True Customer Service- How To Make Or Break Your Brand


I received an order of books and DVDs about two weeks ago from Amazon. One of the hardcover’s bindings was damaged. I sent in a return request as I expect to use the book a long time as it is my second copy. Their automated system asked me to return the book.

This morning, I received an email from Amazon saying keep the book or feel free to give it away, as we will send you another one no charge. Actually, I think about another company called CBD, their customer service is also excellent. I had similar issues in the past and they just sent a replacement copy. That is CS, customer service, at its best. Why? As a customer I was satisfied. I will go definitely go back to them and buy more.

In December, I bought a Tumi bag for work. It is my third bag from them. I remember, the first bag’s shoulder strap wore out and was looking a bit tacky and worn after about a year. I went to get a replacement, but was told I would be charged. I used the bag a bit longer and then decided to trash the bag. In the six months I’ve had the new bag, it’s ‘revolutionary’ zippers got caught on my suit pants twice. Unfortunately, the second time it ripped them as it got caught on the belt loop.

I was on the train for 30 minutes with a bag caught on my trousers. I got back to the office, to get someone to help me carefully remove the caught bag. All the way, with a Tumi bag stuck on my shoulder. (Now you know how those pack mules that go into the Grand Canyon feel). In the process, my suit got ripped as someone at the office tried to release me from the bit of this bag. I was very disappointed.

My PA (personal assistant) took the bag to the nearest Tumi store in Marunouchi. She explained the situation and explained that the boss was not too pleased with how easily the zippers caught on clothing. The store attendant said she was sorry to hear about it (this is common in Japanese) but clearly didn’t plan on doing anything about it. My PA said she needed to give me a report and wanted to know what Tumi would plan on doing about it as her boss concluded it was a design flaw that cost him a suit. The store attendant reluctantly promised she would get back to her.

Yesterday the woman called and said she and the store manager concluded that the problem occurred because of the “customer’s misuse of the product… “ What a great way to make your customer feel good.

Excuse me? I didn’t realize you could run windows on a Tumi bag or change the settings and damage the hardware. This is a bag with a shoulder strap you put over your shoulder.

I was literally “ripped off” by Tumi’s pathetic customer service person. You say, what do you mean? They could have done a number of things to make the customer feel good. But all they did was insult a repeat customer. The kicker is they said they would fix the bag with a new zipper that would not catch on clothing. Is that an admission of guilt or what?

Is Tumi a bad company? Absolutely not. I am sure they are a good company, otherwise they would not have made it this far. However the point is one of your CS people can not only kill your business, but if it becomes a prevalent attitude, they can destroy your brand.

Were they expected to pay $900 to replace a suit? No, not really. However, they dropped the ball as a customer service firm. While dropping it, they actually lost a repeat client in the meantime. They could have made a special arrangement for the purchase of another bag, given a brand new bag without these ‘revolutionary’ zippers, refunded the price of the bag , or any number of other things to keep their client.

Customer Service is essential to building your brand. It is not just about losing business. At this point they lost a fan. If your CS team is doing this to one customer, you can be assured they are doing it to others. That is why every customer facing person in your organization is so important to your business future. They can make or break you.

I know Coach Japan has an awesome customer service team that is clearly well managed. It looks like I better stick with someone I know and get my Coach briefcase out of the closet.

One reply on “True Customer Service- How To Make Or Break Your Brand”

Thanks for stopping by. I emailed the president of Tumi Japan on 7 July and explained the situation. When I ran across him in person he said that he got my email and would respond. I’ve not seen it yet, but he’s a good guy so I bet he’ll take care of it.

Got the bag back yesterday (22 July) with a brand new “anti-clothes eating zipper”. It will be interesting to see what happens on this. I hate to use products I don’t believe in.

“With individuals, you can really see what people are made of when they get pressed or upset. On the corporate level, you can really see what a company is made of by their CS (Customer Service).” That’s my thought on CS.

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