From Loss to Loyalty

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So, you’ve read of my recent misfortune when a company I was loyal to, decided to be unloyal to me. In doing so, they lost a 17-year relationship that would only continue to gain in prominence and payments. So it goes.

Let us flip the switch and see what it’s like to earn loyalty in high-quality customer service then, shall we?

One of the mainstays of my own personal brand (“Always be branding.”) is to carry a custom-printed phone case. Because of my illustration background, I have been self-promoting my artistry now for nearly as long as I’ve carried a smart phone – the only phone really large enough to showcase my work without it being undecipherable. For those who read my last blog, you no doubt know I have recently come into ownership of a brand new phone. Which meant a need for a brand new case.

I was elated at the timing of it all, as I recently completed the cover artwork for my comic book company’s first ever graphic novel. It represents the culmination of 5 years of work – over 1,000 hours of my time – and as such I figured what better piece to represent the milestone, and show off with! Rest assured, it was either that, or the DreamCSX logo, which I also designed!

After a brief google search for custom printers of phone cases, I landed on a well-reviewed business whose site was well-designed (criteria as an artist that definitely matters to me). Why didn’t I use my previous printer you wonder? Simple… they closed up shop at the end of 2017! But I digress.

I selected my phone from their easy-to-use site, and uploaded my artwork. Everything looked good, and I proceeded to check out. BUT WAIT! Before checking out, the chat feature on the site blinked open.

“Are you a new customer?” … Yes I am! “Fantastic. Let me get you a 10% discount code for working with us.” Amazing!

A week later, my case arrived. To my horror, it was a murky and muddy mess. My artwork – replete with rich textures and effects– was a dark blotch of unrecognizable form. As such, I quickly logged back into the printer’s site to see what I could get done. In under a minute, their chat agent and I were looking over the order. It would seem that my original upload of artwork mistakenly was lower resolution than suggested. With that oversight presented, I was ready to accept my error, and place a reorder. BUT WAIT! My chat agent interjected.

“Please sir, it was a minor error. Let me get you a coupon code for a free reprint.” Astounding!

I uploaded new, higher-than-high resolution artwork, applied my coupon, and awaited my reprinted case. You might think you know the rest of the story, but I assure you, stick with me.

A week later, my new case arrived… as bafflingly dark and unrecognizable as before! I was dismayed and defeated. Clearly a mistake of my artwork preparation – which was perhaps the biggest alarm of all given my decades as a designer – I admitted defeat. But, we must always learn from our mistakes, no?

I logged back on to the printer’s site, this time merely to find a way to speak to their production staff to determine what I’d done wrong. Fully ready to make manual adjustments and pay for a new case (and happily give my now 2 muddy-cruddy ones to my 5 year old to use for Lego builds or some such fun). Once again, the same chat agent greeted me. I explained my conundrum. I sent over pictures of my art and of the replacement case.

“Sir, let me get to the bottom of this. I refuse to accept that your case it not matching your artwork.” A day later, I received an email. As my customer service representative would go on to explain: my artwork was perfectly acceptable. But somehow, the production line missed the obvious discrepancy between the on-screen art and the final printed piece. Because of this, the production manager retouched my file personally, and sent along a picture of the re-re-printed case with desire for feedback and my approval. “Sir, we stand by our products, as such, having twice failed to meet our own standards is simply unacceptable. I will be overnighting you this approved case in the morning, along with a coupon code for a free case in the future. I hope we have earned your business in that future.”

And that, my friends, is how customer service is properly managed. Even when I as a customer, came to mistrust my own judgement, this company stood by it’s reputation. They were determined not only to save face by righting their production wrongs… they took the opportunity to do what they could to show me that I mattered to them. I’m sure I am nothing but an errant blip of data on a scatter graph that sits somewhere between their operations and marketing department (as I should be!), but I can’t deny the anecdotal evidence of their pride in service. As such, they’ve gained a customer for as long as they are in business… and I’m in need of amazing phone cases.