Underpromise. Overdeliver.

Always Provide Fanatical Customer Service

Faber-Castell has blown my mind with fanatical customer service that embodies the principle, “underpromise and overdeliver”.

I’ve had fountain pens off and on since high school. Mostly disposable pens that didn’t write particularly well. My first real pen was a Pelikan classic. I don’t exactly remember the model. That was the pen with which I really learned to use and care for a fountain pen. Unfortunately, as learning goes, I wasn’t really ready for that pen. I cracked the lid through some carelessness and from that point on the ink would dry out too quickly to be useful anymore. I held on to it as a souvenir, but it got lost in a move at some point.

My wife gave me a Faber-Castell Ambition fountain pen in pearwood for my birthday 8 years ago. It’s a beautiful pen. I had been admiring it at Paper Ya on Granville Island in Vancouver for months. It was sleek and architectural. Modern. I loved the straight lines. The narrowness of the barrel. The color of the wood. The weight. That pen immediately became my daily carry pen.

What we didn’t realize at the time was that it would be our last year in Vancouver. We came home to Texas the following summer to be closer to our aging parents. That pen became a token of our time there. It took on the added weight of tying me to a city that I loved and missed.

In the last three or so years, the cap became loose. Eventually it would fall off under its own weight. At the same time, the inner core of the pen became detached from the barrel and would slide back and forth. For fear of losing the cap, I stopped carrying it.

Finally, after googling around for options to fix the cap, I decided to email Faber-Castell customer support. I asked them about repairs or parts. I received the following email in reply:

Dear Mr. Aument: Thank you for your interest in Faber-Castell and the Design Brand. Thank you for your interest in Faber-Castell. I am sorry to hear that you are experiencing a problem with your instrument. If you are located in the U.S. (only), and to ensure proper fit and function, please send the entire instrument along to the address listed below for assessment/repairs. Address: Faber-Castell USA Attn: Repairs 9450 Allen Drive, Ste. B Cleveland, OH 44125 Repairs should be sent in a protected, traceable fashion as Faber-Castell is not responsible for items lost or damaged prior to receipt. - Please include a note indicating what the problem is exactly and, within the note, include your return shipping address and daytime phone number/email address. - Empty all fountain pens of ink. - Do not send original gift packaging. - Do not tape or glue parts together. Once your instrument has been received and assessed we will contact you with the charges will apply, prior to the start of the actual repair work. All estimates are provided by phone, but I can tell you that it would be no more than $30. Please let me know if I can assist any further as I will surely do my best to help. Sincerely, Michelle ****** Consumer Relations Specialist

That seemed fair to me! I shipped off the pen and awaited my estimate.

After a couple of weeks, I received a shipping notification(!) and the following voicemail.

Hi Mr. Aument, this is Michelle with Faber-Castell. Just calling to let you know we received your Ambition Pearwood. I wanted to let you know that actually the nib is the issue. Obviously your barrel, there's bonding on the barrel and we are going to be replacing the barrel. The issue with the cap, the cap is actually fine. It's the nib that is not seated properly. Given that we're already going to be replacing the barrel, I'm just going to go ahead and replace the pen since there's also issues with the nib. That's going to be shipping out to you most likely on Monday to your PO Box XXX. So it'll just be an entirely new pen. I did want to let you know that in general the warranty for the design brand is two years for manufacturer's defect. I know you had said this was eight years. So just keep that in mind for the replacement. And then like I said, if you ever have any follow-up questions, feel free to give us a call 1-800-311-8064. Thank you.

Wow! Now that’s customer service! I had zero expectation of this. I was perfectly willing to pay something to have my beloved pen back in working order, but this was above and beyond.

Anyway, I went to the post office to pick up the pen today and and when I opened the package - double wow!


Look at that!

Nice handwritten postcard. Bonus pencil.

“But,” you say, “this wasn’t altruistic. They do this for everybody. It’s marketing. Plus they sent you a sample pencil so you’ll want to buy those.”

Well, duh. Of course. But they also didn’t have to do this. I know there’s self interest in this, but do you know how it made me feel? It made me feel important. It made me feel lavishly taken care of.

"There is a spiritual aspect to our lives — when we give, we receive — when a business does something good for somebody, that somebody feels good about them!" - Ben Cohen, Co-Founder Ben & Jerry's

This fanatical customer service was a case of “underpromise and overdeliver.” They promised me a repair estimate that would likely be under $30. They delivered a brand new replacement pen at their cost, a hand-written note, and a free bonus gift.

Faber-Castell has been in business since 1761. 1761! That’s 257 years! I would have to assume that they have learned some things during that time about staying in business.

Often in business it’s not the hard things that make the most difference. It’s the little things that show our customers that we care about them and that we are here to serve them. When we lead with service and make it our intent to only make money by having served others first we earn loyal customers. Even if they might not make better pens than every competitor (which they might, I’m just saying), they can strive to provide better customer service than anyone else.

And so can you. Can you out serve your competitors in this way? Even if you’re just getting your startup off the ground? Can you provide fanatical service to your customers, whether your customers be outside or internal to your organization?

Thank you, Michelle at Faber-Castell Consumer Relations!

I already loved this Faber-Castell pen. After today, I love Faber-Castell, the company too. And I haven’t stopped telling people about their fanatical customer support.

I feel like we provide fanatical customer support at ReadyRosie (hi Hilari!), but what a stunning reminder.

So, I’m sad that this isn’t that pen. It’s a replacement. But it’s lovely and new and it can stand in for that pen. But now, not only does it serve to remind me of my wife, a special gift, and a city I miss, it also reminds me to always underpromise and overdeliver and to always provide fanatical customer service.