Brita Case Study: Great Customer Service Is Essential for All Businesses

by Derek Halpern · 26 comments

Brita Water Filter

The other day, I purchased a Brita water filter for my kitchen sink. To my dismay, when I tried to attach it to my faucet, it didn’t fit.

“How disappointing,” I thought. I was going to return my water filter, but at the last minute, I decided to call Brita’s customer service.

And that’s where the magic happened…

Once I described my problem to the helpful Brita customer support rep, she offered to send me some attachments that would allow my filter to fit on my faucet. The best part? It was absolutely free. I didn’t even pay shipping and handling.

I couldn’t help but think there was a catch, but there wasn’t. They didn’t even verify my purchase. They simply asked for a mailing address, and then told me that I will receive my attachments in the mail in the next 7-10 days. Win!

Why Remarkable Customer Service is Essential

My experience with Brita got me thinking, and I realized that outstanding customer service is essential for all businesses—online and offline.

“Why,” you ask?

I give you three reasons:

1. Twitter
2. Facebook
3. Blogs

If you annoy your customers, they’ll use those three tools to tell everyone about it. On the flip side, if you impress them, they’ll share that, too. And that’s why I wrote this article. Brita impressed me, and we should follow their example.

How about you? How do you filter through your customer support requests? (heh, I said filter!).

About the Author: Derek Halpern ran marketing at DIYthemes, and is the founder of Social Triggers. To get more tips on how to be confident, sign up to his list here.

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{ 26 comments }

Beth Andrus

I love this story. I had a similarly awesome experience with Rosetta Stone’s customer service a couple of months ago. And you’re right, I raved about them on Twitter, Facebook and my blog. So, beside the fact that it’s just the right way to do business, you will do your company a huge marketing favor, and gain life-long customers. Thanks for the post.

Derek

The problem is, helpful customer service is expensive, which is why you rarely encounter it. Good to hear that news about Rosetta, though.

Rob McCance

I had a similar experience at a NTB Tire store, believe it or not. It makes a huge difference!

Matt Curtis

“I couldn’t help but think there was a catch, but there wasn’t.”

I think the catch here is that you were planning on drinking refreshing, filtered water at that moment and instead you had to wait 7-10 days to do so.

I agree with your evaluation of the performance of their customer service team, but this scenario brings up an interesting point: had you not experienced a problem initially, you would have never dealt with the CSR, and consequently would not have written this article. Brita would have never gotten the positive PR.

Does that mean that companies should create minor, disjoint problems between their customers and products to encourage positive interactions? Wouldn’t your utility have been higher had the filter fit the first time?

Derek

I disagree. The reason why the filter didn’t fit on my faucet is because I have an unusually sized faucet. I looked it up.

Would it make sense for them to include these attachments in the package? No. They do include some, but they weren’t the right size for my faucet.

Do I think companies should create minor problems? No… But if minor problems do exist, they should handle it quickly without questions.

Peter Levesque

Derek,

This is a great example of customer service not just seeing you as a “purchaser of a product” but as a potential ongoing relationship to their business. The rep didn’t ask you to verify the purchase because why would you call unless you had a filter already – really, who does that? If you have a filter that works, you will buy replacement filters. If it works well you tell a few friends. It it does not, you tell everyone – using social networks.

I recently had a runaround experience with my mobile phone company. I switched phones from a Palm device to an Andriod device and my contract more than doubled despite similar use. I called customer service for three months to try and get the billing issue resolved. After finding no satisfaction, I tweeted how disappointed I was and within 10 minutes I got a reply. Some back and forth ended with a phone call stating that the billing would return to my previous rate – a savings of almost $1500 a year. One tweet + two direct messages = $1500 savings.

I think what changed was that I went from a single “purchaser” to having a negative relationship that was shared with thousands.

The emphasis in social media is on the social – the relationship matters.

Derek

I’m quite surprised you had a pleasant experience with a mobile phone company. To date, I’ve hated every experience I’ve ever had, and I’ve dealt with three major providers.

