Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Customer Service - done RIGHT!

These days it’s very rare for me to have a customer service experience that truly is satisfying.  In fact, this is the first customer service experience I’ve had in my lifetime that I felt the need to put pen to paper (well, fingers to keyboard…) and tell the world about it.  It’s certainly still possible to occasionally get good customer service when going to a local store such as Lowes and approaching someone face-to-face.  But, what I’m talking mostly about is online or over-the-phone customer service.
All companies today are doing everything possible to cut costs and one seemingly obvious way to do this is by utilizing more and more technology to streamline customer service and eliminate as many people (that have to be paid wages…) out of the process as possible.  Usually, this just means that we as customers have to deal with reduced quality in service due to shouting at the phone to make it understand what we want or answering the same questions multiple times.  Why does the automated system make me type in my account number and then not share that info with the real person when I finally get to talk to them???  Maybe companies are saving money but they ARE NOT providing a better customer service experience.
logo-logitechOne company that I recently had an experience with has figured out how to use technology to properly streamline customer service to produce a service that is truly superior than the old way of just talking to someone over the phone is Logitech.
Harmony900We recently built a new home and as part of the design we decided to put all the A/V equipment in a closet out of site.  The problem with this design is that it requires that you have a RF remote that can work through walls.  When we made this decision I was unaware at how few options there exist for universal remotes that have this capability and how expensive the ones that do exist can cost.  After much research, I decided to go with the Logitech Harmony 900.  It is a truly wonderful remote that I highly recommend but that’s a review for another blog post…
So, we had the remote for about a month before the screen turned white and would not operate any longer (WSOD – white screen of death?).  I researched all the internet posts about it and some had been able to fix it with a BIOS upgrade but this wouldn’t work for me since the remote was also no longer detected by my computer.  All of the programming and configuration of this remote is done through your computer and the settings are all saved on Logitech’s website.  A nice feature that I didn’t fully appreciate at the time…
So, after exhausting my abilities and what little info was available on the internet regarding how to fix the problem I dreadfully went to the Logitech Customer Support site one night at around 8:30PM CST and filled out a short form that basically asked for the serial number and a description of the problem.  I submitted it and expected to get an automatic email back telling me to do everything that I’d already done and to start a dreadful back and forth “conversation” that would eventually end a month later with me having to send the remote to them and having to pay to get it fixed.
Did I mention that I bought this remote “used” on eBay for about half the retail cost?  Yea, that’s why I was dreading this whole thing so much.  I knew for sure that as soon as they asked where I bought it from that any warranty would be void and I would then be stuck having to pay to get it fixed.
To my surprise, about an hour after I submitted the form I got an email back from a Logitech “Customer Care” person (thanks Devin!)  The email did of course do as I expected and suggested that I try upgrading the firmware.  However, what I did not expect was that it also said the following…
[copied from the actual email from Logitech Customer Care]
If the firmware update does not fix this problem, then I do apologize for the inconvenience, but there does appear to be a hardware issue with your Harmony remote. Before I can submit your warranty claim, I would require some additional information. I would kindly ask that you reply back to this email with the following information:   1. Full Name: 2. Street Address (No PO Boxes please): 3. City/Town: 4. State: 5. Zip Code: 6. Country: 7. Phone: 8. Harmony remote PID (Found within the battery compartment): 9. Harmony remote P/N (Found within the battery compartment):   In addition to the above information, we will require digital photos of your Harmony remote's LCD screen. When submitting your photos, I would ask you to follow the guidelines outlined below:   1. Please place a piece of paper beside/underneath the remote with your reference number 110519-001728. 2. Set digital camera to Macro. 3. Ensure your Harmony remote is powered on. 4. Take 2 pictures. One with the remote powered on and the other with the remote powered off. 5. Take images from twelve inches directly above the remote, featuring the LCD display. 6. Submit the digital images as a jpeg. 7. Ensure the file size is on the smaller side, but the digital image allows us to view the remote's LCD screen. 8. Ensure the filenames are short and in one-string. i.e. remoteimage.jpg remoteimage2.jpg 9. Submit the digital images as an attachment with your reply and do not paste the image inline. 10. Please don't use the flash.
harmony900_whitescreenNote that they never asked where I bought the remote and they are making excellent use of technology by having me send them pictures of the problem rather than having me pay to ship the item back to them for them to confirm that it’s doing what I said it was.  So, I took the pictures and sent the info as requested.  I then expected to get the email back that said “it appears that you actually have a problem, please send the remote back to us and we’ll fix it or send you another one.”  Note the case.  This is what I got back…
Dear Richard, Thank you for contacting Logitech Customer Care about your Universal Remotes Your Return Merchandise Authorization number is: RMA 110519-001728 Your order has been submitted for processing today. You will receive the tracking number in 1 -2 business days We do not require you to return the defective unit. Please note that your original defective unit has been disabled from our system. Any update on this product is not possible. You can use it with the existing configuration until you receive the replacement product. Kindly dispose of the unit after you receive the replacement product. If you have any questions about your RMA or this process, please reply to this e-mail. Thank you for your patience.
WOW!  They’re just going to send me a new remote.  Easy as that.  No 500 questions or paying the shipping fees or anything.  They’re just going to stand behind their product and provide true customer service.  That is what I call “Customer Care”.  Also, notice again the wonderful use of technology.  Because all of the settings for the remote are kept on their website and that’s the only way to program the remote, they are able to use that technology to disable my old remote and therefore prevent people from taking advantage of the system and re-selling damaged remotes or faking a good remote as a damaged one.  Because they can do this they’re saving me the cost of shipping and them the cost of handling the remote once its returned.  A truly wonderful solution.
But wait…there’s more.  So, 2 or 3 days later I get a box in the mail from Logitech.  I thought, “wow!  that was fast!” and proceeded to open the box expecting to find just a remote.  Again, they exceeded all my expectations.  Inside was a full retail boxed product – remote, charging base, battery, power cords, USB cord, RF repeaters – everything.  So, now I have an extra battery and charging dock if those should fail.  The old RF repeater doesn’t seem to work with the new remote so I had to swap that out.  However, I’m not convinced that I couldn’t get it to work if I should ever need to utilize an extra repeater.
So, that’s my experience that I wanted to share and spread some of the love I recently received from Logitech.  Although, historically, I’ve not been big fan of Logitech (I always buy Microsoft mice & keyboards) that has changed.  I’m now their biggest fan and will be checking out their other products first when I need more electronics.
My hope in writing this is that other companies will take notice and follow their example and try to focus more on trying to produce better “customer care” solutions that provide a better experience (and more loyal customers) and fewer “customer service” solutions that actually serve the company’s bottom line more than they serve the customer.
Go Logitech!
[8/26/2011 UPDATE]
Unfortunately, the replacement remote quit working and I had to go through this procedure again.  It was just as easy the second time around and I have nothing but wonderful things to say about Logitech support.  Unfortunately, I don't know that I can continue to sing praises about the Harmony 900 remote.  When it works it's the best thing since sliced bread.  But, it seems to have some quality issues in the electronics and for what it costs it should either be much more reliable or have a much longer warranty.  Unfortunately, there really aren't any other options for RF universal remotes in the same price range.  If you know of any, please link to it in the comments.


jl said...

I had a similar experience with a defective mouse. They just sent a new one without any hassle, and most surprisingly they didn't require me to send the old one back. It's definitively a nice change from the support that most companies provide.

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