Wednesday, January 9, 2013
The Benefits of Being a Product Expert
Happy New Year! I know it's been awhile since my last blog post. I needed to take a little rest from blogging, plus I did some traveling in November and December and lastly, I celebrated a nice holiday with my little family. Sometimes the "extras" have to take a back seat to what is happening right now. I chose to be present with my family and let the blog slide. I had some cute Thanksgiving and Christmas posts, but I'll have to share in summary form one of these days.
Jumping into this year, I read an article tonight that reminded me of a post I wanted to write. The article I read was about a little boy who wrote a letter to LEGO after losing a piece to a new set he bought with his Christmas money. You can read the full article here. The gist of it is that the boy's dad had told him not to bring his new toy to the store to prevent him from losing pieces. Boy didn't listen. Boy lost new toys. Boy wrote a letter to LEGO and LEGO responded with a creative letter back and is replacing the lost toy for him. It's a great story of customer service (and creating a customer for life).
It reminded me of a few letters I wrote to companies last year and the subsequent responses I received. I must first tell you that I don't make a practice of writing letters to companies. I am not the kind of person that solicits for free items. Granted, I'll snatch up free offers, but the keyword being OFFER (as opposed to solicit). I'm going to share with you three instances where being a self-proclaimed product expert has helped me when I had a defective product. Please note: I am not employed by or paid to provide these reviews. I am simply sharing my experiences with a product I like and service that went above and beyond the norm.
If you know me IRL, then you know I spent many years working for Victoria's Secret. I started as a part time sales associate and worked my way into management, first running a store and then doing training for states in the western United States. Needless to say, I consider myself an expert on VS bras. At one time I had a dresser just for my 125+ bras. It was a sick obsession. I still buy my bras from VS. I treated myself to a new one last summer but after wearing it just a couple of times, it developed a stench. We're talking wearing it through 2 marathons type of body odor. I tried everything I could to get the smell out of it. I washed by hand and eventually by machine. I used all sorts of laundry products on it, but was unable to remove the odor. I figured it was a completely worthless bra since I couldn't return to the store after wearing and washing. So I wrote to the company. I crafted a nicely worded letter explaining my problem, my history with the company and their products and the fact that I am now a SAHM on a limited income who feels like I had wasted $50 of hard earned cash. It didn't take long to receive a response from the client relations department. They sent me a voucher for a free bra (with a dollar limit of course). Talk about taking care of their customers. I already was loyal, but for them to replace my defective product was above and beyond. This lady is sticking with Victoria's Secret.
When you are a parent, you know what kinds of messes follow children. I'm by no means one of those moms who has a spotless home, but I do my best to keep it clean. I have a cleaning schedule to help me get the tasks done on a routine basis. (I blogged about it here). One of the tasks I have on my schedule on a weekly basis is scrubbing the floors. Yes, I could do it more, but again I prioritize my kids before cleaning. I like to use the Swiffer Wet Jet for scrubbing my floors. We had recently bought a new SWJ mop to replace one that was years old and had finally broken. I used this mop just a handful of times and the handle broke off. Again, I felt I was a product expert having used this product for about 10 years. Plus, I'm not a brute or use excessive force. There was no reason for it to have broken already. I wrote the company, explained my situation and they responded by sending me a voucher for a brand new SWJ system. Those things run about $20-25 depending on the retailer. Once again, when a company stands behind their product to a customer like that, it means something in my book. I will continue to buy and use their products.
My last instance was fairly minor, but significant in the response nonetheless. I went to a new beauty retailer in town and bought some new colors of OPI nail polish. I think OPI makes some of the best polish available for the regular person to buy. It applies well and lasts longer than most other polishes out there, especially for this mama who is tough on her nails. One of the colors I purchased turned my fingernails a putrid yellow color when I removed the polish. I had it on about a week, but it stained my nails like you wouldn't believe. After a nicely worded letter to the customer service department, they offered me a bottle of polish in any shade to replace the one that stained my nails. Do you think I'll buy OPI again? You betcha!
The bottom line is this: if you have a product toward which you are loyal or a product about which you feel you are an expert and you feel you have a defective product, try to find a solution before discarding it completely. I realize that my advice of finding a solution rather than complaining about the problem is not a NEW concept, but it is one that needs reminding from time to time. Many companies care about their customers and their customer's opinions about the product. Don't be snarky, don't be rude. Just state the facts in a polite manner and ask what they can suggest for a resolution. Worst case scenario, you're in exactly the same spot as when you started, but best case, you might be surprised.
ps-I'm having issues with the photo uploader. I've been trying for 2 days to upload some pictures but it's not in my cards. Guess it's just text today!