I like the idea of honoring the companies that have the culture of extreme customer service, and also letting people know which companies have the attitude of an almost adversarial relationship with their customers. When I started my first business over 40 years ago, the type of customer service we all enjoy today was definitely not the norm. In the late 80s I remember Smith and Hawken, the gardening tool company, came out with the statement that all their tools were guaranteed for life! It was such a novel concept that I ordered Paul Hawken's book “Growing a Business” to see what the heck he was up to. Nowadays, we have many companies that have realized the mutual benefits of having outstanding customer service. Below is a list of companies that I deal with, and a short description of how their customer service rates in my experience.
Not only legendary customer service, but if they ever make a mistake, or you make a mistake, they get it fixed almost instantly.
Really nice people, I wish I could deal with them, but unfortunately their customers' needs are not a priority. Fortunately, there are metal suppliers who will bust their butts to meet their customers' needs.
Industrial Metal Supply
These guys work pretty hard for your business, which is why they are one of the largest in my area. The only gripe I have is that if you are a tiny business just starting out and can't place large orders, they really charge you very high prices, which is why I had to look elsewhere for steel and aluminum. I think they should realize that the small shops just starting out could really use a price break so that they can grow into a larger customer, and have some loyalty to the supplier who helped them out in the beginning. Instead I was just plain irked for a couple years.
Another pioneer in great customer service, I just wish they didn't send out so many catalogs. I think they could charge less on their products, and save several million trees.
This company gets the award for worst customer service of any company I have ever purchased from. (I take that back, there is one worse, see Delta Heat Treating below). Century Spring screwed up on my order, lied to me about it, and instead of spending a small amount of money to fix the problem, they now have a vocal opponent for life. A Perfect example of a company saving a small amount of money only to loose future business and get a bad reputation.
UPDATE: Apparently Century Spring has has decided to become more customer service oriented and have put people in place to implement customer friendly policies. Apparently I was not the only one unhappy with them, which makes sense. I really get excited when I see companies change their attitude toward their customers.
Now the largest machine tool builder in the world, making reliable machines here in the USA. There are more accurate machine tools, but Haas machines are an outstanding value. Service though is unusually bad, generally waiting four days for a service tech to show up.
Update: I would never buy another Haas machine as long as the local Haas service company, Machining Timesavers is in business. This company has horrid service, you can't reach their service department on the phone, numerous times I have waited on hold for over 20 minutes and then they force you to leave a message which is absurd since they never return my call . The mobile service guys are all competent and helpful, but the management, despite claims to the contrary, probably have no clue how bad their service is. One of their management should try and place a call to their technical support and see how ridiculous it is! I have complained to the Haas factory, but they don't seem to care either. It's really infuriating.
Very interesting development. I finally got so frustrated that I sent emails to a couple of people in upper management and actually got some results. I am very happy to report that my complaints have been addressed and it appears that the management is committed to improving their phone system and their response times. Congrats to these guys for listening to their customers and making some very necessary improvements.
Another Made in USA lathe builder, great customer service, they build a nice inexpensive CNC lathe.
I admire their customer service statement so much I used it for my company. No questions asked guarantee for ever on all their products! You can't get much better than that!
C & M Topline
Vibratory finishing machines and supplies. If you do metal finishing this company is top notch for products and service.
These guys are quick, nice people too. Best of all they carry the amazing cutting fluid QualiChem Extreme Cut 250.
Marubeni Citizen-Cincom Inc.
They make great lathes, their installation tech and trainer were outstanding, the sales person was very knowledgeable and helpful, but still not sure about the rest of their company, will update.
I use their Featurecam and Partmaker software, and was a little leery of dealing with such a large software company for a purchase that sometimes requires some after sale support and customer service. I must say, so far I am very impressed, they seem to have hired enough competent people to provide a very quick response time and very knowledgeable tech support.
I bought one of their EDM machines, and was very impressed with their training. I was a little intimidated by the seeming complexity of wire EDM, but their trainer made sure I was up to speed and could run the machine on my own before he left. I wish they did some follow up training, and offer more than one year of free training.
I have one of their laser marking machines. Great machine, super support, and the salesman actually still visits to make sure everything is running smartly. Even better, Made in the USA.
Interesting turn of events, I ordered some springs from them and they really screwed up the order. My first thought was that I will never buy from this company again, and what's up with these spring companies? Century spring was horrible, now these people too? Well after I emailed Access Spring about the problem, I received a call from (I think) the owner, who apologized profusely, explained how it happened and what they were going to do to make sure it doesn't happen again, and remade my order correctly the same day! I went from never wanting to do business with them to being a big fan of their company and willing to purchase again. It's a great example of how to treat a customer when you do make a mistake, and if done well, you can actually save the relationship. Very impressive, and a good lesson for us since we all make mistakes on orders at times.
The exact opposite of a company like Summit Steel, this guy will go to work at 3AM to make sure you have your parts on time, and does excellent work. I wish all my suppliers had this work ethic.
Delta Heat Treating (Mil Spec Heat Treating, Hi Tech Heat Treating )
My experience with this company (it's actually three companies under one ownership) takes the award for the single worst customer experience ever. It really shows how a supplier can not only piss you off, but can cost you hundreds of dollars, waste hours of your time, and cause late shipments to your customers because of their extremely poor customer service, and in this case downright neglegence and incompetence.
Not only did they make we wait for four hours when I went to pick up my parts, they permanently lost 350 parts, and didn't even do the heat treating properly, as some of the parts were not even close to the required hardness. This whole episode with this heat treater put a damper on the whole shop, we were busting our butts to get the pile of orders we had from Black Friday, and this really set us back. Honestly, if I screwed up this bad, the first thing I would have done is given the customer their money back and then some, like offered the next job for free, to try and convince the customer that this is not the way we do business, and to try and possibly salvage the relationship. A lot of new business is generated by word of mouth, and conversely, an angry customer will cost you business. Really, it makes me wonder how they stay in business.
Custom Cutting Tools Inc.
This company makes tools to order for your mill. They have quick turn around, finish when they say they will, and the tools are in spec. We needed some carbide form cutters for the P229 project, and their tools performed beautifully. Reasonably priced too.
Certified Metal Craft
So if you have read my review above on Delta Heat Treat, you know what a terrible and costly experience I had with getting parts heat treated by them, and that my letter of complaint to the owner got no response whatsoever. Well, I have been using a company called Certified Metal Craft in San Diego, and what a difference! This company does excellent work and is a real pleasure to work with. The office people are super nice and helpful, as is the receiving crew too. I don’t know if it’s a company policy or the people just happen to be super nice there, but I just love dealing with companies where the people that work there act like they actually appreciate you bringing your business to them, and are so helpful and considerate. It just makes being in business fun and pleasurable, instead of frustrating and unpleasant.
Certified Metal Craft, excellent work at a reasonable price, with a caring attitude, a great company!