Sometimes a company surprises you by showing you that they value your business. This is how Fitbit transformed me from a customer into a cheerleader.
This is part one of a multi-part post about customer service and how to treat your customers like a valued person rather than a line in a database.
Or: “How Fitbit transformed me from a customer into a cheerleader.”
When it comes to technology, there are generally a few kinds of people.
- There are early adopters: people who see the promise of a new, often unproven technology, and adopt it. They help blaze the trail for others. They find the things that work and they find the things that don’t.
- Some are trendsetters and testers: people whose advice on technological matters usually have a large impact on what other users do or do not use or purchase. They have experience in technology and generally let the experiences of the early adopters inform their opinions.
- Others are cautious: waiting for a technology to be proven and well adopted before dipping a toe into the waters themselves.
Most people are technologically cautious, waiting for whichever trendsetter(s) they listen to to advise them. Technology needs all three to succeed in the modern world. I would consider myself a bit of an early adopter, but overall I’m a tester. I’m often the first person in my group of friends and co-workers to have tried a given technology, and my opinions on that technology help others decide if they’re going to try it for themselves.
So what the heck does all this have to do with Fitbit and taking care of business?
I was an early adopter of Fitbit.
I bought Fitbits for Heather and I shortly after the Fitbit One was introduced. We fell in love with them, and our graph-addicted brains fixated on the data and gamification of our daily activity. It was a resounding success, and combined with all the other changes in our lives, the results were dramatic.
Fast forward 12 1/2 months.
Heather and I were taking a long walk to visit my father and drop off a movie at a Redbox location. We got about 2 miles out and I thought to check my Fitbit to see how many steps I’d picked up. I was dismayed to see that the screen wouldn’t respond and it seemed to be dead. I decided I must have forgotten to charge it and we finished our walk home. Once we got there, I plugged it in and noted that it powered on immediately. 30 minutes later, it was charged and I pulled it out to put back in its bumper and it blanked out.
Some Google searches quickly revealed that I wasn’t the only one- the early batches of Ones were prone to charging failures that were impossible to rectify. I looked up my order online and saw that my One was just a bit over a year old.. and it had a one-year warranty.
I resigned myself to having to buy another. “Screw Fitbit,” I said to Heather, “.. I’m not buying another if it’s just going to become a $100 a year revolving charge!” Being an early adopter had worked against me in this case, I thought. I had proudly shown off my Fitbit to friends, family, and coworkers, a surprising number of whom bought their own Fitbits. But now I felt like a heel. The product I had fallen in love with had died on me and my recommendation wasn’t worth the time it took to listen.
I decided to do something I almost never do:
I contacted Fitbit’s support department.
IT pros are generally loathe to contact support departments (Why? That’s another series of blog posts!) I decided that I should try in this case, since Fitbit has a reputation of taking care of customers, especially their early adopters. I wrote a polite email explaining the issue and noting that I’d bought my Fitbit early and loved it, but was out of warranty. “Are there any other tricks I can try?” I begged at the end.
Four days later I had a brand new, retail packaged Fitbit One in hand. I didn’t have to send the other one back. They didn’t send a refurb. I got the whole kit- the unit, the bumper, charging cable, you name it.
Fitbit was under zero obligation to help me, but they took a unit off the shelf and sent it to me without batting an eye. They took the loss because they know that by eating that extra One they sent me, they made sure that I’m going to tell everyone I know about the great service I had (on top of how I won’t shut up about how much I love the thing itself.)
Not only did Fitbit change me from a Customer to a Cheerleader, they made me happy to do it.
Next time, I’ll have a similar tale about a company that surprised me with their service.