Small Business Marketing Blog

Customer Experience & Marketing

The experience your customer gets from your business has the ultimate effect on whether they will do business with you now or ever again. One difficult experience can offset the effects on all your good marketing you have done. Putting roadblocks in place cause dissatisfaction and a negative experience, no matter how great your service initially was. One bad experience will be spoken about more in blogs and on the Web than a 100 good experiences. We would hope it was the opposite but people speak out about negative experiences more freely than positive ones.

The Experience

I bought Cuisinart replacement filters for my coffee maker through Amazon which was fulfilled by SmallAppliance.com. The cost was under $20.

When the package arrived, two of the three boxes of filters were fine. In the third box, one of the filters was broken and the charcoal was loose inside the packaging. It was obvious that the filter was not broken during transit as the box and cellophane packaging was not opened or damaged.

I called SmallAppliance.com to get a replacement for the broken filter. I was told I had to take a picture and send it to them for proof of the damage so they could provide it to Cuisinart for them to get a refund. Then I was told that once I got the replacement I had to return the box with the broken filter.

I asked why for a $7 item I had to jump through hoops to get it replaced when most times the merchant just sends another and says keep the damaged item? Their answer was that they didn’t like it either but it was what Cuisinart required of them in order to get a refund for the damaged goods.

Ok, call me crazy but was this really worth my dissatisfaction for an item that may have cost Cuisinart 10 cents to make that was defective from the time it left their warehouse? Is this Cuisinart’s way of punishing distributors because they can sell the product cheaper than the manufacturer can (Cuisinart charged $10 vs. $7 from SmallAppliances.com for the single box of 2 filters)?

I’m letting SmallAppliance.com off the hook here only because I had to believe them when they said they had to do this to get a refund from Cuisinart. Plus they got points when the manager emailed me back when she got the picture and apologized profusely again about the inconvenience.

This return policy/process should be reviewed by the management of both companies. Was this really worth the effort for the negative feelings I have now? I love Cuisinart appliances, but I will now think twice before I buy another in the event I need to return a replacement part.

The Marketing Lesson

Review your processes you use with your clients. If they take more effort than they are worth, streamline or better, eliminate them. Make it as easy to do business with you as you can. When you are providing a service to your customers or clients (distributors are service businesses, not product businesses), make the entire experience one of your key differentiators that get you noticed over the competition.

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