The other day I had some wood delivered. I asked the guy how he’d got into the wood business. He told me he burnt a lot of wood for his own use, and so was forever ordering wood. He would insist on kiln-dried wood, but that wasn’t always what was delivered. In the end he got fed up with being letdown. He figured there must be a gap in the market for a wood company that didn’t lie.
Oh boy, his niche would be honesty.
That got me thinking about how important trust is. And also, how rare it is. I once left £50 at the hole in the wall. I was daydreaming. I told the bank manager and he put the £50 back into my bank account as a gesture of goodwill. That was 20 years ago. I am still with the same bank.
Recently, I stayed at a great hotel resort in San Francisco. I had ordered a taxi but after 15 minutes it still hadn’t turned up. I told the concierge. She was super annoyed with the taxi company. So she said she'd drive us all into town herself. As we got outside, we could see the taxi heading up the driveway towards us. She said they didn’t deserve our business, and insisted on driving us herself. On the way she told me that the resort had been voted in the top ten resorts in USA, but she didn’t know why. I knew why, and she was driving me into town.
The companies who are crazy good stand out because they are rare.
Conversely I bought a large-scale Canon printer from one of their reseller agents. From the first week, it never quite worked properly. It had a problem with yellow, which is a bit of a problem if you are printer. The repairman kept getting sent out, and each time the problem never seemed to go away. We spent more money on fixing the printer than the printer cost to buy. It still doesn’t work. The agent no longer returns our calls.
Then this weekend I walked into the Bose store. My noise cancelling headphones had stopped working in one ear. The staff told me if it wasn’t under warranty I’d have to pay £100 to get them working again. Like the printer, I would have reward them with more money for their product failure. Sorry Bose, I know your engineers are super clever but premium headphones should work for more than 2 years.
For me, I don’t understand bad service. Why wouldn’t you be on the customer’s side? Why would you go to all that trouble to get a customer just to let them walk away? Why would you want a customer just once and not for a lifetime? 99% of customers are good people. Yet, all the rules in place are to protect companies from the 1% who aren’t so good.
The best companies have figured that one at. They have realised most people are good. They give them the benefit of the doubt. Smart companies trust.