Paul Butler: Stuff happens

Paul Butler is a Santa Clarita resident and a client partner with Newleaf Training and Development of Valencia (newleaftd.com). The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Signal newspaper. For questions or comments, email Butler at [email protected]
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I have three memories of my college marketing class: the mullet, the tweed and the 4P’s. I had the mullet. The professor wore the tweed. The textbook listed the 4P’s. This handy-dandy list is still etched on the inside of my eye lids and helped me pass the exam — promotion, product, price and place.

I have three memories of my college marketing class: the mullet, the tweed and the 4P’s. I had the mullet. The professor wore the tweed. The textbook listed the 4P’s. This handy-dandy list is still etched on the inside of my eye lids and helped me pass the exam — promotion, product, price and place.

The 4P’s summarized what marketeers understood as the fundamentals to guarantee a sale. They espoused that if we promoted the product correctly at the right price and made it available at the right place it’s sure to sell.

This makes sense in theory and has proven to be true in practice although I have found there to be two more P’s especially during service recovery — process and people. Firstly though, what do I mean by service recovery? Well, like the bumper sticker says — “stuff happens.” At least that’s what I think it says — maybe I need some new reading glasses?

As consumers, I am sure we can all relate to “service recovery” — this is when we ask the seller to correct an issue we have with their service or product. To me, this really separates the excellent organization from the mediocre one. How an organization recovers our consumer trust can literally be a game-changer and can either “win” a customer for life or “lose” a customer for life.

We experienced a good and not so good example of this in the Butler household recently, that demonstrated service recovery. Firstly, the good experience. I have always admired a certain brand of travel luggage. It’s cool. It’s hardy. It’s highly practical. On a recent business trip, I think, to be honest I overstretched its hardiness and the handle bust.

We contacted the company and their service recovery process was simple and superb. The form we had to fill-in online was super-easy. They didn’t try to get out of replacing the product even though I believe I was to blame. Within a week a brand-new product turned up at the door. The person who administered the service recovery process was second to none. It was a person and a process that recovered my trust in their brand and as a result I am unlikely to travel to a competitor any time soon. People and process were the 2 extra P’s.

Now for the not so good experience. I wear a wireless headset when I am teaching webinars from our office or just need to focus on a task at hand. My connection to this brand started about 20 years ago but like many brands that were once household names, I’m not so sure they’re going to be around for much longer as their products are proving to nowadays, not be so great. After about three months of use, the headset just refused to be charged. It just died. I couldn’t get any power into it. I contacted their after-sales support and their service recovery was also fantastic! The person who handled my call was Johnny-on-the-spot. I was very impressed. A brand-new replacement product turned up at my door a few days later.

Unfortunately, the problem showed itself again at about the same three-month mark. The headset, just like the first one refuses to take any power so rather like its predecessor — it just died. I filled in the online form just last night. I am sure I will speak with Johnny again this week, but now; I just want my money back as the product simply sucks. Their service recovery process and people who administered it were great but their product has failed me — they fell within the first 4P’s.

So, the mullet has gone. I’m not sure too many people wear tweed anymore. What I believe has stood the test of time is what was in that textbook (the 4P’s of promotion, product, price and place). I just think I’d be tempted to scratch in the margin now, two additional P’s — process and people especially around the service recovery stage when “stuff happens.”

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