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XDEEP - adding excellent customer service to an excellent product

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I have a passion for customer service. When it's poor I will brutalise a company for it. When it's good I will promote them at every opportunity.

This comes from years of working as a consultant for companies and seeing organisation after organisation fall behind their competition because they failed to think long term about their customer interactions. Sadly, in the diving world, the service is all too often terrible. You see, companies that understand customer service recognise that keeping people happy is worth more than short term profit. A happy customer will come back time and time again. They will recommend you to their friends and colleagues. They will write articles like this. They are an income generator. A dissatisfied customer will tell LOTS of people to avoid you. A poor service experience leads not to apathy in most people but to a willingness to retract past positive comments, and to propagate warnings. you might love the idea of a product but if a good friend gives you a passionate warning to avoid that company then you will think twice. A negative customer experience is a dangerous thing.

Despite customer service levels being generally poor in the diving industry, there are exceptions. We all have a dive shop where they make you a cup of tea and chat to you rather than hard sell. We tend to be fiercely loyal to those shops for a reason. Few people if anyone would complain about dealing directly with Halcyon or Santi. They are not the cheapest brands in the world, but you are not just paying for the product, but the service around it. You see, we remember stories about excellent customer service. I know recently that my friend James Sanderson gave his wing back to Halcyon to see if they can repair it. I know for a fact that his wing was as old as he is and has been abused at every stage of its life. From the pictures James has posted online it looks like Halcyon either just gave him a new one or replaced so many parts of the wing it might as well be a new one. Most companies would have just said "you need a new one". 

One company, however, has just blown me away. Again.

A few months back my XDEEP black developed a problem. This was a known issue with the early units (mine was one of the first in the UK) and so XDEEP told me to pop it in the post and they swap out the battery, which they had changed the spec of after the first few units were produced. So far so good, but then it all went wrong. I sent the unit to the wrong address - their business office rather than the service office. Worst still, there was no sign of the unit at that address. Somewhere between posting to Poland and receiving it, it had disappeared. Because XDEEP had not been great at keeping me informed I was, in all honesty, a little suspicious that they had misplaced themselves, but I've sent stuff to Poland in the past and had it vanish, so knew it was possible. I had also misplaced all the postage records, like an idiot. That seemed to be that. The unit gone. 

I asked XDEEP to keep looking and keep me informed. They didn't. I took this as both a bad sign, and also poor customer service. 

Until today, when a completely unexpected and unasked for brand new unit arrived through the post, compliments of XDEEP. Talk about turning a negative experience into a positive one. They obviously never bothered contacting me because they had just decided to send me another one. This is my favourite type of customer experience. Where an organisation has seen a negative experience and deliberately turned it into a positive one. That's known in the customer service world as creating not just loyalty, but fanatical loyalty, and it's awesome to see someone in the diving industry do it. XDEEP are not alone in this. I once had a skipper mess up my booking, and just as I was quietly deciding never to use him again he called me out of the blue and told me he had a free space for a weekend and would I like it as say sorry. Every now and again if things have been delayed at NDAC they just tell me to go away when I ask for my gas bill. Negative into a positive.

Now, in the spirit of honesty, you could be cynical and say "Yeah, Garf the GUE instructor get a free unit, couldn't be anything to do with the fact that the first thing he would do is write an article and then tell everyone he meets for the next year, and most of the people he teaches are XDEEP's target market". Well, so what. Someone at XDEEP recognised that and decided it was worth sending me another unit to keep me happy rather than leaving me irritated. Plenty of other companies wouldn't have bothered despite the true being same for their products. What's more, this isn't the first time XDEEP have blown me away. When I lost the connector for USB a while back I asked XDEEP to send me another one and a box with about half a dozen arrived. When I queried it they said "you might as well have a few in case you lose it again in your travels". Other people I know have had similar experiences so clearly someone at XDEEP has the foresight to recognise that looking after your customers is good for business. 

The end result? I have a new XDEEP BT, which I have already raved about elsewhere as a product.I"m back to showing it to people every weekend. Back to people asking me about it after every fundies course. Aside from the product, more and more I am also impressed with the company. Combine the two, and you really have a force to be reckoned with, and one their competitors should be very worried about.

XDEEP BT can be seen on their page, and can be bought in the UK at my two favourite shops, DiveLife and Underwater Explorers

 

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Gareth Burrows is a GUE Instructor trainer, and a personal diving coach for recreational and technical divers of all levels, specialising in improving buoyancy control, trim and stability, in-water confidence, and ascent management. He has trained with PADI, TDI, IANTD and GUE as well as serving as a DO in a BSAC branch. He has been diving cold water wrecks in Europe and around the UK for over a decade, and can usually be found diving out of Brighton, Portland or Plymouth. He is qualifying later this year as a cave diver and looking to become a GUE tech1 instructor in the 18 months. He has trained or coached hundreds of divers from newly qualified open water divers, to course directors and technical instructors.

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