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Author Topic: Good customer service/ bad customer service  (Read 5712 times)

Tom Reid

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Re: Good customer service/ bad customer service
« Reply #20 on: January 18, 2005, 07:46:49 am »

Marc Schwartz wrote on Tue, 18 January 2005 04:54

Maybe I am wrong, but the focus of this thread seems to have veered away from the original poster's subject of being disappointed with a manufacturer's repair service. Like many here, I agree that the price erosion in the marketplace is bad for pro audio, but I also see that is an unavoidable economic reality, so long as having the lowest purchase price remains the buyer's driving force. Buyers will almost always buy from the source that provides them the cheapest price.
My complaint, and the one this thread started with is this: there are some manufacturers in pro audio that provide lousy tech support, charge too much for out of warranty repairs, or really don't care to serivce their product at all once they sell them. Most of us who have been around for a while are well aware of who they are, and I do not feel the need to name them here. I will give kudos to Peavey and Shure for their repair service and tech support. I continue to but their products because they have it right. Give the customer good value for the money, and back it up with good service, and they will keep coming back. That is a solid business philosophy, and it works.

-Marc

I agree with what you're saying Marc, and I agree with the original poster.  But I think the 2 concepts here aren't mutually exclusive.  One type of action spawns the other.  If the WWW and Conglomo music retailer didn't clerk Crown amps off the shelf at below MAP, a ton of newbies wouldn't be carrying them around by the binding post and throwing them in the back of their pickup, thus making them unusable, and having them sent back to Crown for their verison of the "warranty".  

I have had the chance to see the back room of a GC RMA pile.  I can imagine a newbie returning a product to GC telling them "it don't work" results in a clerk taking the box and throwing it on a pile.  They send tons of stuff back to manufacturers.  This action has to create an angst in the already understaffed service department.  Which in return alters the service freindliness of any company to the perceptions expressed above.      
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Karl Winkler

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Re: Good customer service/ bad customer service
« Reply #21 on: January 18, 2005, 10:29:30 am »

First, I want everyone posting and reading this thread to know that these points are exactly what manufacturers struggle over on a daily basis. To a large extent, service is a matter of attitude and personality. If there's a will there's a way. That being said, the point about the mass merchandising and it's effect on service is a valid one.

A big part of this is that most companies consider growth to be an important sign of financial health. But my question has always been: how much growth, and how fast? And perhaps, at what cost? If your growth outstrips your ability to maintain things like customer service, an intelligent distribution plan, and a stable pricing structure, then does it really make sense?

I would also implore manufacturers to "have a spine" when it comes to MAP and pricing issues. If you have something of value to offer (and any thriving manufacturer today does) then treat it as such. Certainly there is a delicate balance between compromising appropriately and giving away too much. However I think integrity from both sides (as a supplier and as a customer) is not rocket science. Again, a lot of it is about attitude

True: the "W*ll-M*art-ization" of the US is ever more prevalent and it certainly has reached the Pro Audio and MI worlds. That being said, there are definitely independant hardware stores, MI stores and pro audio retailers that remain successful by figuring out how to offer something that the big chains can't. Part of the key is to also figure out how to offer what the big chains CAN. Sometimes this is impossible, but usually there's a way. In some cases, though, it comes back to the manufacturers who offer discounts to large retailers that small players can't touch. In the past few years, some of these small retailers have banded together and formed buying groups - I think this makes sense.

And then, frankly, there are retailers that have caused their own demise by not shifting with the market. Doing the same old thing and expecting to survive is a recipie for disaster as most of us know too well.

For what it's worth, I appreciate the frank discussion here on these topics and will continue to read with interest.

-Karl
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John Roberts {JR}

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Re: Good customer service/ bad customer service
« Reply #22 on: January 18, 2005, 11:33:37 am »

I am inclined to challenge your suggestion that "To a large extent, service is a matter of attitude and personality". At least one mfr comes to mind who gained a major pricing advantage by not providing levels of service equivalent to it's competitors while it gained market share. Service cost money too, and that must come from the product price to be sustained. Some companies have chosen to spend their gross margin on service instead of advertising, and painfully watch their market share decline.

Lack of growth in an increasing market means you are losing market share. Lack of growth provides less opportunity for your employees to advance internally. Finally growth can compensate for other management sins like not laying off workers as processes become more efficient, etc. So yes, I suspect growth is a benchmark for financial success. Finally, mismanagement of growth, is harder to do than mismanagement of shrinking  Surprised  .

I have already offered more than I know about MAP. I am not convinced it's just a matter of the manufacturer blinking, but this is clearly my opinion and without factual basis.

While formal dealer buying groups have only been around maybe the last 10 years, informal group buys have been going on for much longer. In many cases the manufacturer can't possibly believe that a given dealer can absorb 100 microphones or whatever the deal du jour in their local market, but they are willing to look the other way to close the sale. Other manufacturer's are more diligent about protecting "all" their dealers against transshipping which erodes small dealer's pricing power and margins.

