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Posts Tagged ‘Customer service’


Z for ZorroFor those who grew up blindfolded, hearing deficient, or otherwise completely detached from American ‘culture’ in the late 70’s and early 80’s, Zorro is a Mexican culture hero introduced to American audiences well before the 70’s but found his entertainment niche by bringing his swashbuckling Sonoran style of slice-and-dice to the big screen and did pretty well for himself until the second Banderas Zorro flick, Legend of ZorroMask of Zorro was actually entertaining, though.

Point here is Zorro used his blade with elegant efficiency and made significant inroads until Hollywood sucked at his teat one time too many (it’s a figure of speech — get over it). Sorry again, Mexico.

Why “again”? I like cheap “Mexican food” once in a while like any other properly raised American, but Taco Bell is as authentic as canned ham. And don’t even get me started on Cinco De Mayo.

So what’s the connection between a Mexican culture hero and Harry’s, an internet-based men’s shaving product company? Why, blades, of course.

Important Disclaimer: Neither Harry’s, Antonio Banderas, nor any Hollywood studio has provided any remuneration, material compensation, or free goodies for my mentions here. Seriously.

One day, while reading my Dictionary.com Word of the Day e-mail, I noticed the 80’s orange-colored banner across the top of the message, an ad for Harry’s men’s shave products. I don’t recall the actual wording of the ad but it touched a nerve which has long been sensitive–paying up the you-know-what for replacement blades (take note Gillette). Now, while I’m known for being frugal . . . well, let me approach this with a quick anecdote . . .

When I was seventeen I worked with a guy who said something I have never–and will never–forget: “I like intercourse, but I like to be in on it.”

Yeah. Buying replacement blades for an Excel or Fusion razor is similar to the aforementioned lack of consent.

So the Harry’s offer of some German-engineered blades and a shaving cream 50 Shades better than what i usually buy was a song I happily would listen to, all for about $15 I think it was.

Obviously Harry’s is taking a cue from Apple in regards to its packaging and marketing: simple, elegant, putting the product front and center. Opening the package when I got it was like opening the box containing my Mac laptop–akin to a black tie affair for the eyes and mind, simple and unpretentious, yet an unmistakable air of “you made the right choice”. I could hardly wait to try it out the next morning.

For two weeks I genuinely enjoyed using my first set of blades and the new cream. Then, something entirely unexpected happened–the razor head itself snapped on one side . . . while shaving.

This experience was utterly counter to my initial impression of the products. Words leapt to mind, some of which shall not be offered up here, but I knew I’d be writing a little note to Harry’s after work that day, because, I obviously have sort of a thing for words.

My puerile fantasy of sticking it to the Razor Blade Man seemed to be crumbling before my eyes, and even, sort of, on my face. I took a picture of the fractured blade head and attached it to the e-mail which read as follows:

Was with a solid dose of intrigue that I placed an introductory order, eager to see what German engineered blades and a much better shaving creme could do for my shaving regimen. Up until this morning I was enjoying both.

I had been considering passing along my early considerations of the products to dad, my son, and some of the guys I work with at Facebook here in Oregon—but this morning, my first blade—only been in use two weeks—snapped at one of the ‘hinges’ (see attached photo).

I had been shaving under my nose when the blade seemed to grab then halted mid-stroke. Thankfully I didn’t get cut, but I was dismayed to see the strut had snapped clean in two.

Is this to be expected in the course of normal use? I had expectations of more durability and longer use duration. I don’t use excessive pressure which might result in such a failure.

If such a curtailed life span is the norm then I should choose to withhold my earlier advisements to others.

Cordially,
J.W. Nicklaus

Frankly, I know I didn’t pay a lot for the initial package of three blades, new handle, and shaving cream, so I mostly expected some form of acknowledgment from Harry’s and a dutiful if not polite message regaling me with tales of manufacture defect or user error. Part of my expectation was spot-on–I did hear back from Harry’s, the very next morning:

Thank you so much for reaching out, and I’m so sorry that this has happened – the last thing we could ever want for our customers is an experience like this.

