I periodically call up the various hyperbaric distributors, dealers, and manufacturers directly and speak to their sales and customer service staff. I pretend I’m one of those mystery shoppers. Why? I like to stay in the loop about how others out in the industry are pitching their products and what they tend to focus on to get consumers to determine that their chamber or model is the best. I’m always looking for what I call a covert claim..it’s a claim that is phrased in a kind of indirect way a little more vaguely because it usually has no evidence to back it up. I then take that information and use it as a starting point in my research and review process. It could be something as simple as “We always contact our customers within 24 hours of their call if they need any assistance.” So maybe that is not the best example but I look at everything skeptically. Maybe they make that statement to cover for the reality that it’s hard to get a call back or reach anyone..and what about the weekends?
The distributor who made this statement actually was very difficult to reach by phone as it turns out. I called up a couple of the manufacturers who supplied this distributor and was able to speak to a few of its customers under the guise that I wanted to buy a chamber and wanted to talk to existing customers first. These customers told me how it could be a few days or a few hours to reach someone by phone and that usually weekends were impossible to get a hold of anyone.
I have found that companies with the best customer service don’t have to go out of their way to make fancy claims and statements about how great their service is. They just do a great job all the time! It is no coincidence that these same companies get a good percentage of their business from referrals. It only took a few years being involved in the hyperbaric industry to befriend a key sales person in each company. I used them just to gather some basic but very telling information. Think about it, why does company or dealer A get about 41% of new business from referrals while company B only does 15%?
Referral stats are the dead give away in this business provided that no one is providing illegal discount levels for chamber sales. Discounts on chambers can be regulated so it is not like company A is giving thousands of dollars for a referral to produce those numbers. It’s also no coincidence that when I speak to the sales staff at company A no one tries to push me into buy a chamber, they are just chatting to get to know me and my situation better.
The other major thing I learned about which companies were serious about providing the best customer service and their reputation in that regard is that only a few actively had a program in place to improve this area of service in their businesses. What I mean is that just because a company wants to provide better service not all of them actually have a program and plan in place to do just that. To date I have only discovered 3 companies that had at least a basic customer service quality metric analysis plan. That’s a mouthful..
Like for example when I was being a mystery shopper with company A while on the same call when I finished up with the customer service portion, the staff Manager got on the line and proceeded to ask me some questions about my experience calling in, that centered around if I had been completely helped.
Company B sent me to an automated phone survey about my experience which was pretty thorough with around 15 questions.
Company C gave me a separate call back with a customer service Manager leaving 2 voicemails and finally reaching me interviewed me about my whole experience working with them.
These companies are trying to be better…and that would matter to me still owning my chamber years down the road knowing that the company I purchased from would have improved their customer service even more so.
I know which companies are the best to deal with I even know how much these places pay their employees. Buying a good quality chamber for sure is priority number 1. Priority number 2 is to know who stands behind your warranty and what your customer service experience will be like. Everyone needs help with the usage of their chamber at some point so it is important to consider who will be their for you years down the road.