Thursday, July 12, 2012

Customer Service Clinic: A Case Study from Sears

I've told the story 100 times about how, maybe 20-25 years ago, I was standing in the tools department at Sears when this guy comes in carrying a tape measure in his arms. The spring in it had obviously sprung and it was all over the place. He sat it on the counter and the clerk left for a minute and came back with a new one, handed it to the guy and he left. They didn't even speak.

That, I thought, was just about as good as customer service gets.

Today--at Sears--I got a personal dose of that service and mentioned to the sales clerk, a guy named Tom Elmore, that "this is the Sears I remember." He smiled.

What happened was this: About six days ago, I bought an 18-inch electric chain saw at Sears. It's a good saw, one we cut up a tree with this morning in no time. We had no problem at all until the end of the cutting, when the saw gasped, then stopped, completely locked up. We finished the job with a gas-powered saw that one of the boys who was working with me brought.

I took the electric saw back to Sears as soon as we finished the job and met Tom at the counter. He'd sold it to me and I told him what happened. "It probably burned out," he said. "What kind of cord were you using?" I told him and he said, "That's too small. It needs at least a 12-gauge, probably even an 8. With the small cord, it doesn't get enough juice, works too hard and burns out." But he didn't hesitate. He went into the back and brought me a new one. I bought a 12-gauge, 100-foot cord to go with it (as it turned out, the cord was on some kind of silent half-price sale).

I made out like a bandit with a retailer who knows how to make a customer happy. I've been shopping at Sears for about 45 years. I will shop there for another 45, given the opportunity. These guys are a clinic in customer service.

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