Turning Archive 2004
>I have been using the Woodcut Proforme hollowing tools since early 2001, and, given that I do mainly hollow forms, they get as much use as my Ellsworth gouges. In fact, even when I do the inside of bowls, particularly if they are natural-edge bowls that are unbalanced, I often will use the Proformes because I can use a tailstock more easily with them than with a bowl gouge.
I have both the straight and the swan-neck tool, and the other day, the cutting blade on the swan-neck broke near the tip of the cutting head. Because I had bought these directly from Woodcut and had dealt with Ken Port (the sales manager) in the past, I e-mailed him to find out the least expensive way of replacing it. He responded within an hour to let me know that they had replaced the model that I had with a newer one, and gave me particulars of the new model. I wrote back asking him whether he would recommend that I order 2 of them, because if the other one was also likely to break, I wanted to save on the shipping costs, but that if it was a fluke that it broke, I'd just order one (the 2nd seemed to me to be in good shape). His response was (and I quote) "I suggest that an extra spare may be good. I will send new gauges. Free of charge for you".
Now, Ken and I have never met, and the only things that I have bought from him are the Proforme set and some accessories for it. We have occasionally "talked" on the bulletin boards, but that is the extent of our contact. I had no expectation of getting a free replacement--in fact, in my last e-mail where I asked for his advice re the number of cutting heads to get, I enquired whether I could just order them through the e-mails we were exchanging, or if I needed to fill in the order-form at his site. To say that I was amazed at the service I received would be an understatement. I have worked with a lot of clients in the area of customer service and customer satisfaction, and there has been a lot of literature on the subject of "delighting the customer" ( I hate that phrase--sounds so Polyannaish), but it is extremely rare that one actually encounters it, particularly in today's economic climate of cost-cutting. I mean, to not only replace the broken piece, but to also provide me with a spare, goes beyond what anyone might expect. When I thanked Ken, his one-line response was "Thanks. We believe that customer support is essential". Well, not only do they believe in it, they sure deliver it.