As I mentioned in the previous article on Customer Service, I used to just send defective sample products back for a complete replacement. But, after enough of the replacements also exhibited issues, some the same, some different, I changed my process and started dealing directly with the manufacturer’s customer service department. I learned something very interesting.
Given the chance, they really want to help!
My first customer service experience was with Crosman over a defective scope. I had purchased a rifle and scope combination at my local big box store and the scope was just not right. I got on the phone with Crosman and within minutes, they had a new scope on the way. When I received it, it was a noticeable upgrade from the bundled optic. Hum.. that was not what I expected. The CS representative was courteous, helpful, and apologetic about my situation. Now this was before I had even started reviewing airguns, to them I was just someone that had a defective airgun. From what I’ve heard, Crosman still provides great customer service when given the chance.
Some companies have really gone the extra mile
Early on I tried my hand at some manual airgun “upgrades” and the results were mixed. I remember one in particular when I tried to convert my Gamo Hunter 440 to a gas ram. Not having a clue about what I was doing, the results were less than optimal. I contacted Gamo and they gave me an address to ship my gun. I received it back with a note about what they had to do to get it shooting correctly again. Long story short is that they fixed my error and it only cost shipping to and from. Now, that’s probably not their normal policy, they had every right to charge me for the repair. I can only assume the fact that I was forthright about my own part in it, put them in a mind to just help me out.
100% the right attitude for customer service
I had the privilege of getting a “behind the scenes” tour of Umarex back in 2013. One of the most impressive departments was their customer service department. “State of the art” does not begin to describe the investments they’ve put in to their facility. I can’t talk about some of the processes because they are proprietary, but let’s just say that they are fully committed to making sure that their customers are properly supported. In talking with the head of customer service, he told me that he gives all customers the benefit of the doubt the first time around and will do whatever it takes to get the problem resolved. Most products are turned around within 72 hours or under and are processed by their own gunsmiths and airgun technicians. These guys were not playing around. The key to any company’s success is how they take care of their customers AFTER the purchase and I could tell right away that Umarex really “gets” that point.
Sometimes it takes a while to get things rolling
Back in 2012 I met the CEO of Hatasn USA. I pestered him until he finally sent some product my way to review. What happened after was really something. See Hatsan USA was, for all intents and purposes, brand new in the US market. While the Hatsan brand was long established overseas, the infrastructure did not exist fully here in the states, at least not initially.
After working with Hatsan for a couple of months, I got a call from the CEO who wanted to come visit me here in my shop. Well, that was a unique turn of events. During his visit we struck a deal for me to begin consulting with them on quality control and also to provide support for their US based customers on a sub-contract basis. All I can say is that I learned more about airguns and airgunners in the 14 months that followed than I’d learned in the previous 4 or 5 years.
When I started that project there were some fairly obvious issues that needed to be addressed in the quality control department. I found was that the factory in Turkey really wanted to know how to fix these issues and was very happy to accommodate our design changes and suggestions. Now, well over 2 years later, the guns are more reliable and are shooting better than ever.
I transitioned out of the direct customer service role in July of 2013 which is when Hatsan’s US based service center came fully on-line supplying parts and service to the US customer base. I personally know the guys responsible for making sure things are taken care of over there. I can tell you with a certainty that they are committed to making sure that their customers are completely satisfied.
So what does all this mean?
Well, I guess what I’ve been trying to say is that if you have a problem with your airgun, give the guys that built it a chance to make it right. Unless you are an accomplished airgun technician, don’t try to self-repair. Chances are that you’ll just make matters worse and void any warranty in the process. Keep all your shipping boxes until you’re sure that you’re good to go for the long term. Personally I save all my boxes, but that’s just me. You’ve probably heard the old adage: “You attract more bees with honey than with vinegar.” That’s certainly what I’ve found to be the case over the years. If you have an issue, call the manufacturer and give them the same benefit of the doubt that you’re expecting they give you. You’ll be surprised at how well things can turn out.