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Some Kidding Aside – Customer Service with a Wrench

Question: How do you know for certain that you have provided your customer the very best in customer service?

Answer: When they are thanking you as they hand you the check.

Not long ago the heating element gave up the ghost in our dryer at home. It’s been a great dryer but it is old and probably is in need of replacing. Being as cheap as I am (I like to think of myself as uber-thrifty), I’m going to try to squeeze another thirty or forty years out of it.dryer_wrech

I called the appliance repair center and was told by a bored-sounding customer service rep that a house call by their technician would run me just under $100 for his “diagnostic visit.”

Now, not liking to trounce a company by name, I want you to know that I’m going to avoid naming the appliance repair company and will just will refer to it as Sneers.

Since my Sneers dryer was old and I didn’t want to pay a repairman–um, excuse me, I mean “diagnostician”– $100 bucks to come to my house to tell me I need to buy a new dryer, I asked the customer rep if she could tell me if they still make the heating element for my dryer. At this, she sounded irritated that A] I‘m using up valuable oxygen on the planet B] she was still on the phone with me, and C] I was making her look up stuff on her computer. But I persisted and finally she sighed and I heard the angry tapping of a keyboard in the background. Then she told me that yes, they still make the desired part but that it was on back order and would take three or four weeks to get in… maybe. I couldn’t help but notice how happy she sounded delivering this news.

I got off the phone with her and found another repairman, named Eric from All Area Appliances Services, Inc.,  in my area that would only charge $10 bucks to come out and take a look at my dryer. After talking with the good folks at Sneers, $10 sounded like a pretty good deal, so I had the guy come take a look at my dryer. When he got to my house it took him about three minutes to take my dryer apart and confirm the heating element was shot.

     “Can you get the replacement part?” I asked, fearing the worse.

     “Sure, I have one in my van right now,” he answered.

Hmmm. This rare, antique dryer part that Sneers had on back order happened to be out in his van.

He brought the part in and I compared it to the old part and sure enough, it was the exact same part. He installed it inside of about five minutes and the dryer worked perfectly.

Well, now he had my attention so I asked him if he also worked on washing machines. Mine had stopped agitating properly about a month earlier. He told me he did and would be happy to look at it for no extra charge since he was already at my house. He did so and told me it was a simple repair. He also said that he had the parts in his van and would knock a bit off the price if I went ahead and got it done that day.

Wanting to make sure I wasn’t being taken for a ride, I hovered over him and peppered him with questions about the repair, which he seemed more than happy to answer.

When he finished with the washer my wife asked him, “Do you work on ice makers?” Ours had burned out the week before. (When it rains, it pours, huh?).

He said he did and—you guessed it—he would be happy to take a look at ours for no extra charge.  He diagnosed the problem quickly, had the part in his van and—you guessed it again—gave me a discount since I was willing to go ahead and have him take care of it while he was already there.

Since his trip to my house, I’ve probably recommended his business a half dozen times.

What did he do to make me such a big fan of his?

1] He was willing to prove himself and his services for a chance to earn my business.

2] He responded to my needs in a timely manner.

3] He listened to my questions and answered me with respect and patience.

4] He offered me a valuable service for what I felt was a fair price.

5] He evinced ownership in the quality of his work and backed it up with his personal guarantee.

All of these things are evidence of quality customer service and in a tough economy, it’s a good idea to remember that good customer service = happy customers = job security.

And, by the way, when the repairman left my house that day, I was thanking him as I handed him a check for two or three times what I had originally intended to spend and haven’t regretted it for a moment since.

Feel free to reprint this article in your organizational publication.  We only ask that you use the following attribution blurb at the bottom of the article:

 © 2010 Charles Marshall. Charles Marshall is a nationally known humorous motivational speaker and author. Visit his Web site at  or contact him via e-mail at

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