I got two emails the other day that reminded me of how important every interaction is with every customer. In both cases, I was the customer.
The first email was from a racquetball supply company back East. They sell racquets, gloves, shoes, bags and things like that. I’m on their list. I deleted their email without reading it, and with a twinge of dislike.
A couple of years ago, I bought a new racquet and some other things. My order qualified for a free long-sleeve t-shirt with their logo on it. Cool, I don’t have any racquetball shirts, and not many long-sleeve t-shirts.
When I got my package, the shirt I was expecting wasn’t there. Instead, there was a short sleeve shirt in a color I don’t like for a company I don’t like. So I emailed them asking what was up. They said they were temporarily out of the other ones, so they gave me this instead. I said I don’t want that one, I want the one that I chose. Please send it to me when you get them back in.
Here was an opportunity for them to do the right thing. I wasn’t asking them to go above and beyond. I was asking them to do what they said they would. The response was, “Check back with us in a month or two and remind us.”
Right. So it’s on me? I asked them to please keep track of my info, and send it to me when they get them back in. No response. And no shirt ever showed up.
Guess when the last time I placed an order with them was? I still get their emails because they send out video tips, and I’ll probably get my racquet restrung by them at some point, but I haven’t forgotten that lack of caring. Even if someday I forget why I don’t like them, I’ll never forget that I don’t like them.
And the thing is, they do everything else right. They have free tips videos, they’re aligned with the number one player in the world, they have great reviews and great prices…but they poisoned a relationship because they couldn’t be bothered to send me the shirt they offered me in exchange for an order over $150.
By contrast, I also got an email from another company, and this one I’ll name. It’s a company in Ohio called Aerospace Lubricants.
I’ve been building this little fiberglass dune buggy for like 20 years now. Have I mentioned this yet? I feel like I have. Anyway, I’ve wanted one ever since I saw Kurt Russell driving one in “The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes.” I figured it would be a poor man’s convertible. Turns out I was right. I’m a poor man because of that car, that’s for sure.
So a couple of weeks ago, I noticed a CV joint boot had split. Essentially, that’s a rubber cover that covers the axle bearing (the constant velocity joint). So the fix is to pull both rear axles and change all four boots at once (one on each end). Because if one split, it means the rubber has deteriorated and the others aren’t far behind.
The CVs take a special kind of grease. Now, lots of guys would just run down to O’Reilly’s and get the can labeled CV Grease. But no, not me. I have to do my research, and I have to overthink it, and I have to find what kind of grease NASA uses on their space shuttles. Because if it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing. Why do you think it’s taken me so long to build this car?
So I went online and found a bulletin board of guys talking about CV grease in their VW desert racers. Perfect. Of course I found the stuff that is actually used by NASA in the space shuttle bearings. But it’s $1500 per cartridge (enough for four CV joints). Whoa! Or you could get the lower grade stuff for only $500. Such a deal. And it’s apparently really nasty stuff. One guy’s hands and face swelled up when using it.
Then someone else recommended this grease that performs just as well as the space shuttle grease on desert racers, but is less toxic and is less expensive. Only $55. Still expensive, but 10 times cheaper. And Heidi, if you’re reading this, that was a typo. It’s actually only $5.50. I would never pay $55 for CV grease! Are you kidding me? That would be stupid.
I placed an order for the grease from Aerospace Lubricants, called Tribolube-5, and with my order, there was a comment section. So I said, “If this is not the right product for CV joints, please let me know.”
I got an email back saying, “For heavy-duty CV joints, yes.”
Well, I don’t know what they consider heavy-duty. I do have a VW bus trannie in this little car, and that’s heavier duty than stock, but will the grease be too heavy for my car? No idea.
I emailed back and told them what I was using it for. No response. Then I get an email saying my order is being shipped. I emailed back saying I was waiting for a response to confirm it’s the right product for my application.
An hour later, I got an email from the General Manager of the company. He said this grease just did the Dakar Rally on a Hummer H3 with no failures. Talk about extreme! Heck yeah! That’s what I want on my sunny day cruiser!
But he asked me about my usage and I sent him some pix, and he determined it would be too thick for my light little car. He recommended another product, which is what he uses on all his vehicles, including heavier duty vehicles than mine. The grease he recommended would be “super smooth and strong.” And this stuff, Tribolube-9, is only $11 for the equivalent amount.
Here is the General Manager of an aerospace supply company taking the time to help me find the best product. A measly little $11 sale. He could have just said, “Yeah, the $55 stuff is perfect.” But no. He was only concerned about figuring out which product was right for me. I told him how appreciative I was for his help with my piddly little order, and he said, “No problem. We care about every order!”
Now that’s how you do it. My CV grease is on the way, I’m confident I have the best stuff, and as a bonus, it’s even cheaper than most of the other recommendations guys were making on that site. Which means Heidi will love it as much as I will.
Aerospace Lubricants has my business for life, along with anyone I can recommend to them.
Unnamed racquetball company, are you taking notes?