Sprintz Furniture – Lessons from Poor Customer Service


Over the last several days my wife and I have been
underserved by a local furniture store. For context, we bought new furniture
for our living/gathering room in June. Our daughter bought a new house and so
we shipped all the furniture from that room to her. So since June this room has
been empty or we sit on dining room chairs. In early July the furniture store
informed us that our material was on back order and it would be a bit longer.
No problem, because of my work I understand backorders from overseas textile

Then the trouble began. We called the store and were
informed that the fabric was in the US and the company that manufactured our
new furniture (a U.S. company) had about a three to four week turnaround time.
After that call came silence.  We
had to continually be proactive and call the store. Our sales rep seemed to not
have any details, the problem escalated to an Assistant Manager and finally
after a lot of grief, multiple calls, angst and loss of patience, we’re getting
half of our order today.

What can retailers and other organizations learn from this

Communicate. When
there is a problem with a customer it’s a good thing to keep them in the loop.
Just a few proactive calls from our rep would not have solved the problems, but
would have assured us that we had a partner in this. It’s not the customer’s
job to seek updates and information.

Take responsibility.
Customers look to the retailer to solve problems and be their trusted agent in
the transaction. It doesn’t smooth any ruffled feathers for people to blame
something or somebody that’s outside the loop and whom we, as customers, can’t
contact directly. To play the blame game only makes the customer angrier.

Empower employees.
Employees need to be empowered to make decisions that best serve the
customer.  I have a friend who owns
a software business. He has one customer service principle for his support team
– “Take care of our customers.” That’s it. Each phone rep has the authority to
do what it takes. Unfortunately in our circumstance we had to wait for the
owner of the store to make some simple decisions. That wait was two days. When
you empower your employees to serve, customers get quick answers that make them
feel like you are part of the solution.

Make your initial
offer a good offer.
If you decide to do something to offset the customer’s
bill or payment, make it something of value to the customer, not just something
that is easy for you to deliver or perform. Look at the situation through the
customer’s eyes and ask what is the right thing to do from their perspective.
Don’t make it a negotiation. Do the right thing first.

Remember the
Retailers and others need to remember above all else that their logic
is not necessarily the same as the customer’s logic. Customers have a special
frame of reference that is unique to their specific needs or circumstances.
They see service as a total experience, not an isolated activity. Good service
is not about employees accomplishing tasks; it’s about the value provided to
the customer.

Stores and organizations that truly serve their customers,
like my friend’s software company, will find a way to be successful during both
good and bad times. With all the competition out there the customer is king and
companies with service policies and principles that don’t recognize that will
unfortunately come in second.


3 Responses to “Sprintz Furniture – Lessons from Poor Customer Service”

  1. The primary goal of the Consumer Advocate is to educate consumers on their rights. These rights are violated just because they are not properly trained or they are unaware of their rights. Even some people who are aware of their rights are too worried by the collectors to take action.

  2. Allen says:

    We are not as educated as consumers as we should be. Consumer advocacy is about educating people, which is what we do at http://www.letterchamp.com

  3. This is new to me. I am privileged to be updated about this issue.

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