Customers Want Solutions


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Loyalty to a great laptop computer got totally trashed by the service around a lousy replacement part!

I bought a new laptop in early January and immediately ordered a back-up power pack—one for the office and one for the road! The cord that goes from the wall outlet to the power pack arrived in a week or so. But, I learned the power pack with the cord to plug into the laptop was on back order. A call one month later was met with the same response—on back order.

Two months out, another call, same answer. Three months out, another call, same answer. But, April and May were super busy and I forgot to call. Not, that is, until an emergency happened. I was on a three day client engagement and discovered I had accidently left my only power pack in the office. A colleague suggested I check with the local Radio Shack. Miraculaously, they had a univeral in stock and it worked perfectly. I also learned it was an item they had been carrying for a couple of years.

I made one more call to the computer company—now five months after the replacement part had been ordered—to cancel the back order. But, the “bad boy” in me came out during the call. “If I gave you personally one million dollars to come up with a solution to my power pack problem,” I asked the parts clerk, “what could you recommend?” His answer: “I would have given you the tracking number so you could check on the backorder yourself.”

I was stunned. But, I was not finished. “Were you aware that Radio Shack had a universal power pack for this particular laptop?” I asked curtly. “Yes, I did,” he replied, “but we cannot guarantee their parts.” I made one last lunge with my complaint sword. “So, you let me go five months waiting on a part that probably will never come because of YOUR guarantee? What about customer service?”

“Is there anything else I can help you with today?” he asked, as if he never even heard my last query.

He was the sole spokesperson for this well-known, global computer company and he focused exclusively on “the part” and not “the customer.” He could tell his supervisor with great confidence that he had “done all his tasks” and perfectly. And, yet, despite my affection for the laptop, my next one will sport a different brand. Customers don’t want service providers that complete tasks—even perfectly. They want solutions!

Chip Bell
Chip R. Bell is the founder of the Chip Bell Group ( and a renowned keynote speaker and customer loyalty consultant. Dr. Bell has authored several best-selling books including The 9 1/2 Principles of Innovative Service and, with John Patterson, Take Their Breath Away. His newest book, Sprinkles: Creating Awesome Experiences Through Innovative Service, will be released in February.


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