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Jon Bach (President)

Listening Beyond the Words

Written on September 27, 2013 by Jon Bach
Our family went out to eat this evening. The tone of the experience we were about to receive was set when I walked in the door, and was thrown off guard by the lack of greeting. The greeter and I stared at each other for a few seconds before she said "Yeah?" I stammered something and got us a table. We waited for 45 minutes for our food, and it arrived cold and soggy. A few minutes later, our waiter came by to ask "How is everything so far this evening?" My reply was the same as most of us would reply in this situation.
"Fine, thanks."
The fact was, I really didn't care about the place enough to get involved in improving it. Nothing was terrible, but almost everything was mediocre. It was easier to put on a smile, walk out the door, and just make a mental note to not come back.
The worst part of this story is: they think they did fine. I told them they did fine. How many customers tell your business that you're doing fine? Can you trust that feedback?
If your customers aren't raving about you, it probably means you're disappointing many of them. Even when they are raving, you've probably still disappointed them somewhere along the way, even if only a little. You're never going to hear about how you can improve unless you passionately seek out that information. You're never going to be given that information unless your customers feel they can safely share it without being hassled, and they will only take the time to share with you if they feel that time and effort is a good investment for them.
I'm very proud of a number of efforts we've been making at Puget Systems to find and listen to this silent feedback. We're learning a lot. We're improving every day, and we are empowered with the knowledge of the dozens, maybe even hundreds, of other ways we know we still need to grow and service our customers better. We like to say that we are passionate about learning from failure at Puget Systems, and we're not just talking about the products we carry. We're talking about ourselves.
What about the mainstream PC industry? They're doing just fine, right!
Tags: customer service, feedback

How are you doing...? I have recommended many people to you (who have purchased full systems) and I have never actually been a customer. I don't know how many of them recommended you but I do know of at least one that is a repeat customer.

You sell systems. I do wonder if there was someway to check in with the customer 2 or 3 years down the line with a genuine interest. "Three years ago you purchased a hard core gamer rig from us. We were wondering how the rig is running? Is it holding up to your satisfaction? Have you run any benchmarks recently and compared them to the initial? What kind of modifications have you done out of need or out of desire?" It could easily come off like an upsell though I think you could navigate it with authentic concern.

I know you love metrics. Some of the responses would be noise. Some of it would be truly gold nuggets. A fresh system leaves your office and then people start doing stuff with it in the wild. If there were some way to track the performance "decay" based on user cruft and also help them get their performance back, then that would be a win for your brand, your care, your rigs, and the customers.

I don't know about the resource/reward for this. I'll leave that you.

Keep up the great work.

Posted on 2013-09-28 16:26:33

Good idea Darin -- we had the same idea! We actually started doing just that about 6 months ago, and have talked to hundreds of customers so far, with exciting results. We're learning a lot!

Posted on 2013-10-02 17:04:56

I think Darin hit it on the head. I like recommending you guys as well, and you are one of those few companies that I would invest my time to give negative feedback to. And that's only because of articles like this - because I feel you guys want the negative feedback. If you make it clear to your customers that you want and value negative feedback, I think you are more likely to get it. And turning it into metrics, like Darin said, I think would be great for you guys.

Its great to see a small business grow! We're cheering for you guys.

Posted on 2013-09-28 18:09:05

since 2007 we like your attention to detail Jon
many electrical engineers lurk at your website

Posted on 2013-09-29 01:21:55
Kenneth Crippen

Jon....just go read my customer testimonial. You'll see just what I think of your company and you. You concerns, while valid, are not at all warranted for Puget truly is the best. All I'm saying. I'll let my review do the rest of my talking for me. (Titled: Review by an Old Man).

Posted on 2013-11-14 23:18:22