bike, my wife and I have enjoyed a few wines – I’ll keep you posted about the world’s longest lawnmower service.

One comment

  1. Mal —

    Terrific post. Pittwater Mowers also sell Stihl chainsaws. These things are made in Germany and used all over the world by people who are deadly serious about reducing the height of vegetation. I had two at my bush property.

    After trimming the lawn just once with a Stihl, you’ll never need to cut it again. Just step outside, crank up the Stihl, rack the throttle a few times with a menacing expression on your face, and the grass will be so terrified it will never grow again. Ever.

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