I recently bought a pair of Bluetooth sport headphones for my long runs. I love listening to podcasts when grinding out miles early on the weekends. Podcasts are more engaging than music to me, I don’t know what’s coming next, and sometimes I catch myself arguing out loud with the hosts. Podcasts take my focus away from any pain and they keep me from hearing myself sucking wind while working out. I feel bad for me when I hear myself running, sad. I need those wonderfully comfortable untethered headphones to enjoy my podcasts. Did I mention I like podcasts?
Now, think about how I felt, it was a little over a week from the half marathon and my headphones die. I mean, they just stopped. Powered down mid run. They were only four months old, what happened? When I got home I tried recharging them. I tried rebooting them. I tried begging them to work, it’s weird that didn’t have any effect.
I had to do what I didn’t want to do but what needed to be done, call customer service and have them honor the warranty. I called the number and got the standard, “Please listen carefully as our menu has changed.” The anxiety was building up, I knew it would be impossible to get a real person. I had my finger ready to hit “0” as many times as needed to get out of automated-answering-service hell. To my surprise “Speak to a customer service representative” was a choice! Cautiously, I pressed the number to speak to a representative ready to hear, “Ok, but let me ask you a few questions before connecting you.” Another surprise, it started ringing and the voice of a sweet older southern lady answered.
I told her the full story, including the importance of podcasts. She then explained standard protocol required me to send back the broken headphones, they would have to confirm defectiveness, then a new pair would be released to me from a warehouse in a different state. All in all, it’s about a three-week process. She assured me she’d do everything she can to help. And she wasn’t just paying lip service. She then put me on hold to talk to her manager. After a few minutes of elevator music, the southern angel came back on the phone and told me she got approval to blow up protocol. She e-mailed me a return label right away, I later dropped off the headphones at UPS and got the label scanned. With that confirmation, she called me to tell me she was able to get my new headphones released from the warehouse the same day! It went from a three-week wait to just a few days.
That’s customer service.
What I did next is something my wife teases me about. I could have ended it there and enjoyed the rest of my day, but I asked to speak to her manager to sing her praises. The sweet southern voice was shocked, and didn’t know what to do, so she put me on hold. Next, I heard a different woman’s voice saying she was the manager. Already, I could tell she was skeptical of what was on the other line. I told her how appreciative I was of both of their efforts and that they made my day. You could hear the smile on the other end, I’m glad to return the feeling they gave me.
I do this often when I get exceptional service and the response is genuine. Customer service seems like a tough field to be in, knowing you’ll get a call from someone who’s upset at something you had nothing to do with but they’ll take out on you. And aren’t we all in some form of customer service? We’re all creating work for someone to like or approve. As little or as often as they come, getting a “thank you,” a real “thank you,” is nice. Not a quick, “thanks!” as they walk by but the kind of appreciation that requires stopping and really thanking you. Those make the job worth it, those remind me of why I chose to do what I do for a living. So, to anyone that has had me as a customer, “thank you” for your help and especially your patience. I can drone on, like this story but I do love the sound of my voice and reading my own writing.
As for the more important part of the story, no, I did not receive my headphones in time for the run. Tracking showed they were arriving a day after but not for not trying. I did have to listen to my beloved podcasts like a regular person attached to my phone via wires. I felt so, common. I know those wires slowed me down at least 20 mins from all the wind drag.