Sometimes when things go wrong with a customer our first instinct is to run and hide.  Sure, we’ll try to make things right, but it’s a bit like handling a dead fish, we want to just hold our nose and be done with it as soon as possible.

Thankfully, not Headsets Direct, a company that sells telephone headsets online, and Plantronics, the manufacturer whose products they sell.  I don’t know how much money both companies lost concluding my $60 transaction, but I know one thing, they created a customer for life in me.

Now, to be clear, Headsets Direct is a client of mine.  So, you’d expect me to say great things about them and you’d expect they would bend over backwards to make sure my experience is a good one.  Yes on both counts.  But I learned something about a relationship Plantronics has with their distributors (like Headsets Direct) that is very smart, and is designed to give you the same type of “insider” treatment I may have received.

I bought a $60 headset from Headsets Direct to use for Skype calls and online meetings, and after three tries to get me my headset, they succeeded.  The first one had a tiny piece break after about a month.  Still worked great, but my wonderful headset was no longer perfect.  The replacement unit they sent didn’t work properly right out of the box.  The replacement for it was a different headset (MX500c instead of an MX500i).  On the third try it was all good.

Made possible because part of Headsets Direct’s DNA is satisfying the customer and Plantronics’ commitment to send replacement headsets their distributors request, no questions asked.  Bang, bang, bang.  Whatever it takes.

This type of support removes a lot of the risk for their distributors from an effort to satisfy a customer.  Yes, the distributor has to be willing to “hang in there” until the customer is satisfied, which usually means the profit for that transaction (or that day!) is gone.  But how much easier for the distributor knowing Plantronics will FedEx a replacement with zero hoopla?

So, how do you create a customer for life?  From this experience I’d say two things have to happen:

First, you have to be willing to put aside profit and hang in there to the bitter end.  It’s times like these when customers experience those rare moments when they matter more to a company than the monetary value of their transaction.

Second, you need a company like Plantronics behind you to remove the friction of delivering that type of moment to a customer.

For some, two products that fail and a shipping error with the same customer within about seven days might sound like a nightmare.  For me, it is the best example of how you create a customer for life I’ve seen in a long time.  A very, very long time.