JR
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Jason Phair

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Re: Good customer service/ bad customer service
« Reply #23 on: January 18, 2005, 12:27:57 pm »

Haven't had any troubles with Crown, but did Telex fire all of E/V's customer service people when they bought them?  From what I've heard, they used to have a great reputation for service, but I have yet to experience this.
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Kent Clasen

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Re: Good customer service/ bad customer service
« Reply #24 on: January 18, 2005, 01:59:10 pm »

I couldn't agree more JR.  However, I think you can increase sales and have great service, like QSC for example.  

As an owner of a contracting firm and a former E/V+QSC rep for the 80/90s, I have seen many mfgs. try to remain profitable by any means possible, namely cheapen build quality, cutting rep commission %, and eliminating service depts or replacing people that worked for the company for 20yrs (like EV closing Buchanan plant) who actually CARED about the end customer and the reputation of their company and hiring any warm body (or voice mail box anyway).  

I think the mfgs. should realize the service department is also a sales department for many customers.  As noted by many sound companies here, and also by sound contractors who also put their name on line when they spec a particular brand or product.  If we look bad on a gig/install, due to a mfg. problem that can't be fixed quickly, we look bad.  Which keeps us from using their products again.  

The middle man (the rep) margin is getting squeezed too, which reduces their motivation AND their ability to hire the man power to properly service their dealers/contractors, which eliminates another arm of the service of mfgs.

If people feel strongly about this, spend money with the mfgs. that offer good products AND good service, at a FAIR price.
I personally don't use "disposable" gear.

I know there is a mind set of many people that think that the price is most important.  Sometimes it is.  But many times, the price is not the price, meaning you may pay for that cheap price down the road.

I hope that the audio industry doesn't become like the software industry, in which you can't actually speak to someone or ask a question without a credit card #.   The bad thing is people know and accept this as "OK". That is scary.

Rant off.

Kent
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John Roberts {JR}

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Re: Good customer service/ bad customer service
« Reply #25 on: January 18, 2005, 02:45:54 pm »

In case I haven't said this yet, the consumers are really driving this transition when they choose to favor the short term lower price benefit vs. longer term service support that cost more up front.

While I am not privy to QSC numbers the power amp market is pretty mature and most established players are defending market share against newcomers. I find it instructive (and probably smart) that QSC is dabbling in loudspeakers. Someday power amps may become obsolete if/when powered speakers become more popular, but speakers in some fashion will be around for a while longer.

Yes, the entire supply chain is getting squeezed for margin as old line companies try to maintain satisfactory levels of service and support while competing with newcomers playing by new rules. As more products become disposable, the concept of repair and service becomes an expensive feature not immediately obvious at POS.

I am glad I'm no longer in the middle of that storm, and I really wish the best for many old friends fighting the good fight. I don't see any easy answers.

It's perhaps ironic when these same customers gladly pay real money for bottled water and such, but aren't willing to invest a few bucks to keep their local dealers alive.

Life is a bitch and then you die.

JR
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Chris Cowley

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Re: Good customer service/ bad customer service
« Reply #26 on: January 18, 2005, 06:09:51 pm »

Friend of mine had an EV PL11 mic that had been sitting in his shed gathering dust/mould/rust/rabbit poo for about 10 years. He found it a couple of years back and remembered that, once upon a time, EV UK did a lifetime guarantee on all their mics (apparently).

He sent it to them and, a couple of weeks later, said mic was returned in full working order - no bill! This mic was basically re-built from scratch, all that is original is the grill and the casing - they even put a new XLR socket on.

It also sounds great and I quite often use it on hi-hats and it also suits my wife's voice quite nicely as well   Smile
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Chris Cowley

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Re: Good customer service/ bad customer service
« Reply #27 on: January 18, 2005, 06:17:48 pm »

Matt Lillie wrote on Tue, 18 January 2005 02:44

I could rant for days on this. I cannot tell you how many times someone walks in my shop, asks tons of questions, spends lots of time, gets all kinds of info, and goes out AND BUYS THE STUFF ON THE INTERNET!!!!!!!! I found out about two more today. Un-F$%^-ing-believable. I'm a little shop in the sticks carrying a pile of decent lines. I sell at MAP. There are places selling stuff for nothing. I lost a sale last week. The place sold an $1100 piece for THIRTY BUCKS profit. Before shipping. Why be in business?  


Our local drum shop used to have experiences like that (until he went out of business  Confused ). People would come in try a kit and like it. Then they go and buy it for less off the internet. Drum kit arrives and it doesn't sound as good the one they tried in the shop - why? Because our Gary personally tunes all the kits he sells and trains the would-be drummer how to tune them.

Of course when they came in and asked how to tune it (for free of course, it's only tuning after all) they got resounding "no!"
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