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Consumer Delivery - Part 24 - Don't Make The Delivery

Furniture World Magazine


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Not delivering today may be your best customer relations move.

It may strike you as madness for me to suggest you don't deliver, but there are times when that's your best customer relations move.

Let's say that on pre-loading inspection you find a piece is defective. Don't make the delivery. Make a phone call instead. Explain the situation candidly and assure your customer you'll expedite a replacement.

Yes, your customer will be disappointed or even damn annoyed- especially if there was a long wait for the furniture. But that's easier to deal with than ill will incurred by delivering a damaged piece.

There are exceptions to the "Don't deliver" rule. If the damage is discovered on the site and the piece can be properly serviced in the home, since your men are already there they should make the delivery-and should point out both the problem and the solution. This could give the customer immediate use of the piece and spare you the expense of bringing it back.

If the piece can't be fixed but is usable, making the delivery and offering to leave it on loan until it's replaced makes for good customer relations.

Anyone who's ever bought a new car or has had new clothing altered realizes Murphy's Law applies to everything including furniture. They understand case goods get scratched, knockdown pieces leave factories in sealed cartons with parts missing, shelves aren't always level, drawers don't always slide smoothly, etc, etc, etc.

These "problems" are hardly problems at all. Most can be dealt with immediately by your driver or a prompt service call.

Decisions on taking a flawed piece to the door, leaving it on loan, scheduling service calls or trying to fix things shouldn't be left to the delivery crew. Guidelines should be clearly spelled out in their manual. And it's a good idea to give customers, at the time of sale, a store policy statement on delivery, damages, repairs and replacements. It could save everybody time and headaches.

I'm all for delivering the goods. But if delivery won't lead to customer satisfaction and potential repeat business, don't make it. Years of furniture delivery experience, and even more years of experience as a consumer, have me convinced-better a disappointed or even damn annoyed customer than a lost one.

Furniture World is the oldest, continuously published trade publication in the United States. It is published for the benefit of furniture retail executives. Print circulation of 20,000 is directed primarily to furniture retailers in the US and Canada.  In 1970, the magazine established and endowed the Bernice Bienenstock Furniture Library (www.furniturelibrary.com) in High Point, NC, now a public foundation containing more than 5,000 books on furniture and design dating from 1620. For more information contact editor@furninfo.com.