CUSTOMER SERVICE THAT GOES BEYOND, VERY CREATIVE.

Absolutely amazing! That was my reaction tonight upon awakening from my little sleepy after work. Once in a while I will have to close my eyes for an hour or two when I get home from work. As today’s load was rather grueling, it caught up to me once I sat down to relax.

I can’t put into words the shock as I went into the kitchen and saw the little packet on the kitchen table. It was from FedEx. Not a big deal in itself, but the speed in which it was sent off and with which it arrived was truly amazing. Let me explain.

A few months ago, I purchased a Creative Labs Zen Nomad mp3 player. After extensive online research into the features and popularity of many mp3 players, as well as customer feedback in some electronics newsgroups and my own personal experience with Creative Sound Labs in my personal computers at home, I settled on a brand that offered much more than the competition.

My Nomad has a staggering 30GB of memory, which is enough to store pretty much every song that I have ever heard and would want to hear again. Its range of playback options is extensive, including playlists which I can create, random playback of all or some of the tracks, playback by artist, genre, or album. The list goes on. It has a rechargeable battery, thus no repetitive battery purchases. As well, unlike much of its competition, the unit does not require factory personnel to change the rechargeable once it becomes non-functional. You can do it yourself.

What does all this have to do with Conservative Joe? Well, as consumers, we all love to do our griping. I think that as responsible consumers, we should also pass along in a big way when we have a good experience, and that is what I wish to do.

While I was wearing my MP3 player yesterday, I accidentally damaged one of the accessories which I opted for. I went online to see about ordering a replacement. As I couldn’t locate the item of interest in Canada, I resorted to the Creative Labs website. Once there, I quickly located the part in question. All was not well, however. As I resided in Canada, there was going to be a hitch. What that hitch was isn’t important, but what happened next was.

I found the 1-800 number provided for customer care and dialed it. The young lady on the other end was not only polite, but was sincere as well. The call was quite unlike the experience that I have had with some other companies. After all was said, my problem was still not resolved. I then took a few moments to email the customer care manager. I explained my dilemma and my feelings regarding the situation. I remained positive, but to the point.

If anyone out there knows much about electronics, they will realize that Creative Labs is no small firm. It has grown in leaps and bounds over the years, and now I know why. Customer service. I emailed Creative at 3:17 pm. I received a reply at 4:17pm. Very impressive. Not only was I not stonewalled or simply excused, I was told that the item in question was shipped as a courtesy. Wow. Tonight, in less than 24 hours, the item arrived. From California to Courtice, Ontario which is just east of Toronto and outside of the major business center, and still the item arrived at my home in less than 24 hours from the time that I was told it was on its way..

As a mailman, I am impressed. As a customer, I am now a lifetime customer. For a part that probably cost Creative Labs next to nothing, they have solidified my relationship with them. What a multi-million dollar advertising contract could not do, nor will ever do, one person has done simply by doing the customer right.

If I wrote a story for every time a major company has lost me as a customer over peanuts, I would have to start a new site. Why is it that so many corporations fail where Creative has excelled? Is it disdain for the average customer or simply unawareness to the profound impact that one very simple decision can have?

I am not going to remain a loyal Creative customer because of their excellent products. That is what made me a return customer. I will remain a loyal customer because they have earned my respect. As a spin off to the part that was sent, I will continue to persuade my friends, whenever they ask me about which computer to purchase, to ensure that it has Creative Sound onboard. Word of mouth is one of the best ways for companies to remain successful. They say a dissatisfied customer can drive 5 more away. What about a completely satisfied one? I hope I can bring them more than 5.

It is really too bad that more companies cannot see the connection between retaining a customer base and success as opposed to hooking them one time. I recently had major problems with a 4 year old North American car. As I live down the street from their Canadian head office, I took the vehicle right into their office, along with an assortment of defective parts which already had to be replaced. Upon arriving, I told the receptionist that I wished to speak to someone about my vehicle.

A short while later, I sat across from a wonderful lady whose job included smoothing back my hair and keeping me docile. After explaining all of the problems that I had experienced, I was offered a discount on another new car. As if. She stated that sometimes cars simply need to be replaced. When I asked her whether she thought that a $30,000 car should last more than 4 years, she said yes. I then stated that I didn’t believe her company, General Motors, was even interested in helping me. I was polite but to the point.

She assured me that she would look into my problems and would get back to me. The very next day I received a call back. It was the nice lady. She said she understood my frustration, but taking into account the car’s age and the mileage, there was nothing that they could do. Now, this may seem like a normal response, but when one figures that one of my complaints was that I no longer could read the odometer as it was defective, you have to wonder how the nice lady knew that there were too many kilometres on the car to help me.

I got a standard response that failed to treat me like an individual car buyer. It was insincere and its purpose was to make me go away. The result? At 38 years of age, I am now determined to never, ever, ever buy another G.M. product. The cost to have kept me? Probably a few bucks to the automaker. The cost in lost future revenues? Probably 5 or 6 cars over the rest of my life minimum, plus the ripple effect of telling the story to others, such as you right now.

While I don’t expect every company to hand me something, I do expect to at least truly be heard. In the case of my car, I really believe that the product was sub-standard. I had a valid point, which was backed up by people I know in the auto repair industry. I have lots of things break and simply realize that it’s a fact of life, but some things should simply last a little longer than 4 years.

What a contrast these two experiences make. One company, to its own detriment, simply excused me. I am gone, for life. With all of the money some major firms spend to attract customers, it is so sad that they fail to keep them for a few peanuts. The other company? Its representative spent a few peanuts to keep me. Not because they had to or even because they should, but simply because I came across as a respectful customer and presented my case in a positive light.

In the end, it was the manager’s discretion in both cases. Creative Labs passes the test and I therefore recommend that anyone who is interested in an MP3 player, sound card, or many other home and computer audio products to check out their website at www.Creative.com.

To Lara, please accept my utmost gratitude. Not only for the parts, but for your willingness to do so, and for reaffirming my decision to once again buy Creative Labs products.