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Is great customer service an old fashioned concept?

June 14, 2011

Perhaps I am getting increasingly grumpy before my time (some family members might say so, or simply harking back to times past, but in the high tech, high speed age it seems increasingly difficult to encounter really genuine service. Businesses are conscious of costs and are striving for ever more productivity from ever smaller staffing levels and one result, in my view, is that customers are processed. We are inadvertently being trained to be pleased when the process appears to work and we get out the other end having achieved our end, not having paid too much to talk to the business in question and at best able to say we are satisfied (which often really means neutral).

Last week I blogged about problems I was having with my musical gear as I play in a band. I made contact with Marshall Amps and was impressed by how I was treated, and the possible options to resolve my problems. I feel it is only right to let you know how the story ended.

Marshall - an iconic brand

This morning I took my amplifier and associated kit off to Marshall in Bletchley. I was met in service reception by an engineer who was expecting me and offered a free coffee whilst he took my amp into his workshop to test. He returned about 15 minutes later saying he had tested everything and could find no problems. It can be very hard to trace the cause of problems so I was prepared for this and retrieved the rest of my kit from the car. The engineer then patiently helped me set up in an attempt to replicate the previous problems. Of course, much like a TV performing animal, my amp was overcome by the sense of occasion and sounded pretty good. There still was some excess noise and so the engineer called in a senior colleague to get a second opinion. The decision was to replace a valve that could be an issue. My amp was taken away again for a few minutes and I was left talking to the senior engineer about how impressed I was with the service.

Finally, my amp was returned and when I attempted to pay for the time and replacement part I was told that as there was really no fault, there would be no charge. Fantastic.

Now I have always been a fan of Marshall Amps, but if and when I ever need to replace my much loved version, you can guess where I’ll go. Marshall is recognised as an iconic brand, but much more than that they realise the importance of brand loyalty. From my limited exposure I cannot believe that their service function makes them any money directly; in fact I imagine it costs them quite a bit to have a small team of engineers available to customers like me. Even more amazingly, I purchased my amp second hand and not from Marshall or a dealer, but that was never an issue. It’s a their amp so needs attention.

Next year Marshall celebrates 50 years of making great amps so clearly the service strategy pays off.

Do you think service levels of this type are old fashioned and a thing of the past?

How do you build brand loyalty with your customers?

How do your customers describe their experiences with your brand?

 

Richard Lock

Engaging trainer, facilitator, coach, and presenter. Pioneer of socially responsible learning. Cause Related Learning provides high impact, high emotion learning experiences and challenges that motivate, improve communication, challenge thinking and inspire people to make a difference.

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