Vacation for the PC repair man

I have used PCs for many years. The first one, way back in 1986 was a “genuine” IBM PC XT [10M hard drive and 640K memory – it did the job]. Since then, I have used and owned machines from a number of manufacturers, but there is one that has become my firm favorite. It is also the preferred supplier to Mentor Graphics. I am not going to name them here [they are rich enough to pay for their advertising] – all I will say is that they were the first large PC vendor who built their business on direct sales to end users.

I have written on previous occasions [here for example] about being impressed by exemplary customer service. A while ago I heard a story that gave me a clue as to why this PC vendor is so successful …

I was attending a seminar at a hotel in England. I cannot recall anything much about what was being presented, but I do clearly remember a story told by the instructor. He told us who his favorite PC supplier was – the same as mine. He was particularly impressed by their support. He had phoned them a couple of times and always got a good response. A few weeks before this seminar he had moved to France, only returning to England from time to time to present seminars.

One day, his PC developed a fault. It was something non-critical like the diskette drive, but he phoned to arrange repair, as he was covered by warranty. The agent on the phone confirmed that he was covered for the repair, but was very apologetic because they could not carry out the repair in France, as he had purchased the machine in the UK, but they would be more than happy to come out to a hotel if he happened to be in England again soon. He was quite pleased with this flexibility and resolved to take advantage of the offer in due course.

A couple of days later, there was a knock at the door. It was the PC repair man. He had spotted that report of the call and realized that he was almost passing the door on his way to his vacation in the South of France. So, he collected the parts and decided to drop by. In 10 minutes the machine was fixed and as good as new. The repair man’s family were in the car, but they were soon invited in for lunch by the extremely satisfied customer.

I wonder how many people this instructor has told this story to and how many passed it on [as I am to you today]. It probably gets into the hundreds, maybe thousands. What can we learn from this tale? We can not assume that this company gives this level of service to every customer, of course. But, by doing it just once, they got a level of promotion that would cost thousands of dollars to achieve by other means. I think that is a good lesson to learn.

Have you got any good stories of great customer service that you would like to share? Please comment or email so that we might all enjoy them.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at https://blogs.sw.siemens.com/embedded-software/2010/01/21/vacation-for-the-pc-repair-man/