A Case for Customer Service

Case knife

I’m fortunate to work for a company built by genuinely nice people who come from an entrepreneurial, small business background. Because of that, AppRiver makes customer service a top priority. In fact, we have maintained a 93-percent customer retention rate since the company was founded 10 years ago. And just in case you don’t think that’s impressive, keep in mind that we have more than 45,000 corporate customers worldwide.

Given the focus AppRiver puts on treating its customers right, I’ve come to expect that level of service from other businesses, only to be disappointed frequently when it doesn’t happen. Every now and then, though, I run across a company that shares AppRiver’s commitment to creating a lasting relationship, one that goes the extra mile to make you feel like you’re more than just a credit card number and an email address.

Recently, I wrote a story about my experience as a youngster in keeping up with and taking care of my pocketknives. On a lark, I sent it to W.R. Case & Sons, maker of every knife I ever remember my father carrying. I felt like it was a quality product and just wanted to let them know that it was an icon of my childhood.

I figured my note would get filed away in the annals of corporate headquarters somewhere, so imagine my surprise when I got a call from Fred Feightner with Case. His title is Consumer Marketing and Communications Manager, but mainly he’s just a hell of a nice guy.

We talked for a bit about knives, my father, fishing and Florida. He didn’t try to sell me anything, but he did answer my questions about the steel used in Case’s blades. (The Chromium Vanadium or CV blades are what we called “carbon steel.”  They’re easier to sharpen and I learned that Case still produces them.)

By the end of the conversation, it occurred to me that this is the epitome of good customer service. There’s an old saying that you do the most business with people you know, like and trust. For the price of a few minutes of his time, a measure of thoughtfulness and interest in his customers, Fred turned an occasional buyer into a raving fan. In fact, I bought two Case pocketknives (with the CV blades) as gifts for Father’s Day.

It helps that Case knives are high-quality and handmade in the US, but those advantages can be erased quickly with one bad experience.

It’s a small thing, but in many ways, customer service is everything — especially in an era where it’s becoming harder to find.  AppRiver has built a business around that philosophy. And if Case’s 123 years in business are any indication, it’s a solid strategy.

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