I recently dealt with 2 companies regarding customer service issues. One company totally and completely gave me the “warm fuzzies” while the other made me so sickened that I have vowed to never do business with them again.
Marketing & customer service always fascinate me as a musician. I think that all of us could stand to take cues from companies that provide fabulous products and services to customers. After all we’re providing a product or service for other people, aren’t we? 🙂
Let’s get the crappy company out of the way first.
Case Study: United Airlines
I recently flew home from Denver International Airprot with a guitar in one of my Casextreme.com road cases. It’s big, but very light…the entire guitar comes to 23 lb or so.
It’s bad enough to pay extra to get it on the flight, but I’m used to that. However, the lady at the gate insisted that it was oversized. Mind you, skis in cases which are way longer are not considered oversize. When I interrupted her and said I’d never paid for oversize for this item, I was threatened that they’d call security. Gimme a break.
She got her tape measure out and proceeded with fuzzy math. It’s triangular but she measured as if it was a rectangle…length and width.
With her plastered on smile and customer service phrases out of a book, it was clear that I was dealing with a very scared little sheep who was afraid to think.
The point is..I fly all year. No one ever ever has charged me oversize for this. She was worried about keeping her job, not a customer.
Their fee: $100 on top of the baggage fee.
What did they get?: $100, and lost a customer
What did I get?: To take a plane ride that I thought I already paid for.
Their consistency: All airlines pretty much decide at the gate what your fate is and don’t have a standard. Sucks.
The “Warm Fuzzy” Factor? I now despise them and never want to fly on their airline again, I feel cheated.
If I didn’t use the big case, this would be the alternative, more than likely:
Case Study: Apple
A few years ago I paid $300 for Apple Care – Apple’s service contract for repair.
Last week, my laptop screen went black AND the keyboard and trackpad died. I went to the NYC Apple store and dropped it off.
First off, when you go there, all the workers have uniforms so that you can pick ’em out of the crowd. Every one of them has a personality and loves computers. Every one has intelligence twinkling in their eyes. And it’s a diverse bunch. Tattoos, piercings, black skin, white skin, short, fat, old, young…Apple’s diversity speaks volumes.
They took my MAC and diagnosed it. Wrote me an itemized list, and then the bill had a big, fat , delicious $0.00 at the bottom.
7 days later I picked it up. (I am typing on it now). When I picked it up, I tried it out, and dealt with another smart dude at the Apple Genius bar.
Their fee: $300 on top of the price of the computer
What did they get?: $300 but with their service I will buy again
What did I get?: A no-questions asked repair policy, and I have a brand new screen, keypad and mouse on my laptop. They did the mental ju-jitsu with me…even though I spent $300, it feels “free” and friendly.
Their consistency: 100% no questions asked. If you are their customer, YOU and your product is taken care of.
The “Warm Fuzzy” Factor? I now love then even more. Will buy again.
Apple got me for $200 more, but it’s not about the money. It’s not what they did, it’s how they did it.
The question we all need to ask ourselves is….what are we giving, what are we taking, how are we making our customers feel, what is our “warm fuzzy” factor.
Musicians – this means you (and me). No matter what the gig, be it teaching, small gig, big gig, CD, book….how warm and fuzzy do we make people feel?
I wish I could do even better than I do. Let me know how.
Long live the fuzz.
Rob Steinhardt says
Excellent thoughts as always AR.
Good breakdown of the scenerio.
So true that people are willing to pay a bit more, and at times
even a LOT more, if they have some assurance that when it comes time when we need the people we have paid for a given service…..that they will not only follow through, but do so w/o hassling us and making an ordeal out of a nuthin’.
We have all been to food establishments that are more expensive than some other place that is cheaper…..
and while a big reason we spend more is quality of the food, perhaps an even more important aspect is the quality of the over all experience. Vibe and atmosphere of the place, food taste, and ESPECIALLY….how are we treated by the wait staff.
Many time have I not returend based on a single encounter that was unpleasant…..
Like they say, you do not get a 2nd chance to make a 1st impression.
I suppose that is why those first 30 seconds or so on stage at a show is so crucial to a performer!
I don’t travel as frequently with my guitar and I was a little more than paranoid when I had to fly to Ireland with my new 000 Martin.
I was blissfully ignored by the ticketing and gate personnel and had ample room for my guitar in the overhead. I don’t own an indestructible case and I thought I was in for some heartache at the gate for sure.
It never materialized. Continental Airlines gave me every reason to feel safe about traveling with my guitar.
I’ve had the ” customer service experience” with quite a few different vendors in the past and can’t say I was treated fairly for more than 50% of my encounters.
As for my audience, I treat them as friends and make it easy for them participate or not by giving them my all with every piece I play and sing, even if I’ve sung the same song a thousand times. The energy I get from an engaged audience is addictive to say the least. When it all comes together it’s an electric experience of the highest order.
Although I have a real day job, I’m happy to be a working musician even if it’s only once or twice a month in a small local venue. You posted about playing for the sake of playing and not seeking the instant fame and acclaim. I don’t expect to get “bigger” than I already am and I’m content with that fact. (I’m a small fish in a small pond)
I play every time as if it will be my last song to sing. It’s very fulfilling.
I wish to add that I’m very impressed with your work and work ethic, keep up the good work.
Adam – take a look at this!! This guy also used United Airlines and probably won’t again…
Whoops sorry! Just saw you already posted that video! Sorry!
eNyrjo Walking in the presence of giants here. Cool thinking all around!
Single Malt Monkey says
Great post, Adam. The video gives me ideas woo hoo. Airlines suck when it comes to instruments. You would have thought that they would have got the idea by now.
Single Malt Monkey says
……..BTW, any trips to England planned anytime soon ?
David Henry says
Great blog, Adam. It’s a topic dear to my heart. I always strive to give our clients great customer service. I may not always be on top of my game, but I do ALWAYS realize the customer comes first. I know their experience with us will determine if they hire us again.
Adam Bronstein says
Air travel with guitars has always been an interesting topic of discussion. Musicians actually have the right to carry on our instruments as stated by the TSA https://www.newportguitarfestival.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/TSA-Rulinhttps://www.newportguitarfestival.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/TSA-Ruling-on-carry-on-Musical-Instruments.pdfg-on-carry-on-Musical-Instruments.pdf
Checking your expensive guitar can be anxiety provoking, especially when it is your favorite gigging instrument! Adding all of this on top of the already pleasant flying experience, ugh! Good thing you picked up that back up Maton 808 Michael Fix!
It is important to get on the plane early so you can hog an entire overhead bin. If these are full, ask if you can put it in one of the crew lockers up front. Discussing the “United Breaks Guitars” video has actually been a good icebreaker with flight attendants in the past. It really has shed some light on the subject!
I have gone as far as schmoozing with the gate attendant and explaining how precious my instrument is to me and asked to board early with granny and the strollers to ensure I get an overhead bin!