One of my hobbies is photography. I love taking pictures, processing them, and creating something beautiful. This even extends to things like the camera body and the sound of the shutter.
I've been a Nikon fan for years and have spent a significant amount of money on gear. Recently, a lens of mine was damaged after the tripod it was on fell over, rendering it useless without repair.
I sent the lens in to Nikon, expecting that it would be repaired, then returned to me. What followed was a deep dive into the confusing world of grey market products, obscure policies, and unbending support.
Customers Only Want 2 Things
This experience was enough to turn me from a Nikon promoter to a detractor. In one of my classes, we teach that customers only want 2 things: solve my problem and leave me feeling great about the experience. The reason why I became a detractor is because Nikon failed on both counts.
Some of it was their inability to solve my problem. They said because the lens had a serial number from Canada, they wouldn't work on it. I understand not doing warranty work, but I have a hard time understanding a company that has the parts and the expertise turning me and my money away because I didn't understand the vagaries of their support policies and what determines if a lens is grey market or not.
While this was enough to turn me from a promoter to neutral, the responses from Nikon's repair team turned me into a detractor. Not only did they not leave me feeling great, they left me feeling like the company doesn't care at all whether I stay with them, following up honest inquiries with restatements of policy and no apologies about anything.
What's the lesson for your company?
If you can help a customer, do it. They don't understand your corporate structure, they came to you because they wanted to work with you on one level or another. If there are policies that get in the way of that goal, work on eliminating them to reduce any friction during the crucial time when they are forming an opinion of your company.
If you can't help a customer, don't spout the corporate line. Put yourself in their position and leave them feeling that you care about them. You may still lose the sale, but you have a far better chance of keeping them neutral or as a promoter instead of a detractor.