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Friday, 26 March 2010

The Lasting Effects of Quality

I wanted to use two stories the show how different views towards providing quality product or service can leave a lasting impression on your customers.

Some five years ago we bought a settee from Laura Ashley. It was quite expensive for us but we liked the design so we bought it. The company also offered a five year guarantee. After nearly five years one of the legs of the settee failed. We phoned up Laura Ashley who promptly set out their customer service representative to look at the situation. On her arrival she had agreed without hesitation that yes indeed the settee was faulty and she would have arranged to have it replaced. Cheekily I asked if he would be possible to change the material on the replacement setting since the old material clashed with our new decor and didn't appear to wear that well. The customer service lady said that wouldn't be a problem and we would only have to pay for the difference in grading of the new material as compared to the old material. Eight weeks later our new settee arrived. Since then, and whenever we can afford it we buy Laura Ashley products.

By contrast when we first got married we went to a very friendly and cheaply priced furniture store called Cantors; which by the way, sadly no longer exists. We bought a lovely settee at a cheaper price. The company arranged to deliver it within six weeks. We were duly informed it was ready for delivering, about 3.30 PM I've got a distressed call from my wife yes the settee have been delivered but it was quite big and the delivery men had struggled to get it into a hall. At which point they said the settee had been "delivered" and promptly left, effectively blocking the front door as an exit to the house. So on my return from work I spent an hour or so struggling to get the settee from the hall into the lounge and set up. We did love that settee, but we never did buy anything else from Cantors again.

The moral of this story, is of course, that you get what you pay for. The reason why Laura Ashley could offer such a high quality service was because they had included it in the price of their product. It should be clear from this that as a business owner you can either provide limited customer service for a cheap price, or an excellent service at a high price. What you can't do is to provide an excellent service at a cheap price.

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