One of my favorite stories I like to tell when i want to demonstrate good customer service, is about a good German friend of mine who stayed and worked in the US for half a year. He was in the States several years ago on a practical term, where he worked for a local engineering company as part of his technical college education. He was a mechanical engineering student, so as you can imagine, he was very keen on buying some good quality American-made hand tools (wrenches, screwdrivers, etc.).
I suggested he pay a visit to the local Sears department store, to buy some well-made Craftsman hand tools, which happen to have a no-questions asked, lifetime replacement guarantee. My friend asked me exactly what this "lifetime guarantee" included and what it was about, so I told him. I went something like this:
Friend: So, what exactly does this "Lifetime Guarantee" cover Mike?
Me: Everything. If you bend a hand tool, or break a hand tool, Sears will replace it, no questions asked and for no fee. Even hand tools you've bought years before are covered -- all the way back to the very first Craftsman tools from the late 20s.
Friend: You're kidding right? You mean if I break the tool, even an old tool, Sears will replace it with not a single question and no fee? Must I bring a receipt as a proof of purchase?
Me: Yes, exactly. It's a no questions asked lifetime guarantee. I and my dad have both brought back bent and broken tools several times and they have always taken them back, no questions asked and provided new tools in exchange. No receipt is needed since they're clearly stamped as Craftsman tools.
Friend: So, let me get this straight... a tool that I break or bend will be replaced by Sears with a new one with no questions whatsoever? Are you really serious Mike?
Me: Yes, completely serious. Sears has excellent tools and stands behind them to the point that if one bends or breaks, they will replace it. They figure this kind of confidence and backup of their hand tools will give them a great reputation with their customers. It's also a way of providing great customer service which in turn drives more sales of their tools.
Friend: Wow! You would never find any such provision in Germany. I can't wait to buy some Craftsman tools!
In the end my friend bought a pretty big collection of Craftsman tools from Sears which he brought back to Germany at the end of his practical term in the US. He was very impressed with their quality. But he frequently mentioned how pleased he was with their lifetime guarantee and as far as I know, has never needed to return any tools for exchange. :-)
My point in mentioning this story is simply to show what great customer service should look like. Sears believes so firmly in the quality of their product they're willing to back it up with an incredible guarantee. I praise companies like Sears who offer these kinds of guarantees to their customers and I encourage more companies to adopt similar approaches.