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Brett Nordquist (Customer Experience Engineer)

Small Town Service

Written on April 30, 2013 by Brett Nordquist

I recently moved my family from Washington State to Southern Utah.  I made the nearly 1200 mile journey in a rented moving truck. When I stopped to fill-up the truck with diesel fuel, I often had to speak with the clerk working the station to either unlock the pump or approve a debit card transaction over a certain amount.

With diesel at nearly $5/gallon and a 60 gallon tank I figured the clerks at the station would be happy to assist, but that was seldom the case. Reactions to my requests for help ranged from being ignored to veiled animosity. At one station outside Boise, I was ignored while the clerk carried on a conversation with a coworker. Another time I was asked to wait for the wind to die down before the pump could be unlocked.

Although these interactions put a small damper on the journey, we safely made it to Utah without any major issues. We moved to an area a fraction of the size of our former. In fact, when I tell people we live just around the corner from the barber shop, they know exactly where I mean because, well, there’s only one barber shop, and it’s located next close to the only gas station.

As I thought about what I’d like to blog about this month, I came back to the service (or lack thereof) I received on the road and compared it to the service I’ve experienced in my new town. For example, when I called the US Post Office to request a key to my mail slot, I expected  the usual run-around and long delay. Imagine my surprise when three keys were hand-delivered to my door the next day. My interactions with every local business so far has been impressive.

I believe I can distill a major difference in the service I received from the gas stations and that of the local merchants to the following: The local merchants know they will see me again. And not just at their store but at church or school or even the post office. 

The station clerks knew chances were slim we’d ever cross paths again. I was a disposable customer at best and an annoyance at worst. 

Each day I speak with people who have purchased computers from companies they assumed would be there after the sale. Maybe their computer worked fine for a few months, even years, but when it broke down and required assistance from support, they were either given the run-around or asked to purchase an extended warranty before assistance would be provided. In a few worst case examples, customers told me about companies that disappeared shortly after their PC purchase never to be heard from again. 

Consider for a moment the companies that have earned your repeat business. I’ll bet most if not all of them consider their relationship with each customer as something worthy of making an honest effort. The florist that arranges a dozen long stem roses for Mother’s Day understands that you’re more likely to return if you’re provided excellent service in addition to the flowers that, like diesel fuel, are available from numerous locations.

At Puget Systems we don’t view our customers as passing through town, unlikely to cross our path again. We appreciate the trust you put in us to build your computer and want you to know that you’re always welcome to call us for assistance.

I know it sounds old-fashioned but we actually enjoy speaking with you. And we won’t put you on hold until the wind dies down. 

Tags: service, support, customer

...because we're indoors and that's just ridiculous.

Posted on 2013-05-01 16:40:43

Being a 27 year veteran of a small, mostly volunteer, fire department here in California, I can say there were days when it was too windy for a game of marbles, but not enough to prevent us from serving the public when they needed us. In our small community, the majority of businesses are locally owned and operated by our friends and neighbors and they go the distance for their customers. We depend upon one another for the quality of life we lead.

Unfortunately, there are places where people who provide a service could really care less, viewing us, as you say, as 'disposable'. What they don't understand is that I will tell my friends, "Hey, if you're going through _______, don't buy anything from _______, because their customer service is non-existent." So, not only did they lose me as a customer, they will lose many more simply because of word of mouth.

When someone asks me for a recommendation for a computer, I always say, "Check out, or call Puget Systems! You won't find better service anywhere." So, word of mouth works both ways.

I have also heard horror stories from folks who bought computers from companies where 'Sales' answers the phone on the first ring, but you're put on hold for an hour (or get unceremoniously dropped) when you call 'Support' or 'Customer Service'.

Not so with Puget Systems! When I call, or e-mail, I feel like I am conversing with a friend.

ps: I play music with my postmaster, my associate at my bank, and the owner of our coffee house on Main Street.

Posted on 2013-05-01 18:01:41

In fact, I bought my previous quiet PC from a company that recommended a three-year service contract and went out of business the day after they shipped my PC. Fortunately, the computer worked fine, really was quiet (though not as quiet as my Serenity), and never needed service. Still, I did feel taken for a sucker for that service contract.

And yes, service is often better in small towns. Still, service here in Portland, OR, is usually better than in most cities -- and a lot more competent than in our former small town in NC.

Posted on 2013-05-02 05:07:53