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Bill Derville, President
General Tool & Supply
Portland, OR

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Customer Service Starts with the Right Answers

Eric Allais
president & CEO

EricLast weekend I stopped into a local household appliance distributor.  It was their Service and Parts Center specifically.  At the front counter, a customer, with his arms waving, was "reminding" the young man that the reason he patronizes "his" business is because "they're supposed to be experts."  To which the young man replied, "yes, but I can't answer your question because I'm just the front counter guy and our techs don't work on Saturday's."

I thought to myself, a word to the wise here.  Put your most capable people in front of the customer at ALL times.  This distributor would have done themselves and their customer a huge favor by posting a sign at the front counter that read, "Technicians out, no hard questions, please."  But this is a Saturday.  Don't most working stiffs try and fit in a household repair on the weekend?   I got a similar response to my question.  A well meaning attempt, but again, the practitioners were out.  "Can we get back to ya?"

Leaving the store I told myself that I'd hack through the repair job myself.  After all if the Maytag Repairman could do it, blindfolded, so could I.  How hard could it be with a high school diploma?  After a short while my wife got tired of hearing my naughty monologue accompanied by the clanging of my own mixed bag of tools.  She called the distributor where we purchased the washer.   A nice lady answered and said their tech was with another customer but she would relay the message and he would call us back -- but by 3 pm as he would be gone for the day.  Well I thought -- we're gaining ground here because their guys actually have a tech for part of a Saturday.  

He called back.  He listened to my story.  Then admitted that he actually was not a technician but would try and work through my problem on the phone.   What he did admit was that this particular repair is one their technicians complain most about.  After unscrewing many too many panels to try and allow access to where I needed to be, the non-tech disclosed further that typically this repair installation takes either 3 people to do, or a "special tool."

With that, we hung up.  Well I knew that my sledge hammer, can opener and grass clippers were probably no match for whatever this special tool was.  I also knew that my wife and daughters would have a keen disinterest in providing extra hands.    So I re-assembled all the panels with all the nuts, bolts and fittings, and nothing left for the scratch box.   And, you guessed it; a bona fide technician will be making a house call tomorrow.  The unfortunate part is he'll undoubtedly use the special tool.  I won't see it.  I work on Tuesdays.   

Maybe there's a moral to this story:  Give your customers the right answers the first time.  You'll save them aggravation, reduce their blood pressure, and they'll come back to you again and again.

We thank you for the opportunity to help drive your business growth objectives in this New Year and new decade. 

All the best,  

Eric Signature

Eric Allais,

President & CEO