Wednesday, October 20, 2010
A few weeks back, my son Adam had a little trouble with a faulty roll of aluminium foil. As he explains it "I could pull out both sides, but try as I might, could not lift the middle without it tearing."
Adam thought about taking it back to the store, but having previously discarded the receipt, knew they'd only give him a hard time; so to avoid further frustration, he tossed the foil in the bin and the box in the recycling.
The following evening, faced with the prospect, not to mention expense of having to go out and get another roll, he decided to call ALCAN, the company that manufactured the faulty foil, and let them know about his experience with their product. Given ALCAN's offices are back east, and it was already late in the day in Vancouver, not surprisingly his call was answered by an automated voice messaging system.
At this point Adam considered simply hanging up and letting sleeping dogs lie, but something in the tone of the message encouraged him to leave a brief description of his complaint as well as his contact details.
The very next morning he received a very well crafted, personalized email from a company rep at NOVELIS FOIL PRODUCTS, the distribution company that represents ALCAN. This email contained a sincere apology, an assurance that they would make good on his purchase, a few questions about the problem and a request that he return the roll (at their expense) so as they could investigate further. This was clearly not a form letter and was worded such that it left Adam feeling they truly appreciated his feedback... and were actually going to act on it!
He replied explaining that unfortunately, he had thrown out the contents, but still had the box in his recycling. While half expecting not to hear back, in very short order he received a 'no problem' response with a further assurance the company would make good on his purchase and a 'if it's not too much trouble' request for the product code off the box, so that the quality control investigation could continue.
Another email or two ensued and, to make a long story short, just the other day Adam received the package pictured above, along with a further thanks for bringing this matter to the company's attention.
Now that's what I would call 'Putting Things Right!'Sidebar: By shear coincidence, around the same time this was going on, I attended a sales and marketing workshop where the facilitator suggested "there isn't a company out there that knows how to effectively deal with customer complaints." I would suggest that the good folks at Novelis would prove him wrong.
And, in fairness to ALCAN, who arguably manufacture the best foil on the market, if you manufacture hundreds of thousands of anything, somewhere along the line, even under the most stringent quality controls, you're going to have a defect slip through. It's what happens when one does, like the response described above, that separates great companies from the also ran.
You may recall, late last year I posted an article entitled "Revenge" which described what happened to one company when they failed to act on a customer complaint. Perhaps United could learn a thing or two from ALCAN and Novelis.
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