Thursday, July 31, 2008

In defense of Dynon

I got a nice note from Ian Jordan, who is at Oshkosh with the Dynon folks, today, reacting to the piece I wrote about my experience shopping for an EFIS the other day. Let me reiterate that I've heard nothing over the years that should dissuade you from buying a Dynon product; quite the opposite, actually. One of the unanswered questions -- because I didn't ask it but intended to -- I had as I shopped was, "how is it Dynon is so consistently able to deliver such a great product at such a comparatively low price.

My experience at Oshkosh is just that -- my experience, which I chalk up to the difficulties of running a booth at a place where 800,000 people are going to walk by in a given week.

But, as I said, I'm absolutely fanatical about customer service and even more so about basic manners. When the kid at McDonald's says "yep," when I say thank you after giving him my money, I'm that guy, the guy who corrects the kid. When I called to cancel my Home Depot credit card because their "no interest on purchases over $200" promotion turned out to mean "one purchase=one item" (We bought an $1,100 washer and a $150 pedestal and they considered that two purchases and charged finance charges on the $199), I'm the guy who responded to the customer service lady's offer to erase the charges with, "the time to treat me like a respected customer was when I was dropping $1,250 in your store and that's money that's going to Lowe's next time."

That's just me. That doesn't mean I'm saying it has to be -- or should be -- you. I don't know how Dynon -- or any other exhibitor -- does it. For all I know, the guy the sales rep went to while blowing me off could've been fuming that he wasn't getting the service he demanded (although I doubt it since he was actually standing well into the aisle and hadn't actually come into the Dynon booth area). The only thing I can say about that is: I don't care about the other customer and I sympathize with the exhibitors but that's the way it is.

That said, here's Ian's very much appreciated note:


I work for Dynon Avionics, and I am one of the employees here at Oshkosh.

I was sorry to read about your experience with us in the booth today.
It's a chaotic place, with literally thousands of customers and prospective customers a day. As you probably saw, the booth is always packed, and this means that while we wish we could give each customer an hour of our undivided time, many times we are dealing with questions from many customers all at the same time. We always try to treat every person that walks into the booth as if they were the next LSA manufacturer that will buy 1,000 units from us, but inevitably, in a situation like the OSH booth, humans sometimes fail. It never has anything to do with us making a judgment about if you are really going to be a customer. Every single person that has taken the time to go to OSH is one of our customers. We're all passionate about aviation here. I personally spent 15 minutes talking to a customer today who flew a certified aircraft (clearly not a direct customer) while someone I know well but haven't seen for over a year waited and eventually left since it was clear we were so busy.

There's no excuse if someone really did leave you in the middle of a conversation. We all actively try and communicate with the customer we are with until they are done and then move on to the next one. It sounds like we didn't do that today, and I understand how that could leave you with a very bad taste. All of us at Dynon apologize for your experience. We hope that someday you will swing by again and give us the chance to show you that your experience was very atypical.

Have a great time at the rest of OSH '08.

--Ian Jordan

Well, first of all, yes, someone really did leave me in the middle of a conversation and when that conversation started, there wasn't anyone else vying for his attention. Had their been, I'd have been more understanding.

Of course, I wasn't asking for an hour of time; I'd taken up no more than 5 minutes, the length of time it took to ask "tell me about your product" and a couple of follow-up questions about price and the amount of real estate it takes up in an RV. And I'll say it again: After that 5 minutes, I was within about 8 seconds of writing a check and I'm willing to bet that the guy I got blown off for, didn't buy.

Bob Hoover has a wise piece of advice that would serve American business well, "fly the plane as far into the crash as possible." It improves your odds of surviving. The same is true in today's economy: work with the potential customer all the way to the point where you're sure he's not buying.

But more than that, here are the words that can protect a business from the problem of losing customers in the way Dynon lost me and ameliorate the challenges of doing business at Oshkosh: "Excuse me for just one second."

Second, I believe my experience really is atypical of Dynon. As I said, I've never heard or seen any reason not to plunk down my hard-earned cash with the company.

My decision not to purchase the Dynon unit isn't soley made up by this atypical failure however. Grand Rapids Technologies is the beneficiary of that decision for the same reason I tipped Ed & Ardy's $2 on a $2.60 root beer float. They earned it.

Most assuredly, your mileage may vary and I presume it will.

Again, please understand there's nothing personal involved here. It's just business.

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