What picks one business from another?
Especially after there has been some history of customer interaction involved, it comes down to customer service. In this latest edition of 'Who wants my business', I have had to deal with Sunglass Hut and Oakley.
My wife bought me a pair of eye jacket Oakley's about seven years ago for my birthday (you get to choose which one). They cost about $160 at the time and have been worth every cent. They have however finally come to the end of their days. The frame must have just become too brittle in its long life and the frame broke above one of the lenses.
My first port of call was Sunglass hut. What are my options? I know it isn't going to be a warranty thing and I am happy to pay to get them repaired. After being sent away twice because the salesperson was busy with a difficult sale (I don't actually have a problem with this bit), I was told that without a receipt they wouldn't be able to send it away for repairs.
First problem here is that it is for a repair job, not a warranty job, yet I still need the original receipt. The reasoning provided was that too many people have bought fake sunglasses and brought them in for repair. This, for some reason, resulted in cost to the business so a receipt policy was put in place.
Second problem is that they were bought seven years earlier. I may have the receipt, but it might be just a little difficult to find.
Third problem with this policy is that even if I did have a receipt, it doesn't prove that the sunglasses being repaired are the ones that the receipt represents. I could have bought a fake pair since and wanted the fake set repaired.
Fourth problem is that their 'new' computer system only keeps records back to 2004. So if I don't have a seven year old slip of paper then I'm stuck because their database doesn't store enough historical data.
They suggested that I contact Oakley if I couldn't find the receipt because I would probably have to deal with them directly. When I got back to the office, I checked out the Oakley website. There was a contact us link there so I sent them an email. I outlined the situation and asked what I should do about it. When I sent the email, I was thinking it was a long shot and I would probably have to call them later anyway. After all, what kind of big business deals with the little people via email?
Within two minutes of sending the email, my work phone rings. I answer and it is someone from Oakley. They wanted to let me know what my options were.
From a customer point of view, Sunglass Hut have presented me (albeit pleasantly and apologetically) with four barriers in our customer relationship. Oakley on the other hand presented options, and did so with such swiftness that I almost couldn't talk when I answered the phone (you know when you answer the phone and your brain tries to understand the situation and catch up to the conversation again - perhaps that's just me).
Needless to say, I was incredible impressed with the customer service of Oakley.