It’s a rare case that our products arrive in less than perfect condition, and it’s crucial that we know when they do so that we can do everything possible to avoid it from happening in the future. My suspicion here is that you were the unlucky recipient of a blade that was improperly packaged in transit, leading to excess strain on the rubberize cartridge arms and, ultimately, the breakage you experienced. It’s a problem we’ve worked hard to resolve, and I’d love to go ahead and send you a free 4 pack so you can give us another go with brand new (and hopefully improved) blades.

I’ll get those sent out to you right away, and I just hope we can fix this for you. We really want to improve your experience with us, and hope you will still consider passing this along to your son and friends at facebook. Apologies again!

Now, sure, you can see some things you would expect a company to say. It’s by no means boilerplate, but the foundation is solid. More importantly, an explanation was proffered and not just one replacement blade but four have been sent in return. Honestly, I hadn’t expected this, and was very pleased to not have received the usual “sorry bub” response, or worse, sent a lame coupon I’d probably have to print out to use.

I whipped out my trusty iPhone and dictated a reply, and as you will see, didn’t give it the proper once-over I should have:

Oh how many companies claim or desire to be on the forefront of customer service it has been my rear experience to encounter such companies.

I thought I would hear back from somebody at Harry’s, if only to, at the very least, acknowledge receipt of my email and the issue at hand. I hadn’t expected the rapid nature of your response nor the outright willingness to go the extra mile and make things right.

Thank you for your sincerity and genuine good will. It is very refreshing to do business with a company which clearly values each and every consumer, not a specific demographic alone.

Before I forget I would also like to order an extra bottle of the shaving cream — it’s really quite good although much higher tier than I usually use. But I do enjoy it so if you could, please, add a bottle to an order for me.

Not too much later, before I engaged my brain and actually read my own message, I received another reply gracefully thanking me for my (butchered) 2nd e-mail and surprising me with another generous gift–they added the tube of $8 shaving cream to the order . . . free of charge.

I thought the replacement blades a most generous and appropriate effort, from a consumer perspective; to throw in the tube o’ cream was like getting to lick the beaters after mom mixed up chocolate chip cookie dough or chocolate frosting–yeah, you know what I’m saying . . . a whole lot of awesome!

I could not possibly have been more pleased with my interaction with Harry’s; they had gone over and above what I expected, which is, of course, a solid tenet upon which to grow your company. I was feeling pretty darn good about the whole episode–until I reread my prior e-mail.

If you are not familiar with the following word then, clearly, you are barely human or simply haven’t done enough stupid things in life:
mortification: to humiliate or shame, as by injury to one’s pride or self-respect.

The only salve to soothe my bruised conscience was yet one more e-mail, a digital Hail Mary to try and regain personal yardage lost:

I am compelled by some strange form of grammatical OCD to correct a couple of my previous errors (not that you likely care but it shall serve to soothe the nagging English demon currently gnawing on my brain):

• It has not been my “rear” experience, rather it has been my rare experience… That was an auto correct issue and while truly worthy of a laugh it is ever so subtly disturbing.

• I wasn’t overly cautious nor attentive as I dictated my first email to you, as the next error will glaringly point out. I mentioned that Harry’s appears to be a company that values each individual consumer and not “merely a demographic.” That deserves a major DUH! Obviously Harry’s caters to men, which qualifies as a single demographic. But, I’m sure you understood what I was trying to say.

Not pretty or elegant, but it got the job done. I’m not proud of such oversights, so let’s just move on.

I have little doubt many companies, large and small, are employing the same quality customer service which Harry’s has displayed with me. Alternatively, many seem to find their customer base more a nuisance than a blessing, among them Sears, Comcast, DISH Network, Sprint, Bank of America, and JP Morgan Chase (these companies earned their consumer disdain as measured by the American Customer Satisfaction Index). Hardly surprising that most of us can easily recall instances when we were treated more like rotten fish than Neptune.

Here I gladly pronounce my thanks to Harry’s; they made me feel like I mattered. As good as it feels to really hold a bad company’s ass to the flames it feels equally good–and I believe equally important–to hold up good companies for doing right by their customers.

Zorro would understand this implicitly, no translation required.

**If you’ve read this far (and you appreciate a good shave, good products, and good customer service) be sure to check out Harry’s**

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