My friend purchased a desktop publishing computer from a major online computer hardware vendor.

She ordered the powerful stand-alone workstation configured just the way she wanted, with a large monitor, big hard disk and high-speed graphics card. At the same time, she purchased a top-of-the-line scanner and laser printer.

When the components arrived, she could not find the cable to connect her computer with the printer. Naturally, she was concerned and called the vendor. The vendor told her she should buy a cable from a local computer shop.

That’s absurd! It’s also not indicative of customer service quality. If she wanted to go shopping for computer parts, she might as well buy the whole system from her local vendor.

People buy online for convenience, not to be sent shopping locally for missing cables. That’s just not good customer service quality.

My friend protested.

The vendor told her to carefully read the packing slip enclosed with her new laser printer, and pointed out that a cable for connecting the printer with a computer was not included on the list.

That’s absurd, too! The vendor may be right about what’s not included with a printer, but they were completely wrong about solving her very real problem. They lacked acutely in customer service quality.

My friend protested again.

At which point the vendor tried to justify why no cable was provided.

The vendor explained that many customers now buy laser printers for installation in “networked environments” where the required connecting cables are already provided.

That’s absurdity of the highest order!

The vendor knew my friend bought a stand-alone system because the very same vendor sold, assembled and delivered the stand-alone computer to her.

Let me clarify that I admire this computer manufacturer and vendor enough to own their machines – and their stock. However, at this point in the story I became personally involved and wrote directly to the company about the lack of customer service quality.

For their persistent justification, bureaucratic inflexibility and blatant unwillingness to see the world from their customer’s point of view, this major online computer vendor became the dubious recipient of an “Infinite Absurdity Award.” This is not a hallmark of high customer service quality!

Two days later, the vendor shipped my friend the connecting cable she required. They had cables in stock all along.

Key Learning Point

Convenience is a great value to offer your customers, especially in today’s busy world. But convenience is measured by your customer’s experience, not by your explanations, justifications or packing lists. The smallest missing item can become a big customer problem. Don’t overlook the small things that impact customer service quality.

Action Steps

Consider every aspect of your customers’ experience from the moment they order, to the time they receive, install, use, maintain, upgrade and replenish your product or service. Create new ways to smooth and streamline the process to improve customer service quality. Make it so easy for customers to do business with you that they don’t even consider going to someone else because of better customer service quality.