Are you looking to purchase a 3D printer? Aside from great specifications and quality, in any purchase, people look for products and services with exceptional customer service. You don’t ever want to be left with a malfunctioning product without anyone to ask help from. In this episode, Tom and Tracy Hazzard talk all about 3D printer customer service. Is there really a company out there that offers an exceptional service? Hear some stories of going the extra mile from Tom and Tracy and get to know why gaining brand loyalty through customer service should be at the top of your list.
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Is There Exceptional 3DP Customer Service?
This is Ask Us Anything segment.
The question is exceptional customer service. Is there exceptional customer service? Do any of the 3D printing companies offer that? I want to step back. That’s hard to define because we haven’t bought more than a few printers here.
We bought maybe 3 or 4 in total.
We can’t say we’ve tried everybody’s customer service. We may have tried a lot of printers here but we didn’t go through the normal channel and get normal customer service. We probably got a lot more hands-on customer service because they know we have the podcast so they’re trying to provide us exceptional customer service. I want to be careful and say that that may not be everyone’s experience.
That gives me an idea of one of the next reviews. Maybe I need to call a straight customer service line instead of calling our contact. Maybe I should do that and report on that some more. You gave me a good idea there.
That’s the thing. I want to step back and say, “Exceptional customer service.” My good friend, Aaron Young, TheUnshackledOwner.com, the fabulous concept of how to run a company that is service-based and especially in how you can run it so that it runs itself. One of the things he says, “You cannot have exceptional customer service without exceptions.”
I’m fond of Aaron as well. He’s becoming a good friend of ours but is such a good business person and wise. He has a lot of good experience to share and the point of that statement cannot be underemphasized.
To me, that’s what happens. When a company or an organization is rigid in their situation, in their policies, there’s no room for your customer service agent to deliver exceptional customer service, that’s a bigger problem in and of itself. It’s a bigger frustration and that’s when you get that anger and aggression and you get that elevation when they can say, “There’s nothing I can do for you. I’m sorry.” That’s not okay in this world. “I personally can’t do anything for you, but I can elevate you to the next level because there’s some exception that can be made for you by my manager.”
There should be one. I was reading a quote from Mark Cuban and he talks about this same subject about how it’s much harder to gain a new customer than it is to lose an existing one. You don’t want to win the battle of, “This is my policy, customer service. Sorry, there’s nothing I can do for you,” and lose the war and lose a customer. What did you do? You saved yourself a little bit of expense dealing with the problem, maybe shipping out a spare part or replacement part or whatever it may be or helping somebody workout and upgrade them a new firmware to solve their problem, if it’s maybe something on the 3D printer like that. To not help them to not find a way, to try to help them and make them happy, make them a champion of yours.
Aaron has some tremendous statistics in his company Laughlin. They have an 80% return rate year over year of members that stay with them and it’s called Veil Protection Services. It’s a way to manage all of your corporate documents, which is essential.
It is to make sure you’re in compliance.
I discovered that I thought I was doing well here, and after they showed me exactly what they provide and they do, I was like, “This is the best money I ever spent because I now no longer worry about it.” I can see why. With the personal relationship that they established in the way that they do their customer service, I can see why they have such loyalty. This happened. We’ve had to file a statement of information for our business and I was like, “I don’t remember if this is included on our package or not?” I call up but I didn’t get the runaround from them. My contact there says, “We do that. It’s not in your package, but it’s an additional dollar amount and I can organize for you and I can put it into the right department and take care of it for you now.” They don’t send you to another department. They don’t push you off. They’re your contact. They take care of it. That’s exceptional customer service. They don’t process you through a system.
I’ll give you another example of a successful one in the 3D print industry and then maybe a not successful one. I won’t use names here because we don’t want to bash anybody. Hopefully, everybody can learn from it. One 3D printer company that we had purchased a printer from and even purchased an extended warranty from because we didn’t know what we were getting into. We wanted a little insurance that we were going to get what we wanted to out of this investment and not have problems down the road. We bought an extended warranty program. There were some issues. It wasn’t terrible. It wasn’t tremendous but there were some issues.
At one point, we were getting to the end of that one year of that contract on the extended warranty service and a new problem comes up. They offered to exchange out the printer. They didn’t know how to solve the problem. They have to exchange it and I thought, “That’s good.” First, I thought it was maybe extreme like, “Why replace the printer? Do you need to do that?” On the other hand, we’re getting to the end of that extended warranty and I was like, “Maybe I’ll do that.” They’re going to give us a refurbished one and it was apparently perfectly good as new. We did that and then I was worried, it’s like, “What’s going to happen now?” I get this new printer that I haven’t experienced or used and my extended warranty is refurbished, which to them meant it got shipped somewhere that it was not received and it got returned through UPS or whatever. They couldn’t sell it as new.
