Kitchen sink customer service

I spent a lot of time at my kitchen sink last month. Not out of choice but because our dishwasher died after 11 years hard labour.

The whole experience brought home a lot of facts about customer service that I think are well worth commenting on. Firstly, you often don’t appreciate how good a service is until suddenly it is taken away. Standing at the sink in my marigolds made me realise there are probably lots of suppliers who are unsung heroes behind the Chiumento business – just as our dishwasher went largely unnoticed all the time it worked. To all of them a very big “thank you”. I will make sure I say that more often.

One of our Chiumento values is “brave”. It is about a lot of things including giving our clients and delegates the best advice. The engineer from Neff who came to look at our dishwasher summed this up beautifully. Yes, he could repair the dishwasher. However hiding away inside its ageing carcass were several more time bombs waiting to happen. His advice – “buy a new one”. This despite the fact he could have no doubt farmed lots of call out fees in the years ahead by repeatedly patching up the old one.

So honest was the engineer, and so good had been the product, we bought Neff again. We didn’t even think about another brand.

We bought the replacement dishwasher from John Lewis. Who gave us another brilliant example of customer service. The two guys (Daz and Martin) who delivered and installed the machine did so to perfection. They were courteous to a fault and, more importantly, knew exactly what they were doing. The fact the installation was free – part of a special offer – made it seem even more perfect.

Sadly the same couldn’t be said of a local tradesman we dealt with recently. He failed the Chiumento “genuine” test – trying to muddle through a job he simply wasn’t equipped to do rather than recognising it was beyond him.

What I learned from that experience is buying local isn’t always best policy. I am glad many Chiumento customers think the same. We don’t have offices scattered around the UK but we deliver great service nonetheless. Knowing your stuff is surely more important than your postcode.

My worst customer service experience of recent months? Without a doubt it has to be my visit to a local dealer in search of a new company car. I felt like a second class citizen from the outset. I popped in on a Saturday when it seems the dealer has no members of its fleet team working. Bit of a faux pas that one. Guess what, I’m too busy working in the week to go company car shopping… The “private” sales people were hovering around customers like bees. None of them wanted to spend time with me. No being “energetic” (another Chiumento value) there then.

The following week I spoke to a sales person by phone who promised to organise a test drive. We agreed a date and he promised a call on the Friday before they delivered the car on the Monday. Guess what? Yes, no call and no car. He did eventually ring a week later and left a voicemail asking if I was ready to organise a test drive… It just sums up why, after being a loyal customer of theirs for years, I defected to BMW.

Finally, we won a new client last week who enquired via our website. They’d apparently emailed several outplacement businesses about a project and we were the only ones to reply. Refreshing they said. Yes, that’s us.

Ian Gooden
Chief Executive Designate