The Case of the Scratched Part, A Whodunit/Time Suck for the Ages

In honor of the fabulous Fred Willard

When we talk of customer experience it is mostly related to the time when we are face-to-face with our customers, when we have a bit of control over the situation. But what happens if a situation arises when we are not by our client’s side? This is the moment of truth. The moment that we can show off our customer service and remove all that FRICTION.

For example, a large remodel is wrapping up right on time for the homeowners to host their daughter’s wedding. The plumber is trimming out the master bathroom. They open a box that contains a large part with a mysterious deep scratch and needs to be replaced. However, the product is handcrafted with a 6 to 8 week lead time. The clock is ticking, and time is not on anyone’s side. 

The plumber calls the showroom and is asked how it happened. Who did it? Not, let me call the vendor and see how fast we can get a replacement. DPH showrooms want to play Sherlock Holmes and find out who is guilty in “The Case of the Scratched Part”. Finally, after some very raucous back-and-forth, the showroom calls the vendor and they also want to know how such horrible disrespect for their handcrafted and lovingly packaged product occurred. Everyone is in lynch mode. All this accomplishes is increased FRICTION, damaging both the showroom and vendor brands.

All the plumber wants to do is get the part and get off the job. All the builder wants to do is wrap up the build and turn the home back to its owners. And all the homeowners want is to resettle in their abode and prepare for the big event. Does it really matter who is guilty? Is it worth the time to find out who damaged a $200 part? What about a $1000 part, which is more likely with a custom ordered piece? Let’s not lose sight of the reason we open our doors every day and why our customers choose us.

The word-of-mouth damage that the plumber, builder and homeowner can inflict on the vendor and showroom is substantial. But the benefit they can do is tremendous, if they know you’re there to help make it right. Why not eat the part and use this as a PR win? Look like a hero!

May I propose a new process for a field-damaged part:

  • When a call comes into the showroom, the first step is to properly identify the problem, agree on what is needed and understand the timeline.
  • When the showroom explains the situation to the vendor, the vendor investigates when the product can be made or assists in locating it and gives a firm ETA.
  • The showroom informs the plumber with the part information and makes any other follow up calls as deemed necessary to the parties affected.
  • The vendor delivers the part as promised.

Simple…Right? Decrease FRICTION, increase TRUST.

According to Narvar’s 2018 Consumer Returns Report, 89% of repeat customers who have a good return experience are likely to buy again. Offering a pleasant return experience can potentially improve your retention rate and increase revenue! 

A few decades back, management was charged to make every company division a profit center. In fact, for quite some time, one plumbing manufacturer’s replacement parts sales were contributing a very high percentage to its bottom line. In a spreadsheet world I can understand that, but it does not help to build trust in the brand. PR, good or bad, does not show up as a black-and-white number in a spreadsheet but it does strongly influence the sales numbers. 

Save your teams huge aggravation and gain a lot of positive word-of-mouth trust. Please repeal the process to investigate and punish the perpetrator in “The Case of the Scratched Part”.

A version of this posting appeared in the May 22, 2020 version of DPHA Connections.

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