13 May Relying on Product Reviews? Knowing How a Company Treats Its Customers Is Just as Valuable
PRODUCT reviews are broken. They are great at telling you about the speed of a computer or the brightness of a screen. But there’s a big gaping hole in evaluations of most products, from phones to computers to televisions.
The product evaluations neglect to mention the quality of a company’s customer service, which becomes the most important factor of all when problems or questions related to the product come up.
I learned this lesson from a bizarre experience with a Samsung oven that I bought last year. This was no impulse purchase — I researched brands and appliances for days. But even that didn’t help.
Less than a year after I bought it, the oven made a violent grinding noise because of a defective fan. Samsung sent a technician who, over the course of seven visits, concluded that not only was the fan irreplaceable because of a defect, but that the oven also had a heat leak. The leak posed a fire hazard and had melted the side of a brand-new kitchen cabinet, causing thousands of dollars in damage.
At that moment, all that mattered was the speed and ease in which Samsung’s service department dealt with my problem. But rather than rush to remove this troubled oven from my life, Samsung’s support center dragged out this entire process for five months.
The entire experience made me realize that I had been blindsided. How, in my many hours of reading product reviews on websites, had I missed the part about service? I searched far and wide on the web and realized it was practically impossible to reliably research a company’s customer service quality. So I contacted some product ratings companies themselves.
J.D. Power & Associates, a research firm, collects feedback on brands and products from consumers through surveys and shows ratings based on the feedback. When it shows ratings for service — for automobiles, for example — it generally breaks those ratings into a report that is separate from the ratings for the product.
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