A Tale Of Two Cities: Moutain View And Valhalla
Apologies to Charles Dickens for the first part of this title … thanks to Fuji and Smugmug for the second part.
Yesterday I posted photos from our weekend scouting trip to the country’s second-longest railroad viaduct. Smugmug wasn’t allowing me to organize the gallery the way I wanted, no matter what I tried. It was getting late, so I left a message for the help heroes there and called it quits. This morning I had an answer … early this morning. And their suggestions fixed my problem on the first try, with no fuss. Thank you, Smugmug!
And Fuji has discovered a possible flaw with some of the very earliest X-T1 cameras (new on the market). As soon as the problem was reported (a light leak can occur under some hard-to-duplicate conditions), Fuji posted a response on their website. That response was quickly picked up and reported by other sites, where I saw it a couple of days ago. This morning I called Fuji and got a real person right away … unusual in many regards for our day and age. The rep heard my explanation of why I was calling and immediately took my name and email, apologizing for the inconvenience. He said to expect an email very soon that would detail how Fuji would arrange (for free) to pick up our camera and make sure it was perfect. Thank you, Fuji!
The point today is that good service cancels out problems that consumers (me, for example) experience with products we like. We all make mistakes in life (me, again). It is how we respond to those mistakes and errors that colors the experience for others who interact with us. Smugmug (located in Mountain View, CA) couldn’t have been more prompt, and the solution they offered worked immediately. No one asked me what I had done wrong; no one urged me to check the FAQ for answers before contacting them; they were concerned that my site wasn’t working the way I wanted it too. The experience turned into a pleasant one. Fuji (located in Valhalla, NJ) wasted no time offering me a solution to what is only a possible problem on a few early cameras – no questions asked other than my serial number. On their website an executive announced that all other activities would take a back seat to examining cameras sent to them. Again, their response makes a possible problem into a pleasant experience. Good service trumps product problems.
Now contrast that with the way Nikon handled the D600 dust-on-the-sensor problem. First they ignored it, even though it quickly became obvious that the problem was real and that it was affecting quite a few cameras. Then they charged owners for sending in their cameras for repair (at least for the postage). When it became impossible to ignore the problem they fashioned an answer designed only to infuriate D600 owners – they changed the shutter mechanism in the camera and re-labeled it the D610. Problem with a D600? Buy a new D610 – at retail! It wasn’t until Nikon was hit with a class action lawsuit that they announced they would repair existing D600 cameras for free. By then any goodwill the action would have engendered had been squandered. D600 owners were – and are – infuriated with Nikon. And deservedly so.
Which companies out of the three outlined above are most likely to keep their customer base? Which company is skating on some increasingly thin ice? My good friend Kendall Reeves once told me that people like to do business with people they like. I wrote back this morning and told the Smugmug hero assisting me that the term was most apropos. And I told the Fuji rep how much I appreciated the great service. In contrast, I am unhappy with Nikon – and I don’t even own a D600!
Nikon, I am far from alone in feeling you don’t care much about your customers (let alone consider them family). And some of the missteps Canon has made in the past couple of years makes many wonder if they are really attuned to what we are looking for out here? Today was a good lesson, a good reminder for me – I really need to continue doing business with the people I like. The others? Not so much any more. How about you?