Crutchfield’s online catalog has its origins in the company’s first year of business, when sales were poor in 1974. During the first year, the company didn’t sell very many items. Bill Crutchfield, the owner, mailed out a questionnaire to find out why customers weren’t buying products, asking customers what the company needed to do better. Customers replied that they didn’t know much about car audio, and were scared by the thought of putting one in their vehicle. The questionnaire prompted Bill Crutchfield to start filling the catalog with useful information about car audio. The company built this experience into their corporate DNA, offering superior customer service to its clients. Since 1974, the company has put car audio components into over 12,500 cars.
- Great customer service
- Lifetime support
- Extensive audio selection
We seriously felt that Crutchfield has one of the best customer service setups in the industry of online electronics stores. Here are some of the features of Crutchfield's superior customer service:
- Free lifetime tech support for your audio products ($99 if your products were purchased somewhere else).
- Free audio installation kits with most car audio products.
- A generous 60-day return policy, however, the items must be returned completely packaged and undamaged.
- An extensive knowledge base that includes installation guides and how to purchase product guides.
We liked that the lifetime support for products was also available if you purchased your product from another company. In our opinion, this is an indication of Crutchfield's dedication to customer service.
We liked finding an online electronics retailer that specialized in one market, specifically audio products. The online product catalog also has a very unique search feature, something that we didn't see in the industry. To search for the car audio that is appropriate for your vehicle, the website catalog prompts the customer to enter their vehicle manufacture year, the car brand, and the car make. The catalog will then present the customer with a complete listing of audio products that is appropriate for their vehicle.
We also liked the array of televisions and other products available through Crutchfield. Crutchfield has three different models of OLED TVs. The prices range from $3,499 to $9,999. We found it difficult to find a wide range of prices for OLEDs from other providers in the industry.
The customer experience with Crutchfield is also reflected by a positive reviews. The customer mistakenly selected the wrong type of wire harness. Crutchfield sent the client a free wire harness, the correct one, and did not ask the customer to return the faulty wire harness.
We also liked the extensive professional audio selection category. Here are some of the item categories that we found with Crutchfield's professional audio product selection:
- PA Speakers
- Audio recording equipment
- A wide array of microphones
- Monitors for recording and public performance
- Computer recording
- Pro Audio Headphones
- Home recording solutions
- Cables and Snakes
- Stands, cases, racks and bags.
The website also included extensive articles and guides for each product category. One article described the benefits of having touchscreen displays as part of a car audio system. One audio talked about car audio factory sound processors and how a new stereo could be easily integrated with a factory sound processor. The article also gave customers options on how to decide whether or not they should keep their factory sound processor or purchase a new one.
- More information
- More products for devices
We couldn't really identify any "negative" aspects of Crutchfield's website, but we did have a few suggestions to improve the site's overall functionality and appearance, as well as increase the overall customer experience:
- For classic cars and motorcycles, we would like to see more "vintage" products available. Some of the electronics for classic cars had a digital display, limiting the "vintage" look of the radio display.
- Increase the number of GPS units and resources available for motorcycles, as there are only two GPS types for motorcycles.
- Better define how to package a product if it is going to be returned. The website doesn't give very good information for how to repackage a product and the amount of a restocking fee.
We wish that the catalog contained a bit more information on each individual product and how it might be integrated into an existing audio system. We were somewhat concerned by the factory sound processor article, as it read somewhat like a blurb trying to get the customer to purchase more Crutchfield equipment.
Even though Crutchfield is an audio component provider for cars, we would like to see more products such as smartphones, MP3s, and maybe even tablets that customers could hook up to their new stereo system, whether or not the item is for a home.
The Bottom Line
We appreciated our service experience with Crutchfield immensely. Here are the things that we liked about Crutchfield:
- The great customer service, an idea that is built into the very core of their business operations.
- The free lifetime support for products purchased directly from Crutchfield
- The free installation gear that comes with most car stereo purchases.
We also liked the extensive knowledge base online. While the live chat is not a 24-hour feature, there are a ton of articles that are available to customers 24 hours a day. Also, the knowledge base is free. Some companies, such as Best Buy, require the customer to purchase Geek Support or a service plan to repair or install an item. Also, the free installation gear from Crutchfield is hard to beat.