I ordered a mid-tier car racing helmet last Thursday from Helmet City (http://www.helmetcity.com, @helmetcity) and got a call Friday (the next day) that it’s out of stock. Sucks, I was bummed. I really wanted that helmet and I also need it next weekend. Car racing helmets are hard to come by in store, so online is by far the best option.
Kyle, the customer service agent, was friendly, apologetic and admitted to a mistake in the availability listing on their website. Fair enough, that can happen. He suggested another color, but I said I really wanted matte black. Dunno why, I just did. Kyle completely understood that. No pushing in any way.
Actually, he immediately gave me some other options, both lower and higher in price. I pulled up the website and tracked along his suggestions. Without my prompting in any way, he suggested I get what’s essentially the next model up helmet, at the upper end of the mid-tier range, but give it to me at a price barely above the original. In fact, the price is what looks like their cost. While I didn’t really want to spend any more money on this, I did need a helmet on my doorstep by Thursday morning, so I took the deal.
I also took the deal because Kyle made a textbook move on how to make good on a bad situation:
- Apologize, show empathy if you screwed up and do it with a phone call. They had bad inventory listing. There’s no hiding that, so just say it like it is. And don’t just send a “sorry” email. Pick up the phone.
- Listen to and understand the customer’s situation. I needed a helmet somewhat urgently.
- Provide options. I was given both higher and lower-priced helmets at a choice.
- For extra credit, give the customer a deal for their troubles. I was given a better helmet for just over the price of the original one. Depending on how the margins line up of the two items, give the lower of same price or cost of the better product. Who doesn’t like being given a deal?
- Follow up as you said you would. I got a revised order via email within a couple minutes after getting off the phone. My card had never been charged either, which is a very correct business process.
So with this situation, would I buy from Helmet City again? For sure. Now I really can’t wait for that helmet.