Paul Burwick is one of the members of our customer service team. Recently he received an email from one of our customers. She had some issues with the install of one of our products (ceiling tiles). Several members of our sales and support team helped find a solution to her problem. Joyce shares her gratitude and experience in the letter below.
In response to your Friday afternoon email, I left a voicemail message at your extension on Saturday expressing my appreciation for all your help with my “lines” issue. Later today I will call you and place on order on the third option you offered, but before that happens, I wanted to take a moment and write you about my experience with Wishihadthat.com.
There are at least three or four things that would seem to make me qualified to offer my Customer Customer opinion:
1. I live in the country (read: tertiary market where deer, fox, hawks, and eagles abound, but goods and services, no so much) but thanks to modern technology, I do 90% of my shopping online where I am seldom limited to what is locally available. Over time I have learned several important things about online shopping, including that the old adage “You get what you pay for” does not always hold true (case-in-point: paying top dollar, distance-learning tuition does not guarantee a high quality instructor), and that the electronic experience is often just that, a mechanical interaction with a sophisticated machine (case-in-point: communication, while instant, is generally a computer generated auto-response, and human contact, if one needs it, is at the least someplace 24-48 hours away).
2. For more than seven years, I served as Operations Manager for an ISP Technical Support Call Center where I also learned that another old adage “The Customer is always right.” does not always hold true. No matter how deep, it was always fairly easy for my team to answer the next call in queue, but often it took super human abilities to remain on the line.
3. When I retired in March, 2008, I was not one of the guys who made it out of town with all the money, but rather, I was among those who woke up that surreal day in October to find those who fled the financial scene had taken with them a good portion of my life savings.
So it was that when I received a post-UPS-delivery email from “Paul” at Wishihadthat.com, I was certain the name was a quaint designation for an electronic mailbox where my response would, in the best of all possible worlds, linger for many days until a representative got around to it, or, where a it would go to an instant death, fried into oblivion by the brutal circuitry of an impersonal server.
How delightful it was to learn not only that “Paul” existed as a living, breathing human being, but that you also cared enough to read through my rather long email, and get right back to me!
My utter amazement that you had a human identity paled in contrast to my surprise that you would share your email address and your last name! In my experience, such disclosure is rare, if not unique, and it says so much about the integrity of your company, as well as your own. Imagine, then, how delighted I was when I happened to call via landline and learn that, coincidently, at that very moment, you were discussing my problem … in that instant I discovered I was indeed “real” for you as well!
Your solutions email was even more impressive. The time you took to lay out all my options, along with the pros and cons of each, spoke volumes about the high caliber of folks at Wishihadthat.com in general, and yourself in particular. Considering my initial ceiling skin order did not even break the $200 mark, I was genuinely floored that you cared enough to concern yourself with the additional cost of some of the solutions you offered. Needless to say, your discount offer cemented my opinion in stone: you genuinely care about your Customer, and for this, I am equally grateful.
As I mentioned, I do a lot of online shopping, big and small, so when, after 21-years, it came time to replace our kitchen stove, I thought nothing of shopping the internet and ended up buying a top-of-the-line range from a major manufacturer. After dropping more than twenty-five-hundred dollars on the thing, a mere three months into ownership, it went from dead silent operation to suddenly sounding like a NYC Subway Train running through the kitchen; my first Thanksgiving using it was an audio nightmare! To make a long story short, it was months and months of emails into a void, and numerous unreturned phone calls, until the point where the 1-year warranty was about to expire, the issue reached the very unsettling conclusion. During my last Customer Service encounter with the company, I learned in my account was the following note: the unit ran quiet for the first three months because it was broken for the first three months. Something must have kicked on during that time, and now that it makes a lot of noise, it is fixed. Nothing to be done. Case closed.
What does this have to do with you?
Paul, you made me feel as important (if not as intelligent) as a contractor who might have spent 10 times what I did, whereas Electrolux made me feel like the village idiot … it goes beyond the money spent or the thing purchased, it strikes to the heart of who cares about who and why. Granted, I am not going to buy another stove any time soon, so, it’s probably okay to have lost a me as a customer, but then again, how likely is it I will be replacing ceiling tiles in the near future?
The price of loyalty is not always a repeat customer, it is what Customer repeats … the all-powerful “word-of-mouth” … and you, Paul, have garnered a loyal customer in ways of which neither of us is probably aware right now.
Okay, this letter has become very long-winded, but before I close there is only one more thing I want you to know.
When I ran the call center, I used to try to encourage the team to not take some things personally because while they might feel like a target, in reality, they had no idea what the person on the other end of the phone might really be yelling at: their dog died that day, their wife was in the other room dying of cancer, they just lost their job that morning. But, even though it was sometimes hard, if the representative could just try to return kindness for the unjustified rant, perhaps it might make all the difference in the world for someone who was misplacing their anger, fear, or sadness.
Well, Paul, I have multiple sclerosis and it hurts like hell to climb up and down a ladder; hurts really bad to put a chalk-line grid on the ceiling so the tiles line up perfectly; and oh, my how it hurts to reach up over head and stick tiles into the grid. And, of course, it was madding to find no matter what, the cut of the edges would make it a mess. It was physical pain compounded by emotional frustration a combination of pain which is difficult to describe.
There was no way you could have known about my MS, and no reason you should have cared. But even without such knowing, care you did, and your kindness and genuine consideration are of greater value than any amount of money I could have put into the project.
Long after you put this email away, long after you will have forgotten me as a customer, I will still be looking up at my ceiling (this is most definitely the last time I will be doing this sort of over-my-head home improvement project) and when I do, I will remember you, your work ethic, your professional help, and your personal kindness … I will remember my Customer Service experience at Wishihadthat.com and so will any one I know who is looking to remodel their home. This I promise you, and the Wishihadthat.com company.
I do not know if Scott is a Team Leader, but whether he is or not, I know he helped with solution ideas, and so I hope you will share this letter of appreciation with him, too. I also request you forward it on to whomever is in management, so they too will know the kind of quality work you do, and the kind of experience your Customers enjoy when working with you.
With best regard,