Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Local Business versus the Web

I'm going off on a tangent for a moment. I'm doing this because there is no substitute for good customer service. If you've been reading along though all of the posts, you'll notice that I do try to link products, that I have used, that I feel are worthy of consideration. Mostly this is due to a product meeting certain standards (mine). However, there are times when an entire company is deserving of recognition. In this case, it's Motion Pro. I know them for their throttle and clutch cables but they sell a litany of items including batteries, tools and throttle kits. However, you can have the most awesome products but without customer service to back those products up, you may as well not even be in business. Case in point; Corbin Seats. Search thru any motorcycle forum site and you'll find the general consensus is that Corbin makes an awesome product (I had one on my old Suzuki DR350SE - loved it). But, their customer service is suspect (and I think that's being kind based on what I've read). This is enough to turn off a lot of folks and they immediately look elsewhere. Full disclosure; I bought the seat 'used' off of a Suzuki DR350 forum site. It had never been installed so it was technically new. I did not pay retail price nor did I ever deal directly with Corbin's customer service department. Everything I'm relaying to you second-hand, at best.

In the age of the internet, most things are available locally as well as through the web. Most of us prefer the convenience of shopping through our computers. But, there's a price that comes with that convenience; lack of local support/retailers. If you're fortunate enough to be able to plan well in advance, you can get what you need from the 'Net. But, if you need something immediately or if you need assistance, a local retailer is your only source. With the competition from the 'Net, a lot of local retailers are having a tough go of things. The current state of the economy and the online sales tax issue are contributing to the demise of the local business owner. That said, you would think that customer service would play a large role any time a customer stepped into a retail shop.

In an effort to support a local business (my wife owns her own business which explains my preference), I checked the Motion Pro web site to determine my local dealer (they will remain nameless). They happen to be on my commute so I stopped in on my ride home one evening. I needed to buy some fuel line for the TransAlp. Yeah, I can get fuel line at any local hardware store. However, the TA already has Motion Pro line on it and also has a Motion Pro in-line quick disconnect. I figured that fuel line is a pretty basic maintenance item and would be stocked. Nope. How about an o-ring for that quick disconnect? Nope. Thinking that maybe this would be an easy get from the Motion Pro distributor, I asked how long it would take for them (the dealer) to get some fuel line in stock? The response; "Well, you'll have to place a full order." What's a 'full' order? "25 feet." I only needed about 2 feet. Blank stare. Let's try the o-ring. "Nope, we don't carry those." At this point I was sorry I even stopped in the first place. I thanked them for their time and left. The following business day I placed an order for 3 feet of 5/16" fuel line, in gray, from the Motion Pro web site. I tried to figure out if I could get a replacement o-ring for the quick disconnect but did not find anything. So, in the "notes" section of the order form, I inquired if one was available. I all honesty I was expecting them to provide a size and I'd get one at a local hardware store. I was thoroughly surprised to receive an email response that had a link to the part I needed. I asked if it was too late to add one to my order (Motion Pro states that they do their best to ship all orders on the day they were placed). The response was that the orders were filled in another location but that Motion Pro would be happy to send me one or two as a customer service gesture. Wow. I wasn't asking for a freebie, I wasn't hoping for a freebie but I got one anyway.
We're talkin' an o-ring here, what's the big deal?

It's not the part or the value of the part, it's the gesture and the extra effort that let's me know that this is a company worthy of my hard earned cash. I will be a repeat customer. Customer Service is all about the details.

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