Two examples of understanding how to do business so customers come back, and having staff right down to the dirty-fingernails level that also get it. My text for this sermon is Leon Leonwood Bean’s immortal prescription: “A sale is not completed until the customer has worn out the item and is still satisfied.”
I. My In-Sink-Erator hot water dispenser (this is a gadget mounted in and under the countertop that dispenses really hot water, hot enough to make tea) developed a leak from the tank after about a year. Without the sales slip, and ready for a spat, I called the toll-free number (i) printed on its label. I got (ii) a gracious CS agent, and told him the story, including the serial number, all wound up to rail about “who keeps sales slips for something like this?”
He said (iii) “the date of manufacture for that was about a year ago, and it has a two-year warranty, so let’s get you a new one. We have two plans. In plan one, we’ll send a tech to your house to do the work, and we just need to make an appointment.”
Beginning to doubt that I would get to have my argument, but not looking forward to having to stay home for this, I said “what’s the other plan?”
(iv) “We have a do-it-yourself plan, where we send you a new unit and you install it. If you take this option, we’ll also send you a $25 Visa Card.”
“Do I have to send the old one back?”
Five good decisions in a row, and (vi) this is an especially well-designed item (well, except for the leak), easy to install; it hangs on two screws and has three no-tool connections of three different sizes that cannot be mixed up, and an electrical plug. The new water dispenser arrived in five days, the Visa card in three, and it took about 90 seconds to install. I’m having a nice cup of hot tea now. In-Sink-Erator, in case you forgot the brand name; they also make nice garbage disposalls.
II. On my way to Europe on United Airlines a couple of weeks ago, I spent 20,000 miles to upgrade from business to first class just to try it out. I have a lot of trouble using the miles I’ve accumulated, so this seemed pretty cheap. (It was quite a cushy, comfortable experience but in no way worth what they charge for it if you buy an actual ticket, especially as their new international business class seat is quite sleepable.) At some point I lost a keychain with a flash drive, nail clipper, key and something else deep in the machinery of the very mechanized seat, and two flight attendants and I, poking and peering, couldn’t see it from above or underneath after we arrived. I considered it gone forever. Nothing critical on the flash drive, so not the end of the world.
A day after I arrived, my daughter emailed me that an engineer from United had called, having found the keychain and browsed the flashdrive for contact information. He was quite concerned that I might need it for a presentation wherever I was going.
I called him back and told him when I was returning, and he was waiting for me at the gate with my keys five days later, tool belt, steel-toed shoes and all; I gave him a box of duty free chocolate and extensive thanks, he went off to work on another aircraft, and I’m telling this “United gets one right” story to you. I also sent United a note with his name; I hope they make a proper fuss about him.