Customer Service: an all or nothing experience…

Here is a little story: in August 2013, I purchased a Sony Vaio laptop. This was based on having one previously and liking it enough to not even look around too much; I went straight for the same brand, just a more modern version of the same laptop. I was happy with it and I like(d) the brand.

But then, in February 2014, much less than I year since my purchase, the computer simply stops working. I call Sony to send it back and a very nice gentleman takes the call. I explain what happened and he tells me that he needs to run some tests first. I tell him that I can only do this later on that day, so he arranges to call me back. Before the end of the call, he asks if I can answer a short survey about his service. I say yes, of course, and he puts me through to it. Some questions were about him, for which I gave a high score and some questions were about Sony in general and, considering that my laptop of less than a year was already giving me trouble, I am not, at this moment in time, too impressed with the whole brand experience, which is of course reflected in my scores.

That evening, the same staff member calls me exactly at the time we agreed, tries to run the tests (which do not work because of how knackered my computer seems to be) and then gives up, saying that the best thing will be to collect the laptop for fixing. He takes my details and everything is arranged. So far, so good. However, at the end of the call, he asks why I scored him so low on the survey. I then explain that I didn’t score him low, I scored Sony low.

At that point, I thought that asking the question was more than ok, as he just wanted my feedback. However, he just went on and on about the questions being ALL about him and that he couldn’t understand why I was scoring him so low. I said to him that if the questions were meant to be just about him, the questionnaire was incorrect and they were wording the questions in a misleading way. He insisted that I had scored him too low, and I insisted that I answered the questions that were asked of me. Seriously? He sounded like a scorned lover. Not good. I suggested to him that he needed to feedback what I was saying to higher management, as that survey was not serving its purposes and, quite frankly, he was upsetting me by doubting my answers. No customer wants to have their answers questioned. I was honest and that was it.

Customer service is an ‘all of nothing’ kind of thing. You either cover all of your touch points to give the customer a seamless experience, or you risk damaging their opinion of your brand because of one person that perhaps couldn’t be bothered that day. Yes, I know, it doesn’t sound very fair. After all, everyone has bad days now and then. However, professionalism needs to be at the top of mind of any employee. Unfortunately, a ‘broken’ experience, where half the people are extremely professional and the other half are not, WILL damage your brand, which is why getting the right staff and the right training is so important.

As for my ‘Sony saga’, my laptop has been fixed, but I have to say that I will definitely think twice before buying Sony again. I will probably risk getting a laptop from another brand, just to see how it goes. And this is exactly the kind of risk that a brand shouldn’t want to take because, once you switch, you may never go back.

Marilia Spindler is an Account Manager and creative thinker at Happy Creative, a strategic marketing and branding agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go

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