Farnoosh

You know, Derek, not all of the service providers are evil. They do provide a ton of services, they help us solve problems and while I have yelled obscenities I shall not repeat here at AT&T and others, I think it’s good to keep a perspective and just as you say, how important customer service is, it’s also important for us to have a good attitude when we are asking and are recipients of that service! And no, I never have and never will work for a phone service provider but it’s good to have a better attitude that’s all :) !

Paula

Great article and is actually very relevant for a very negative experience with a company that I’m experiencing. You see each year we pick an issue or issues and volunteer our time and dedicate space to bring awareness to an issue that affects health or wellness to our very large readership. I’m working on an important article right now to about an issue that affects the health of the environment, specifically in our oceans, and that affects all of us in some shape or form. Since the whales can’t talk–at least in ways we humans can understand, we have to tell their stories. We generally work through our ad agencies to obtain photos for important news stories but when our ad agency couldn’t get an answer back regarding licensing photos for our volunteer project story, we decided to contact them ourselves.

Fame pictures is the company—according to their website their strength in this “very competitive business is reputation” and they also go on to say things about reliability and professionalism.

What’s absolutely mind boggling is that we’ve been trying to get an answer on pricing on a simple question about licensing photos for weeks now. Initially someone will respond, then they simply ignore any requests for information and don’t respond. It’s really a shame because we have agreements with Istock photo, have used Getty Images as well as other photo organizations over the many years we’ve been in business. But I can say that I’ve never simply had an experience like this where prospective customers are simply ignored. I usually am of the mindset if I can’t say anything pleasant about a business that I won’t say anything at all, and if it were not about such an important issue as what’s happening to the whales– I wouldn’t even mention it.

But I guess there is also a side to the story that readers here may also need photos of events that are not always accessible on general image sharing sites, so knowing how fame pictures treats their customers just may save many of you the frustration that we’ve had if you know this in advance.

Happy New Year to all, and may there be more companies like Brita who understand the value of a customer!

Florentina

This is such a great lesson. I had the opposite experience with Aweber, I would never in a million years recommend them but tweeted about my experience to my 10,000+ followers that retweeted it to their followers.
I now recommend Constant Contact b/c of their great customer service.

Derek

Personally, I’ve had nothing but great experiences with Aweber and their customer support. I also like the deliverability on their emails.

Wes M

Mine is with our friends from Amazon,

Twice I didn’t got my shipment (due local post office madness) and they refunded me in full without any documents or anything required.

Usually you have to get and prepare one whole little world of docs to get something like insurance or reimbursement back, but here – nothing.

kyle p.

I had an issue with Toyota and could not get a proper response or any response through the normal channels of the local dealer and their corporate office. Eventually I tweeted about the issue and never saw a response. Two weeks later, after increased frustration, I tweeted again and got an immediate response. Their social media team handled my issue and corrected everything that day, which was a potential $1,200 repair. I was very grateful and it helped restore my faith in Toyota.

Several people retweeted my 2nd tweet and maybe that’s what prompted a response? I believe there’s more of a fear of social media than reality. It seems the corporate direction is to stamp out any spark before it turns into a wildfire. It’ll be interesting to see how companies respond in a year or two when social media complaints are more common.

Julie Groth

Absolutely true. I think part of the reason, when we get good service somewhere, is that it stands out now. There is so little service these days that companies that provide good service do stand out.

I will say that I’ve received great service from DIYthemes! I had a complicated interface and my web guy went back and forth with the DIYtheme support with their help every day. (I did say it was complicated). Finally, the tech support said that the new version coming out would fix the problem. Sure enough, 2 days later, the new version came out. We loaded it and it worked!

Lorian Rivers

Thank heavens there are still companies that offer the good service. I have been dealing with Western Union and the “nightmare before Christmas” regarding money wired to my son for Christmas….or NOT wired as the case may be. I have never in all my years encountered a bigger cluster than the entire customer support (HA) staff of Western Union. Do yourself a favor and if you need to send money figure out another way to do it! And yes, I posted this to FB and Twitter also!