It wasn’t that it had been used. It was something that couldn’t resell as brand new. It’s a weird thing that the laws don’t allow them to do it. I said, “I’ll take that,” but then I was worried, I said, “What happens when two months down the road, I’ve got a problem with this one?” It was brand new but my extended warranty expired. They went and checked and saw if they could make an exception and they could. They extended that one-year service contract that I paid for the first time for another year from the time I got this replacement printer for no additional cost. That was an exception, but that made me pleased as a customer. It absolutely give them brand loyalty.
Another printer that we bought was from a company in Europe. They don’t have a lot of US representation. I wanted the printer because of its capabilities. It had some technical capabilities that we wanted for what we do. It’s hard to get customer service. I tried to Skype with them. I was having to jump through the hoops myself to get the exceptions, to get to talk to people. I was going into their chat rooms talking to other users in Europe. The time of day was one complication, but there were many. They did not have a good way to provide customer service. If they were going to replace anything, it was taking months to do because of the time and distance from Europe to the US. I’m not trying to bash European companies. More of them are starting to have more US presence and more US customer service, which is critical.
24-hour customer service.
It’s the only way. You’ve got to make either changes to your processes or make exceptions in order to provide this exceptional customer service.
You have to jump through hoops on this especially when you’re building a business. We learned this early on in our old ttools days back when we made the stylus pen for handheld computers back in the late ‘90s, early 2000. Our first run had a manufacturing defect. That was a defect from using a company to tool for it and to make the product who had never made pens before. Because we used the manufacturers, there was nothing wrong with the tooling. It was that in their experience, they didn’t do the threads properly and didn’t advise us right on that and they popped apart.
For you engineers out there, there was knit line in the plastic. The plastic wasn’t completely forming properly right at the thread area and the threads would crack sometimes.
We were having exploding pens. They would pop apart. We found the problem right away when people had started alerting us to it. What we did was, we immediately made a whole new set of pens with slightly thicker plastic. That’s how we resolved the problem temporarily while we fixed the tool. We sent replacements out to everyone who had a pen with an apology.
We gave them a discount code if they were ever to order an additional one. We did a few things. We went above and beyond. We also had some fun with it. We had some fun messaging. We gave them a discount off when there was a future model coming out that they could come back and be one of the first ones to get it and get it for less. We made heroes out of ourselves. Those customers became loyal because we went that extra step.
We admitted our problem. We fixed it and we went an extra step to even say, “That was unacceptable and we want to make an exception for you, our loyal customers.” You have to think about those things as you’re going and building a customer base and building a loyalty base. You also have to think about that if you’re on the flip side of that and you’re trying to buy a printer, you’re trying to use a software, you’re trying to do these things, read those reviews. If people are saying they’re having bad customer service, this is not for you because 3D printing is highly sensitive in terms of its hands-on needs, in terms of assistance. We found these, not every 3D printer, even though they’re manufactured are not exactly the same. We get feedback all the time where people cannot believe that we still are using our MakerBot from years ago. They’re furious because theirs didn’t work at all.
I don’t know what to say to that because we use ours and it runs every day and most days, all day and all night long. It still works great. Although the extruder maintenance can be extreme. I’ve learned how to do it and it’s worth it to me.
We learned how to do it from good customer service and from them helping and talking to us back and forth and from us getting additional extruders and things like that. That wouldn’t happen if we weren’t talking through that whole process and having good customer conversations back and forth with them. You have to build that and you have to say, “How no-nonsense do I want this to be?” Pick your companies and your products right.
One thing I’d like to say about that you mentioned reviews, Tracy, all too often, consumers will put up negative reviews when they have problems but won’t always put up positive reviews when they have a good experience. There are maybe more negative reviews out there than not.
I don’t think that’s the case. You have to take the positive reviews lightly as well because I think that there are a lot of reviews that are bought. That’s why I suggest you go in and dive in and read them. If you’re going on Amazon, make sure you read only the ones that are verified purchasers. That’s one of my key criteria. Make sure that you read what they say because you can tell when it’s an absolutely negative person. They’re angry about everything and they’re pissed off about something and you can tell the difference between that and constructive criticism. You can also see the same thing in the positive reviews. You can tell the ones that seem bought because they don’t sound knowledgeable at all about 3D printing.
Reviews in general, you have to take it a little bit deeper and maybe take some with a grain of salt. I always try to find people I can in the community that I’ve not posted a review but are actual users and ask their opinion. I find the best place to find that is within the forums because a lot of these different printer manufacturers and I don’t know what we would do with filament, but software is the same way. There are forums about different software.
I’m forum averse personally. I don’t always have the patience for them because they go off track. I would love to talk about Star Wars with people. I’m in there for a reason. I want to get in there and get out, instead of chatting about whatever the latest came out. I get a little impatient with that. There are also the maker groups and the makerspaces and there are always people who are more than happy to talk to you about their products.
You have to find whatever method may be best suited to your personality to try to get your information, but reach out there and do some homework because it’s there to be found.
We’ll have a little note to try adding testing customer service to our future reviews. That’s a great idea.
That’s something that we’ve overlooked so far.
Thank you, followers, for bringing that one up.
It’s an epiphany that happened right here as we discuss this.
If you have any questions for us, you can find us on social media anywhere @HazzDesign.
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