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John Sciacca Writes...

Features, Reviews and a Blog by John Sciacca

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Niles + Problem = Wow! Really?

Posted on August 26, 2010 at 12:18 PM

Things break. It happens. As long as imperfect people are involved, at some point something can fail. And it doesn’t matter how much you paid for it or how built-like-a-tank it’s supposed to be, sometimes things just break. And sometimes company’s respond to this in a lame manner like “What problem? Here! Have a free phone cozy and stop touching the phone in that spot, you moron! But whatever you say, get this through your bone-dense head:’s...fault! Press conference over!” Other times, they handle it the right way. The Niles way.


So yes, I’ve pointed out some of their foibles in the past. And, yes, I might have compared them to a certain large and doomed ocean liner. But really, let ye among us who has not compared a massive, industry founding leader of a company to an iceberg smashing luxury liner cast the first stone…  But, even in that, Niles responded in a Niles-ey fashion with a terrific bit of e-mail repartee from their President.


But recently Niles rose above the level of service I would ever expect to solve a problem for a customer. And, lest you think this was me bullying and threatening another company (Scoot Moody: Back a brother up here... ) this was a transaction I wasn’t even involved in.

So, a wee bit o’ back story on previous ways that Niles has provided me with miles of smiles. (Coincidentally, I have a cousin named Niles. He was a very, ummm, effeminate boy amongst a manly-man family of 7 brothers. When others were playing football he was literally playing with Barbies. They used to taunt him with “Niles is miles of little brown piles…” The teasing could have easily led to a Kurtz-like state of living in an isolated outpost surrounded by severed heads. But, uh, it didn’t. ) So, we prewired a customer for our first ZR-6 multi-zone audio system. At the time, Niles was planning on making this $20 piece of plastic that would gang two controllers together. So we installed double-gang wall boxes all throughout the house. Then, they decided they weren’t going to make this $20 piece of plastic. So I had 8 double gang holes to fill with single gang controllers. A real uh-oh moment. So, what did Niles do? They took ALL the single gang controllers back (MSRP $299) and upgraded me – for FREE – to touchscreen controllers (MSRP $799). I look like a champ to my customer, my double gangs are filled and I gets paid. A Hat Trick of win all around.


So, Niles had some issue with the ZR-6 where it *might* catch on fire or something. I don’t know. Really though, under the right circumstances WHAT wouldn’t catch on fire? Sometimes in August when I walk out of my store I feel like I might catch on fire. And I bet if you chucked a ZR-6 in a Blendtec it would blend up into you-shouldn’t-drink-that black powder, but that doesn’t make it a bad product. (Seriously, has anyone actually used a Blendtec for non-electronics destruction? Does it make the most kick-ass daiquiri ever or what?)  But, instead of just making dealers suck-it for a truck roll service call, shrugging their shoulders and saying, “Oh, well! Stuff breaks!” Niles gave the dealer a FREE touchscreen for every system they updated. Pow! An $800 incentive to go and make a customer’s system better.


See the pattern here? Problem which could create fear which leads to anger which leads to hate which leads to suffering. And then, pow! You’re a Dark Jedi killing younglings. But, Niles heads off the fear with an over-the-top solution that leads to a land that rains Skittles and sprouts iPads and where you’re in a state of consciousness one step nearer to Tecca.


OK, so the recent thing. We have this one ZR-6 user that is a FA-REEEK for the Grateful Dead. He has gone all hog wild after finding some Website that allows him to download like every Dead show in FLAC. Apparently these are like one-step removed from board feeds so the calls of “Hey! Who’s got drugs!” and “Tie dye shirts for sale!” are pretty much eliminated. Frankly, the music still sounds like one step above Cletus playing a jug and the Country Bear Jamboree to me, but, hey, he likes what he likes. So, this guy has spent HOURS downloading all this stuff, then turning it into WAV files then painfully track marking it and loading it onto his iPod so that he can THEN enjoy it on his ZR-6 system. Except the ZR-6 has some kind of bug when connecting to his iPod Classic where it won’t play tracks in track order, but only alphabetically. Now, for the majority of the population that just shuffles all their music anyhow and doesn’t care if track 4 comes after track 3 of track 12 or a different album entirely this is no big woop. Honestly, short of listening to a $7500 Sooloos music server (mmmmm, Sooloos music server... ) while sitting on my couch with a drink *actively* listening to music, I can’t tell you the last time I’ve played an album from track 1 thru the end in order. But...the customer is always right, and for him and his live shows this was a major dilemma of crisis proportions. Pretty much akin to saying, “Jerry Garcia has personally spoken to me from beyond the grave and he says that if you listen to his music on your ZR-6 system he will come to your house and leave all manner of gross hairs in your shower till the end of time.” So we reached out to Niles’ engineering. Hey, this is the problem. Can you fix it? Turns out they CAN fix it – and will – but that resources are busy with other things right now. So, how about we GIVE your client an iPod Touch that we know doesn’t have this problem?


Wow! Really? You’re going to just GIVE my client an iPod Touch to solve his problem? I mean, just like that? Yeah, just like that. Cause that’s how good companies roll. They don't deny, they don't off-load, they don't deflect. They fix. Whatever it takes.


PS: Niles—my iPod Classic is having a problem too? Any more Touches available? Just kidding...

Categories: August 2010, CTA

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Reply Scott Moody - the "Scoot" mentioned here
1:30 PM on August 26, 2010 
This is a great example of why it is critically important for businesses to take action when it comes to customer service. Far too often, we see businesses "listen", and while hearing what your customers have to say is necessary, it all goes for nothing if the proper actions are taken to address those issues. The most successful businesses are the ones that know how to take that a step further and convert potential brand naysayers back into fans. (Full disclosure here, we work with Niles Audio as well).
Reply John Sciacca
1:42 PM on August 26, 2010 
Yikes! Can't believe I misspelled your name! Damn you, spell check! Sorry, Scoot!