by Anne Nugent Guignon, RDH,
Companies go to great lengths to design and develop easy-to-use products that deliver clinical excellence. Thousands of dollars and countless hours go into creating new devices, techniques, and products. Smart companies are in business to make a profit, keep customers happy, and create long-lasting relationships. Part of the branding process is to deliver on advertised promises and meet or exceed customer expectations. Companies that are highly regarded excel in executing these business principles.
From a business standpoint, it does not make sense to sell a subpar product. Defective products are costly to replace and a company’s reputation is at stake if the process is not handled well. An unhappy customer is a liability. Savvy businesses go out of their way to limit any potential damage to their reputations.
Despite substantial efforts to create great products, manufacturing glitches can occur. Salespeople sometimes exaggerate a product’s merit or fail to describe a key limitation. If a product is new, a particular problem may not have come to light, so customer service may not have an immediate or satisfactory solution. All of these situations create enormous stress.
So what should you do if a product or service doesn’t deliver? What happens when a product arrives broken, has a missing part, or comes in a damaged package? What if the product box is only half full? Unless it’s a life-threatening situation, realize that companies are genuinely interested in your feedback, both positive and negative. Returning the product to the dental supply company is an immediate fix for our end, but it’s unlikely that the manufacturer will ever be privy to what didn’t work. So rather than sulking or sending an angry e-mail to your dental hygiene colleagues, take time to contact the manufacturer and give them the opportunity to resolve the issue.
There are a few things to consider before contacting a company. First, review the product directions to ensure you are complying with the manufacturer’s recommendations. It’s astonishing how many people fail to read product inserts and then blame the manufacturer for sending a defective product. If the package insert is lost, most directions are available online. Remember, companies are not liable for incorrect product use or materials still in service after the expiration date.
Make a list of how the product was used and how it failed. Before calling a company’s customer service hotline or sending an e-mail, expedite the process by knowing the purchase date, lot number, serial number, manufacturing date and location, expiration date, and any prior communications.
Don’t forget to take a deep breath and put your emotions in neutral before making a call or sending a note, especially if you’re angry or disappointed. Customer service representatives are there to resolve problems. The person on the other end of the phone is there to help you and did not create the situation you’re calling about. Even if you’re tempted to go in the wrong direction, be patient. A little kindness really pays off when you’re asking someone to help.
To save time, ask the customer service representative if there is another person, such as someone in technical support, who would be better suited to handle your concern. It’s always a good idea to ask their name, document the time of the call and the key points in the conversation. Create a permanent record outlining the pertinent information that is easy to access at a later date. Send it in an e-mail to yourself and your office.
Typically, companies want take a look at defective products and will issue a call tag to cover the return shipping. By examining failed or defective products, companies look for ways to make improvements.
Here is the good news. With rare exceptions, most companies will not only replace the defective product but many will send an additional product as a thank you for helping them make their products or services better.
Finally, if you are really happy with a product, a service, or a person in a company, speak up and let companies know your thoughts. Everyone loves to hear they’re doing a good job!
Sincere dialogue goes along way in establishing a sound professional relationship with those that provide the tools that are critical to our comfort zone.
About the Author
Anne Nugent Guignon, RDH, MPH, is the senior consulting editor for RDH magazine. She is an international speaker who has published numerous articles and authored several textbook chapters, as well as presented seminars. She is a recipient of the 2004 Mentor of the Year Award, and has practiced dental hygiene in Houston since 1971.