VIZIO TV - A Textbook Illustration of Bad Customer Service!
Many business success stories are built on uncompromising customer satisfaction. For example, Nordstrom offers quality products and have built their business by offering amazing customer service. Nordstrom will bend over backwards to make sure doing business with them is an exceptional experience. Their business philosophy enables them to sell their merchandise at higher price points.
The fast-growing VIZIO TV company has built their business by selling low-cost, flat panel HD TVs in a rapidly growing market. They have created a name for themselves offering value competing with more established quality brands. VIZIO has won a number of prestigious titles and earned rave reviews. That's good for them, but through my recent encounters trying to resolve a problem with a defective product, I have come to realize that offering customer satisfaction is not something VIZIO is likely to win an award for. Full disclosure, I've had a bad experience and while it won't be resolved favorably with VIZIO, it makes a great business story.
Here's what happened: My grandmother bought a 22" VIZIO L.E.D. TV from Costco. The TV has had an intermittent problem with a straight vertical blurry line that appears on the screen. It's an occasional problem that initially we thought would take care of itself. It hasn't.
My grandmother is now facing major surgery and will be laid up for 3-4 months. Since the blurry line issue is not getting any better and we missed the 3-month electronics return window at Costco, we are now dealing directly with VIZIO customer support to solve the problem. They have asked us to take a picture of the line so they could evaluate the problem and determine if a technician needs to repair the TV or if they should replace it. I explained that the blurry line is intermittent, so capturing a picture is problematic on our end. It was there for a day last week and not there this week.
The sell price of this TV is $269.00. The manufacturer's cost of the TV is in obviously somewhere in the $100.00 range. In one of our discussions, a representative at VIZIO acknowledged there is a defect with the TV. They won't do anything about it, however, because their "policy" requires them to have this picture of the "elusive blurry line" prior to taking care of their defective TV.
So, what is the price of customer good will? In the case of VIZIO, it's not worth the cost of this TV. Instead of just replacing the TV and making a customer happy, they are instead wasting everyone's time while waiting for the blurry line to return when Grandma has a camera in hand. As a business owner, I fully understand the importance of having policies and procedures in place. But aren't there times when taking care of the customer is more important than an inflexible policy? Especially when solving the problem would appear to be a no-brainer. They acknowledge that the TV is defective. This isn't a case were the customer would benefit from lying. Grandma just wants the TV she bought to work.
There is a happy ending! In a textbook example of outstanding customer service, Costco rose to the occasion and stepped outside the lines to take care of this, by issuing a credit for the VIZIO TV. My grandmother now is very happy with her new Samsung L.E.D. TV and of course has told all her friends at the Senior Center how great Costco is and how much grief she went through with VIZIO prior to a stressful surgery. She's one feisty lady... and is ready take on her surgery knowing she can watch Wheel of Fortune on a quality TV!
So, how does this relate to our businesses? I'll always remember something I learned from SnugZ USA during a PPAI Leadership Conference. In a small group discussing business challenges and customer service issues, one supplier commented that he knew distributors were lying about problems on an order just to get some sort of a "deal." That's frustrating of course, but the response from SnugZ USA's CEO, Brandon Mackay, MAS was memorable. Brandon said they don't waste time with these issues. He explained that SnugZ USA empowers their Customer Service Reps to make the choice they feel is best and move on, adding that there is only so much capitol they can put in a day and it's not productive to waste it. This policy has reduced stress for the CSR's and created a more pleasant work environment. Brandon recalled that in reality, any adjustments they conceded to were a minimal loss and not worth worrying about.
SnugZ USA is clearly a company in our industry with a very positive reputation. To make this point, at the ASI Show in San Diego, two people, one right after the other, came up to share about their experience with SnugZ USA. Since I always have a video camera, I recorded their testimonials. Click here for the SnugZ Raving Fans video. You couldn't orchestrate a more honest reaction to how SnugZ USA takes care of their clients. SnugZ USA doesn't operate from a script and they have the ability to think outside the box to make raving fans. Clearly, this is something VIZIO is unable to do. Are you able to create raving fans?
When something goes wrong, as can happen in our industry, do you see it as an opportunity to turn a negative to a positive? Whether you are a distributor or a supplier, stop and consider the ways you can have awesome customer service and maintain loyal clients that will not only continue to do business with you, they will recommend you to their colleagues. As consumers we get to choose the products and services we buy. If you are looking for an inexpensive TV then VIZIO is certainly an option for you. If you want to do business with a company that cares about taking care of their customers, then I don't recommend buying a VIZIO.
Obviously I am not the only one with bad customer service experiences. Here is a great customer service story that we can learn much about. Musician Dave Carroll's "United Breaks Guitars" video has received over 10 MILLION views to date. It's catapulted his career and created one of the best business stories of recent times. It's funny, it's relevant and shows the power we have as consumers. Click here for the full story, and a variety of relevant links on what surely will become a classic business tale.
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