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  • Writer's pictureSusanne Nordman

A Customer’s Journey and Five Lessons We Learned

Updated: May 7

Who does not love having repeat customers? I know that we do! After all, they are a true testament of a company’s products and services. They are the ultimate definition of customer loyalty.

Well occasionally, we are all put to the test with servicing a customer with a complex problem. Our test came several months ago when we had a customer that had an electromagnetic chuck that had been in our shop a few times over the course of the previous year for evaluation and repair if it was deemed necessary. Each time it was sent in, the customer would tell us that it was not holding their parts well.

When the chuck arrived each time, we completed incoming inspection reports, evaluated it, tested it, and completed outgoing inspection reports. Each time, it passed our inspections and worked fine. It had good electrical readings and good holding power. So, each time it would come in, we would tell the customer it did not need to be repaired. We would box it up, send it back and invoice the customer for an evaluation.

gauss meter
Proper inspection instruments is critical when inspecting an electromagnetic chuck.

The last time they sent their chuck in, it had a bad cord and terminal box connection, so we replaced it and sent it back after completing our reports, inspection, and testing. The customer told us that the cord damaged happened in shipping because when it left their facility the cord was fine. A shipping claim was filed and processed so we knew that the cord damage and the operator care were not at question for this unresolved problem.

A little over a week later the customer called us again saying it was not holding well. Again, we told them to send it all in to be evaluated. Upon arrival, we noticed that this was the first time the chuck arrived with its back stop, which had been manufactured by the customer. Throughout these many trips into our facility and inspections, the customer neglected to tell us about or provide us the backstop which was made of steel, not stainless steel.

Lessons learned that day by our customer and us:

  1. Steel can significantly reduce your magnetic field and resistance. Back stops are typically made of stainless steel.

  2. Always answer our troubleshooting questions thoroughly. We ask each one of them for a reason.

  3. We have no control over the environment in which our customers are using our products.

  4. When we ask you to send in the item for evaluation, we actually mean the entire item.

  5. We appreciate customers like this one because they believe in us and appreciate our level of knowledge.

Many of our customers do not use back stops for their workholding applications. We did question the customer if they used one and they eventually explained that would not have any bearing on this problem. Well, back stops and end stops are made from specific materials related to the workholding application and objective of the parts that are to be machined. Manufacturing a back stop out of steel and mounting it to an electromagnetic chuck can cause a lot of problems with the holding power and performance of the electromagnetic chuck because it disrupts the magnetic field.

It is unfortunate that the customer’s production was down so many times due to a miscommunication when the problem was such a quick fix. Furthermore, it is just as unfortunate that the operator of the machine did not understand the magnetic properties of steel and their influence on the holding performance of the chuck. We are pleased the customer continued to place their trust in us and our technicians and we could resolve the issue for them.

Some days, customer service can stretch your abilities and test your patience. I do not think any industry is immune from this dilemma especially with the current restrictions and extra hurdles caused by the pandemic. Clearly communicating with customers is essential to servicing them well and when I say communicating that includes listening as well as instructing. This customer’s loyalty to us never faltered with each time the chuck would not work after thorough evaluation and testing by us. We love repeat customers and we are thankful for the lessons we learn together with them on their journey.

obsidianmfg logo

Obsidian Manufacturing Industries, Inc. is a Rockford, Ill. manufacturing company and is the OEM for Magna-Lock USA workholding, MagnaLift & Power-Grip lift magnets, and Arter Precision Grinding Machines as well providing surface grinding services. They are located at 5015 28th Ave. in Rockford, Ill. with a phone number of 815-962-8700. Check out more at


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