A recent customer service nightmare involving Frigidaire and A&M Home Services in Grand Junction, Colorado made me doubly appreciative of those companies who haven’t forgotten to put the customer first. I’ll never buy another Frigidaire branded appliance and the morons at A&M Home Services can, well…I’d better not say what they can do. But, instead of castrating them in public (which I guess I just did) I thought I’d take a moment to celebrate a few companies that have consistently impressed me with outstanding customer service.
Makers of the single best ballhead for outdoor photographers, Acratech not only makes a superior product but they treat customers as though we’re their lifeline. Oh wait, we are – and these guys know it. They have gone above and beyond several times when I’ve called for service, whether it be buying another product, asking a question or requesting parts needed for repairs. Even more telling is that everyone I know who has ever needed service from Acratech has been treated with the same courtesy and professionalism I’ve experienced.
Just a couple short months ago I’d never printed one of my photos on canvas. In fact, I was somewhat leary of it. Then I find Artistic Photo Canvas (APC) on twitter. At the time they were offering a promotion for first time customers so I ordered a canvas, but not before barraging them with a bazillion questions that, in retrospect, were probably pretty annoying. They answered my questions and addressed my concerns promptly and without making me feel like an idiot. And then the canvas arrived. I was floored. It was gorgeous! So, I did what any good photographer would do and ordered another canvas wrap, this time 3 times the size. APC called to verify a couple things and within days I was holding a breathtaking 32″ x 48″ canvas wrap. Not only do they care about their customers, they do absolutely outstanding work. In fact, I was so impressed, that we partnered with APC to offer a special discount on a gorgeous canvas wrap to purchasers of our iFotoGuide iPhone apps! Give these guys a shot and you will not be disappointed.
One of my favorite clients convinced me that I needed to try the Nik Software Lightroom and Photoshop plug-in’s. He knew that I place a high value on companies who deliver great service and, as a business owner himself, it was a sentiment we shared. He told me about a great experience he’d had with Nik’s customer service department and how much he loved their product. After my free trial download expired I was so hooked that I bought the Nik Complete Collection. For some unknown reason I was unable to download one of the plug-in’s. I called Nik’s Customer Service department and was astonished that it didn’t take 30 minutes to get a real live, English speaking person on the phone. Nope, within 5 minutes the issue was resolved and I was on my way. As with Acratech, I’ve since spoken to several others who have been treated just as well when calling Nik for help. Could it be, a tech company that provides good customer service? Yes, indeed.
Incidentally, if you’re in the market for some Nik Software you can use coupon code “BEDGE” in the Nik Store to save 15% on your purchase.
During the summer of 2009 while on a trip to the Tetons I discovered on the first day that I had forgotten my hiking boots. Yeah, I’m a scatterbrain at times. I bought a pair of Oboz Yellowstone’s at a local store on the recommendation of the clerk. I’m now on my second pair of Oboz boots and can’t say enough good things about them. I wrote a gear review about the first pair that addressed a couple really minor issues. A couple days later I received an email from Oboz thanking me for writing the review and explaining that they were about to release a revised version of the boot that addressed those very same issues. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who had complained about them. Unlike so many companies today, Oboz actually listened to customer complaints and made product changes to fix the problem. Holy crap! Who does that any more? Thanks, Oboz, for making a killer product and listening to your customers!
At one point or another most of us have bought something from B&H or Adorama. Yeah, the prices are good and yes, they’ve generally been helpful when I needed to return something. However, I can’t say that calling them with a question is the most pleasant experience. And then there’s Outdoor Photo Gear. They carry stuff for outdoor photographers at reasonable prices, and their employees are a true pleasure to speak to when questions arise. They ship stuff fast, pack it well and when the need for a return arises, they have a very generous policy and are very helpful with the process. Ah, such a nice change!
My first experience with Pictureline about 3 years ago was positive and every one since has been, too. I’ve dealt with them online, on the phone and in person at the store more times than I can count and they’ve always been pleasant, efficient and helpful. Most recently, I decided to invest in the equipment for using off-camera flash. I went into the store and the clerk spent about an hour with me explaining different options and even walking me through some hypothetical set-ups. Never did I feel rushed or like I was asking ridiculous questions. The Pictureline employees I’ve had contact with have all been photographers, not some Joe off the road who just needed a job. And they have always made doing business with Pictureline a great experience. Their camera and lens prices are slightly higher than most online retailers but I pay it because their service far exceeds that which I have received elsewhere. And they’re local to Utah!
Last on my list, but certainly not least, is Singh-Ray Filters. I believe Singh-Ray filters are the best money can buy. They are expensive but in this case, you do get what you pay for. Over the years I’ve purchased several filters from them. When one of my filters developed a strange film that couldn’t be cleaned off I contacted Singh-Ray, expecting to be told to buy another filter. Instead, they overnighted a new filter to me at no cost (I didn’t ask them to send it overnight, mind you) and requested that I return the defective filter to them (regular old USPS). A couple years later, when that filter was shattered on rocks due to my own carelessness, I sent Singh-Ray a note asking (sarcastically) if they offered discounts to “morons who leave their tripod mounted cameras unattended on unstable ground in gusty winds”. Much to my surprise I received a note the next day saying that their records showed the purchase and they extended a generous discount on the replacement. That isn’t to say they’ll do that every time but hell, they could have told me to pound sand and buy a full cost replacement! Because of their service and the quality of their product I use only Singh-Ray filters and they’re the only filter I’ll recommend at my workshops.
There you have it. Seven companies who produce awesome products and deliver top notch customer service. Is their a company whose service so impressed you that you’d like to give ‘em some props? Use the comments section below to tell us all about ‘em. Feel free to include a link to their site, too.