The Customer Is Always Right

Originally Published in the October 1992 issue of The Outfitter Magazine.

 

It happens occasionally in every business: for whatever reason, a customer gets a product that just doesn’t meet expectations. But if that customer is dealing with Xerox, he or she isn’t stuck with the product. That’s a promise, embodied in the company’s Total Satisfaction Guarantee.

Introduction in September, 1990, the guarantee states, “If you are not satisfied with your Xerox equipment, at your request Xerox will replace without charge to you with identical model or a machine with comparable features and capabilities.” The guarantee applies to all Xerox equipment, including machines purchased from dealers and retailers for three years from delivery.

While most consumer products today carry some kind of guarantee, the conditions under which a product will be repaired or replaced are usually limited by the manufacturer. Not so with Xerox.

“The Xerox Total Satisfaction Guarantee is the only guarantee I know of that is entirely based on the customer’s satisfaction”, says Fumio Go, a marketing consultant who has studied the guarantee and its impact on Xerox business. “If a customer’s expectations aren’t met, Xerox will replace the machine, no questions asked.”

The guarantee reflects the commitment to quality that has allowed Xerox to recapture dominance in the world copier market. Facing tough competition in the mid-1970’s, notably from Japanese manufacturers, Xerox launched an aggressive internal campaign in the early 1980s to improve the quality of its products and services. Since then, more that 7,000 quality improvement teams have been launched within the company.

Leadership Through Quality

The ultimate goal of Xerox Canada Ltd. is to produce 100 percent customer satisfactions. Xerox Corporation is also targeting a fourfold improvement in reliability and 50 percent reduction in unit manufacturing costs. Ambitious? Perhaps. But the company has made tremendous strides in the last several years, including 78 percent decrease in unscheduled maintenance and a 27 percent reduction (nearly two hours) in service response.

How can Xerox afford to offer a guarantee that says, in effect, “The customer is always right”?

“Xerox could never have offered this guarantee if they hadn’t first put the work processes in place to stay in front of customer problems,” says Fumio Go. “In a way the guarantee is a challenge to the customer to challenge Xerox.”

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