Kelly

This seems a highly ironic article for DIYthemes. Yes, good customer service is absolutely essential to most businesses, but my – and many others’ – experience purchasing Thesis theme was on the wrong side of that fence. Early purchasers were promised a magazine version of the theme, then after purchase we were told there was no second version. I was even offered my money back, but when I asked for it, there was no reply.

Derek

Hi Kelly,

You must be referring to Cosmo. When that was originally thought up, Chris Pearson wanted to keep it separate from Thesis. However, after developing the product, he realized that he could build it into Thesis (Features and Teasers and etc) without making it a separate file. That made a lot more sense, and was much easier for 99.9% of the people who use Thesis.

Kelly

Right, but the no-reply to taking up the offer of a refund was really poor service. I’m not asking for explanations for past behavior. I’m just saying that in my experience, DIYthemes hasn’t had good customer service, and this post therefore seems ironic. Perhaps the boss could learn from it.

Derek

Two things. First, you’re anonymous. Second, I doubt your request for refund was ignored. If you’d like to take this up, with proof, via email, I’d love to talk to you. However, chances are, I think you’re just trolling. I emailed you—the email you put into your comment field didn’t seem to work—and I have yet to hear back.

Stan Phelps

Great post. Brita gets it. Do the little extras.

You need to give your customers something to ‘talk, tweet, blog and post to Facebook about

Stan
@9INCHmarketing

‘The longest and hardest 9 inches in marketing . . . is the distance between the brain and the heart of your customer’

Pedro T

This is the best way to prove that a good costumer service is the way to sucess. Being able to understand the needs and above all, provide clients with a good thing to remember. Most companies nowadays consider clients only as clients. But they should be considered as partners because it´s from their satisfaction that companies can grow.

drdoctormd

I had a few of those *great* customer service experiences over the holidays:
A store employee coming in early noticed me looking at the hours of operation on the window–he opened the store 30 minutes early for me. I bought 3 ties.

A store employee (owner?) honored a competitor’s $20 off coupon on the spot. It was a sunglasses establishment and it was completely spontaneous as the customer entered this store thinking it was the competitor.

I noticed at several mid-level retail stores, the cashiers came around the counter to hand me my bag and shake my hand to complete transactions.

Maybe the silver lining of a recession?

software all

I had an issue with Toyota and could not get a proper response or any response through the normal channels of the local dealer and their corporate office. Eventually I tweeted about the issue and never saw a response. Two weeks later, after increased frustration, I tweeted again and got an immediate response. Their social media team handled my issue and corrected everything that day, which was a potential $1,200 repair. I was very grateful and it helped restore my faith in Toyota.

Several people retweeted my 2nd tweet and maybe that’s what prompted a response? I believe there’s more of a fear of social media than reality. It seems the corporate direction is to stamp out any spark before it turns into a wildfire. It’ll be interesting to see how companies respond in a year or two when social media complaints are more common.

Lisa

I too recently purchased a Brita water filter that does not fit my kitchen faucet. I too will be contacting them.

Thanks,
Lisa

allie

Thanks for sharing your story on a positive customer service experience. You are absolutely correct that consumers use social media tools to praise or bash companies, very often because of their customer service experience. I am quite loyal to zappos.com because they are so darn good at customer service. They are an incredibly reliable and efficient company and truly care about each customer transaction. I ordered a pair of shoes a few weeks ago and they arrived at my doorstep the next morning. From the time I ordered to the time my shoes arrived, I received email updates on where my shoes were in transit. I also received an email when the shoes had been delivered. You mentioned that good customer service is expensive, which is why we don’t often experience it, but it really doesn’t take much. In fact, investing the time and effort to offer great customer service is going to save you a ton of money in the long run.

Sean Carty

I love when a company treats you that way. I ran into some serious issues with US Airways when they overbooked my flight, but within minutes they had me rebooked on a direct flight to my destination (better than the one layover flight I was going to be taking!) and went above and beyond by issuing to both me and my girlfriend $400 travel vouchers. It made my day, and I have been telling everyone I know (twitter, facebook, blogs :) .