Customer Service

Shreddies and service!
Shreddies and Service!

Putting in or taking away the “service”. This is a repost as it seems that some businesses REALLY need to learn things!!

I had two issues in the past several of months with two well known brands and found out what service means to different companies. 

Putting service in “customer service”

The first was Post Shreddies, two different boxes that were almost half crumbs, not cereal. I Contacted Post about this as I was getting annoyed tossing so much product that I paid for. The next day I got an email apologizing. Within a couple of weeks some coupons with a second apology. I am a happy Shreddies customer again!!!!

Taking service out of “customer service”

The second was with Coke. I tried the new Zero Coke and the one I had was flat and it tasted off. Thought it may be the new product so I tried a traditional Coke a few days later. It tasted fine but was also flatter than I remember Coke. Emailed Coke. Response a week later from Coke “thank you for your feedback”.  That was it. No apology, explanation.  Nothing!!! I seldom drink Coke and it will be less often now!

Both companies dealt with a complaint completely differently and one kept me as a customer and one lost me.  Add to that the exposure that each brand is getting by this blog post, one getting praise and one getting slammed, as well add up everyone that I have told about the good and bad service and one company is getting a lot of free advertising the other lots of bad advertising!

They are too big to fail!!!

Many years ago I worked for a large photo lab company and we used Kodak and Fuji photo lab machines, chemicals, paper and other products.  At the beginning of digital photography our company wanted to switch the way that we were doing a number of services. We wanted to write our own programs to use different printing machines for different products.  One of the machines was a Kodak product at about $35,000 cost for each machine and we had over 30. We contacted Kodak and asked for the ability to link their system with our software and we were told VERY rudely what we could do with that idea.

Kodak - no service!
Kodak…. no longer!

Now this was something that the VP of operations did not take well.  Within a day a Email went out to all the stores telling them to IMMEDIATELY unplug all machines.  The next day we removed the Kodak machines and put them in back so Kodak could pick them up.  We were no longer going to use Kodak products.  At that time Kodak was known for never bending to the customer. It was Kodak’s way or the highway and they never admitted fault with any problem. Plus they were always the biggest bully that they could be throwing their weight around at every chance.

During this time Kodak kept telling everyone that they were the biggest company on the planet and that they could NEVER fail.  In fact the US government issued a report around that time listing Kodak as one of the companies that the government could never let fail. If Kodak did go out of business they would destroy the US economy.

Where are they now??

Look at Kodak now and where are they?  The city that was Kodak’s headquarters and manufacturing facility has either been demolished or the buildings are abandoned. The city is falling into ruins.  Kodak products are no longer leading the market. If you do see a Kodak product someone bought the name and the rights to the product and they are now producing it themselves and labeling it Kodak.  All the people once employed by Kodak are gone. 


Why did Kodak fail?  Well first it was the attitude that they had. People only will take so much poor customer service before they bail.  Before digital many people were making the move to Fuji film because it was a better product at a better price. Why? Fuji listened to the people and made changes to meet customers demands.  In the photo lab equipment area that Kodak once owned Fuji and Noritsu took over. Kodak shrunk to almost nothing before they folded the division as Kodak would not listen to their customers.

Many other areas that Kodak ruled also died a painful death.  When digital came out Kodak was first out with a cutting edge digital camera for the professional photographer. They also brought out location printing stations but they soon lost this fight as well.  Kodak hung on to a outdated, poor quality digital camera charging $50,000 for what other manufacturers were selling for four or five thousand. This was the last big straw and customers left Kodak for good.

What to do??

So what should a small business, or any size business, do to survive and grow? First they need to listen to customers.  As the saying goes a happy customer will tell one friend a unhappy customer will tell ten.

Listen to what customers are saying and make changes as soon as you can so your unhappy customers are now happy ones.  Change, update, retool or whatever it takes to make your customers happy.  Stay on top of trends and adjust or have a good reason why you are not following the trend.

A couple years back I had some customers come in and ask for a certain type of print finish. I looked into it and found that it would cost me $15,000 and a lot of space to offer this. After I did some more research and found that the demand in the market was not there to justify the expense I decided not to offer it.  I then approached the clients who asked and let them know why I decided not to offer the product and explained the cost I would need to charge to break even. 

All the clients that had contacted me about this product understood except for one. That one was angry that I would not do it! They caused issues with telling people that I was not a good printer, that I did not have the “right” products and told everyone they knew.  I heard from other clients that this person ordered two prints done this way and spent a lot for them and all they did was complain about them. Sometimes you can only do so much to please some people!

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