Service Quality Cuts a Wide Swath

by Dr. Gordon D. Booth

Recently, I had several negative experiences involving quality of service. These experiences reinforced some ideas I have held for many years, but having them brought so vividly to mind caused me to reflect, once again, on past experiences.

I think I like a bargain as well as the next person. Therefore, I usually try to get the best price possible. However, some bad experiences with the service of some companies has taught me that--at least for myself--I will pay somewhat more to avoid the problems associated with poor service. Good service, on the other hand, can work wonders for a company.

As an example, I have ordered numerous computer peripherals and software by telephone. These orders have been placed with several different companies. The level of service has varied widely from company to company. A few weeks ago, I placed an order with a company I had not dealt with before. The price quoted for the item I wanted was higher than the price quoted by another company. I told this to the salesperson who promptly said that he would meet the price I had stated. I decided to place the order with this company as a trial. He told me that they would have the item delivered the next day.

It was at this point that unexpected things began to happen. The following afternoon, I received the item as promised. This did not surprise me because other companies I had dealt with usually did the same thing. The surprise was that about an hour after the item arrived, I received a phone call from the salesperson with whom I had placed the call. He said he simply wanted to make sure the item had arrived as promised and thanked me for my business. I assured him that it had and thanked him. His concern for my satisfaction pleased me, but the best was yet to come.

The next day, he called again just to find out whether I had any installation problems and to make sure I was getting along well. I told him that it was working well and that I was satisfied with the purchase and the price.

What was the result of this experience? I assure you that this company will be considered at the top of my list when I place my next order. In fact, I would feel comfortable paying slightly more just to have that level of service.

Another incident occurred when I received an order and found that the item did not perform as promised. I was not happy when I called the manufacturer. In fact, I had made up my mind that I would not buy any other item of that brand. My attitude changed completely when the woman who answered my call seemed so concerned that I have a good experience. In fact, I ended the conversation by accepting another model of the product that she felt would better meet my needs. The result was complete satisfaction with the company and with the product. My attitude completely reversed due to the good service I received.

These two experiences illustrate how effectively two companies were able to make me a satisfied, repeat customer by providing quality service. Too often, manufacturers of tangible products feel that if their product is of good quality it will be successful in the market place. This is often not the case. The service a customer receives can either make or break a company, regardless of the quality of the product itself.