Customer Service – What’s Old is New Again


Just over 25 years ago my partner Desiree and I decided to cement our relationship by purchasing two new sofas from a small furniture manufacturer called King Furniture. They had one showroom in Alexandria Sydney and had a reputation for producing some quality furniture. We wanted something that would last as we could not afford a home at this point, a pair of quality sofas was a measure of committiment to each other. We visited the showroom and purchased two beautiful leather sofas plus two ottomans that were “aubergene” in color, some people would call them purple.

Fast forward to March 2015. Desiree and I are still together, and yes our two “aubegene” sofas and ottomans still sit pride of place in our house. In fact this is the third house and is over 700 km’s away from the Alexandria showroom. The sofas have taken on a “magestic pattina” over the years as a result of kids, grand kids and a menagerie of pets and vistiors who have all lounged on the sofas.

A few weeks ago we had the unlucky occurance to knock one of the feet off one of the ottomans.

The foot was a sturdy plastic piece that had a number molded into the base. I thought what the heck, I will look up Kings on the Internet and drop them a note to see if they can help.

This was the start of a short but remarkable journey. In less than 12 hours I had a reply from “Lecia” from Kings inviting me to give her a call to see what we could do.

I called Lecia and explained my dilemma. After 25 years I had forgotten the name of the model sofa, she said just wait a second. She then proceded to pull up my original sales transaction, “just let me confirm your address” she said “to make sure I have got it right.” She then confirmed where we had lived over 25 years ago. “You purchased two sofas and ottomans is that correct.” I confirmed the details. “We discontinued this model many years ago, but I think I have a solution, just let me check with the boys out the back, I will call you back.”

I hung up the phone trying to reconcile what had just happened. Within a few minutes the phone rang, it was Lecia, “I just checked witth the boys and we changed the foot of this model when our parts maker changed from imperial to metric measurements, however if you make this slight adjustment this part will fix your problem.” She went on to explain the slight modification and then added “I have put 8 replacement feet into a post pack, can I confirm your new address”. I asked how much I owed her and she said “nothing”.

Within 3 days the replacement feet arrived and within 10 minutes the “lame” ottoman was back to new condition.

I am still in awe of this level of service, lets just deconstruct what happened here.

  1. 25 years ago the world wide web was less than 12 months old, ecommerce would not emmerge until 1994 and would not be really viable until 2000 when security protocols advanced to a point that made people feel safe.
  2. Point of Sale systems in retail stores where either manual or “land locked” proprietry systems.
  3. At some point in the last 25 years someone within the King Furniture organization realized that the legacy data held was valuable, but there needed to be a “key” to unlock this data. This key would no doubt come at a cost, but that cost was seen as an investment.
  4. Someone was charged with taking, who knows how many years of customer transactional and product model, component and spare parts data and putting into a form that can be accessed across the organization.
  5. A system was then deployed that would allow fast and seemless access to this data.

The result has produced a customer service tool and archive second to none. In a world where decisions are increasingly made on a “business case” basis, it is good to see a company that understands that the very nature of “business” means taking a risk. Investing in legacy data must have been seen as a risk, but today in a fast commoditizing retail world that risk is about to pay off in “spades”.

Long live the King………………

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