I don’t know about where you are, but it is absolutely gorgeous out today, and I’m almost over my plague. Let’s concentrate on happy stories today.
- There is nothing that warms the cockles of my black heart more than seeing an example of extreme customer service. This could be as simple as acknowledging a mistake and making good; it could be going out of your way to deal with a customer that’s determined to be a jerk¹. Sometimes you didn’t even make a mistake and instead, found a way to do something better; the old way was good, people that you dealt with then were dealt with fairly, but you want to give ‘em a little something anyway. That’s where customer service enters the heroic realm², which I saw an example of today.
Back up a couple of years, and Penny Arcade sold some polo shirts that their more office-job-type fans could wear to work. Nice, understated game controller logo stitched on the left breast, breathable cotton, decent color selection. They sold well. But the PA people weren’t 100% satisfied with them, so after they sold out they went away for about a year for retooling:
When asked for comment about the improvements made in v2.0, Penny Arcade’s President of Operations and Business Development Robert Khoo addressed the issues seen in v1.0, stating the “the v1.0s had really specific care instructions, because the materials we selected weren’t treated to be preshrunk. Well… it turns out folks hated the idea of dealing with care instructions, so for the v2.0s we switched to a higher quality cotton that shrinks less and is quite a bit softer.”
So far, so good; product improvement ought to be everybody’s goal. But now that the second iteration of the shirts are coming online, Penny Arcade decided to do something extraordinary: they’ve decided that everybody that bought one of the first version of the shirt is entitled to a free shirt upgrade [PDF]. Short version: cut out the logo on the 1.0 version of the shirt, include it with your name and address on a form, and bam! New shirt.
No fee, no shipping on domestic orders (US$10 flat for international), and you’ve got until 30 June to take advantage. The new shirts aren’t up at the PA store just yet, but as far as loss leaders go, I can’t think of a better demonstration to your customer base to convey the idea We will take care of you³.
- As I told many, many people4 on many, many occasions, I loves me some Digger, concluded or no. Of course, just because Ursula Vernon is out of the regular webcomickin’ game doesn’t mean that she’s off my radar — I follow creators I love into their other, not-webcomicky projects, be those comic books or gallery shows or animation or whatever. The POV and voice of the creator is the important part, not the particular medium they choose to work in today. Anyway: Ursula Vernon.
She’s the subject of a retrospective in April, on the campus of Lamar University’s Dishman Art Museum in scenic Beaumont, Texas (which I’m reliably informed is about 90 minutes east of Houston or four hours west of New Orleans). Show runs from 4 — 26 April, with a reception5 on the 6th, from 7:00 to 9:00pm.
The show, which is co-curated by Larry “mckenzee” Holderfield[see below], will incorporate local signings, previews of Vernon’s latest Dragonbreath book, and a single-page comic contest for the kids. Details on the flyer (front, back), which somehow neglect to include what might be the show’s centerpiece: a brief history of the Biting Pear. Now all I need to do is get my job to send me to Texas next month.
Edit to add: I inexcusably truncated Larry Holderfield’s name in the original posting; we at Fleen apologize for the mistake.
¹ May I recommend to you the Nerd of Advice podcast on this very topic?
² And I’m going to acknowledge up front that almost nobody smaller than a mid-sized corporation has the resources to engage in this kind of customer service. That alone doesn’t explain its rarity, as those that do have the resources typically don’t.
³ Where the “we” probably refers mostly to Brian Sunter, who is seemingly everywhere that merchandise and fulfillment occur on PA’s behalf. He’s like a magical shipping ghost made out of Khoo’s sentient shadow.
4 That one’s for you, Ivy.
5 Read: “Food and booze”.