Be Good Not Bad by Brian Warren

27 January 2005

Customer Support, the Exception or the Rule?

About nine months ago, I bought a headlamp from L.L.Bean. After a few months of use, it broke. The little clips that hold the lamp onto the strap just broke off. Despite the broken nature, I could still use it with a little fiddling. I always told myself: Hey, L.L.Bean stands behind the stuff they sell, I should get them to send me a new one.

So, in anticipation of wanting to bring it on our forthcoming trip across the Atlantic, I called up L.L.Bean.

(Ring, Ring) “Thank you for calling L.L.Bean, this is Verne, how can I help you?”

This always catches me off guard. I’m used to calling companies and getting a computer routing me to the “right” department. Every time I call L.L.Bean, no matter what time of day, I someone picks up the phone.

I explain my situation with the headlamp, and Verne apologizes that it broke and offers to send me a new one. That’s right, he apologized. Maybe if L.L.Bean had made the headlamp, an apology would seem well-placed. It’s not his fault. It’s not even L.L.Bean’s fault. Still, he’s taking responsibility for L.L.Bean selling me a product that was faulty. That’s classy.

So, my new headlamp will arrive today, no charge. I’ll send back what’s left of the old one with their pre-paid shipping label. Do I feel taken care of? You bet. Did L.L.Bean have to go through an extreme amount of effort to do that? No. They just have the right attitude about it, and it makes a difference.