What if no matter what you did to better serve your customer, it didn’t matter at all?
Stay tuned for a story of mixed signals, valiant efforts and broken promises.
This is the Customer Experience Storytime tale of… A Delivery Most Foul
And so it begins…
David and Anna had just moved in together. It was a big milestone in their relationship as they had been dating 2 and a half years and this felt like the next logical step.
To really solidify their common-law coupling, the decisions now needed to be about what to fill their joint apartment with. They soon decided, as a couple mind you, to buy a new mattress and a washer and dryer set. Both of which, conveniently, were available at one of their local department stores.
It wasn’t a place either had been to before. Previously, with their tight budgets, stores named in Swedish were their default. However, this was a place that had been recommended by friends and family so it was soon the top choice.
On a warm, Saturday afternoon, they made their way there, optimistic that they could get everything they needed in one relatively short visit.
From the moment they walked in, from the mattress section to the appliances area, it was a warm and welcoming experience.
While browsing the mattresses, a sales person would pop in and out of discussions David and Anna were having. Just available enough to answer questions and offer advice without feeling like he was hovering, eaves dropping or pushy.
Looking through the appliances aisles, one staff member engaged with them on a more personal level, asking if it was their first washer/dryer, what the occasion was, what they liked about their new condo, excetera, excetera.
It actually felt genuine and not salesy.
The experience was a good one. They left having happily bought everything on their list.
- Queen size mattress? Check
- Washer? Check
- Dryer? Check
And while David and Anna were having their enjoyable exchange at the department store, a bout of bonus good news: the washer and dryer would be delivered with the mattress. This couldn’t get any better.
The experience was so good, David and Anna even talked about the next time they could come back.
This was the last good news they received for a while.
The very next day, a phone message from company responsible for deliveries for the department store.
From this message, David and Anna learn two things.
- Unfortunately, they wouldn’t be delivering the mattress on that particular day, with the washer and dryer.
2. There was no information on when the mattress would actually be coming.
This puzzled the couple. A slew of questions run threw their heads.
“How is that even possible?”
“Is no one accountable for anything?”
“How do you run a delivery business without knowing when your product is sent to and from places?
At this moment, they not only have no idea when the mattress was coming but also no idea when they were going to follow up with them.
David is very comfortable on social media so he tries another approach to voice his concerns. Twitter.
He directly messaged the store’s account. After all, it was through them that he had purchased his mattress.
The store did indeed see his remark, apologized and asked to privately get David’s email so they could get back to him. He shared his contact information and waited. This sounded like progress…
…But ended in silence. David waited three days and received no response.
During that time, the washer and dryer were set to arrive. This had to end in success, didn’t it?
Scheduled to arrive between 5 and 9 pm, Anna missed the notification phone call at 5:55pm by 10minutes. They had been and gone. When she asked if the delivery later in the evening as they were still working for the next 3 hours, the customer service agent simply replied.
“We don’t do that”
No apologies. No “sorry we can’t fit it into our packed schedule tonight”. No “we’ll be delivering to far away to make it back in time.”
Just a blunt, “we don’t do that.”
Though the washer and dryer did arrive the next day, the mattress was still M.I.A.
So David wrote a blog about his experience.
The dept store did indeed read the blog and took action.
Tweeting to David, they said, “How can we help you be more satisfied with your experience?”
David’s response, “If you’ve read my blog, “satisfied” might be hard to come by. We’ll see. At least it could be another blog post.”
To their credit, the store persisted, “Well, I can promise you that we will resolve this, David. Please look out for an email from Nancy who will be handling this.”
A day or so later, Nancy from their executive office contacted David, asking if she could help resolve the issues. Further requesting David’s phone number. He felt an odd sense of déjà vu.
David responds, “I’d like to see what you can do to help” and included the number.
Nancy never wrote back.
However, Margaret was now making herself available. She is the store manager of the very local store that David and Anna had frequented. Margaret called twice and sent an email, all unfortunately timed for the couple to respond right away.
When they were finally able to connect with the store, it was the weekend so Margaret wasn’t available. Rather they were directed to the (mattress) department manager Hector, who invited them to the store to remedy the mattress problem.
Please Note: the last the couple had heard, the mattress he’d purchased wasn’t coming and they didn’t know when it might show up.
The couple made it to the store
It was there they met Hector.
He apologized for the delivery issues, explained that the mattress had been “lost” (in air quotes) and then offered an option of two other mattresses, that were similar or better than the one they had purchased.
Also, without prompting, Hector reassured them that these mattresses were IN the local warehouse, and not back east.
This was an interesting point to make as this was the first they’d been given any type of explanation about the failed delivery service. They had had no idea where the issue was before and still weren’t sure why this was a valid explanation.
After rolling around the two options, they make their choice, which included honouring a “free gift” they had been exclusively offered with their original mattress.
After a bit of in-store waiting, and some paperwork for the exchanged product, a new time/day for delivery was made.
A week later, the mattress arrived as agreed upon. Of course, the experience was to be expected from this delivery company: they barely acknowledge Anna’s existence for their last exchange.
As David and Anna finally lay on their new mattress, listening to the whirr of an in-use washing machine, all they could remember was the fight they had endured just to get what they paid for.
And that ends the tale of…. A Delivery Most Foul
Friend Filter aka How is this Perceived by the Customer?
Remember, the customer experience is an emotional one. Good or bad, your customers feel something.
In this case, there were a lot of feels. The highs of an amazing experience in-store and the lows of actually dealing with the delivery provider and store’s communications.
And these feelings should really be split up.
While in the department store, the first time and with Hector, the couple felt like they were in the spotlight. Every question was answered. Every comment listened to. They felt like the staff genuinely cared about them as people, engaging with them on a human level with interest.
Though “not in the store” time was completely the opposite. The delivery company was almost adversarial in their approach. Short answers, no explanation, zero apologies. It was about them, not about David and Anna.
The store’s communications through email and social media took the indifferent approach. They showed initial interest but made David and Anna to feel marginalized repeatedly after repeatedly not following up or responding and then continually passing them around from one authority to the next. Nancy and Margaret who? It felt like a checked box, not a relationship building experience.
What worked or Could Have Been Done Better
From this tale, what’s the one thing your business can take away to better serve your customers.
- Brand Consistency — Every point at which customer engages with your business, should all share the same brand voice. if you outsource parts of your business, if they engage with your customers, they represent your company and your brand. Make sure that if your brand is helpful and service-focused, that all parts of your business is properly representing you.
- Service Consistency — make sure all aspects of your business provide the same level of service. Social media, email, in-person, on the phone, email. All of it. If you provide amazing service in one area, but fail in others, it’s the failures that your customer will most remember. Establish expectations for all platforms and stick to them.
- Employees Value Consistency — your employees need to feel and know that their service efforts matter, and aren’t being undone by someone else. In this story, after David returned to the store once his blog got some attention, one of the sales reps pulled him aside and thanked him for writing the blog. The rep was frustrated that no matter how great of a job he did serving his customers, it was a gamble if they ever returned based on the delivery service. Consistency can help your employees feel they are part of a larger team all working towards the same goal, regardless of the number of moving parts.
Morale of the Story
Steady wins the race. Focusing on a consistent level of service will build trust in your customers. They’ll know what they’ll be getting and they’ll depend on it.