A Broken Bike Light Reflection

Last April, I bought a really nice bike (and somewhat expensive). It has taken me quite a long time to choose it. I was looking for something I can ride fast to work and use it for recreation on gravel, and long asphalt runs.

Everything was going fine, but not long after the purchase, the light stopped functioning. This was not a problem at the time. The day was growing longer and anyway I was not biking late at night, especially after dusk. Besides, I was working 12 hours a day, and the only time I could go to get it fixed, would be on Saturdays.

Naturally, I was procrastinating and pushing my visit to the shop, I purchased my bike until the summer was almost over. I thought I would just go in, tell them what the problem is and leave the bike there to be fixed. To my surprise, at the end of August, the shop was under renovation. The note said, “We’ll be back for you on November 1, 2018.”

Today, when I dressed up, put my helmet and rode to the shop. This time, the note was saying “We’ll be back for you on December 1, 2018.” Delays happen all the time, a former citizen of the communist world would say. But I couldn’t wait anymore. See, I ride to the gym very early every morning.

I circled back and went to a small repair shop I pass by every morning. Luckily, there were no other customers, and the man behind the counter started working immediately on my bike light.

Here I should probably say that I am completely ignorant in the ways of handymen and engineers. Yes, I can dismantle a computer or a DVD player and put it back together, and they will work, but fixing a bike light is definitely not in my cards.

I was watching the man trying to record in my mind every single step he is taking in the fixing process – what steps he took to identify the problem, what he did trying to fix it and how he made sure that he, in fact, has repaired the light. All in all, it took him 5 mins and me – 5 Euro.

Had the shop I bought my bike been working, I wouldn’t have paid anything (because of the warranty), but I would have been without a bike for at least 24 hours (depending on technician’s availability). And this was definitely something I was not looking for.

Happy that my bike light is fixed, I was reflecting on my user experience and that of other people encountering a similar problem on the way back home. Nowadays, we do expect problems to be fixed by vendors pretty much immediately. No matter what the issue is nonetheless.

The Internet, social media and information, service and product being just a few clicks away, we tend to be impatient before even putting thought into it. If something is not available immediately, a clearly communicated timeline and reasoning can soften the user’s distress, but not every vendor practices it.

The digital economy has shortened the fuse for many, among other changes of consumer behaviour. It has changed every stakeholder in the process, but many businesses don’t pay attention to the post-purchase customer touchpoints. And this what impacts return the business to a greater extent.

In the case of my bike shop, a note with a date (which is changing) and a few referenced addresses of other shops, which are many kilometres away from my home, was not cutting it. On the other hand, the small business owner was there and did a perfect job—a gain for him and a bigger business.

Photo Credit: Pablo by Buffer

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