I saw Curt Barry’s post in MultiChannel Merchant’s Operations and Fulfillment newsletter the other day and I thought it perfectly captured the importance of great customer service. If you haven’t read it you should, because it provides great insights into the consumer experience and the perils of under-serving your customers.
Cut to the Chase…
Because we all have too many competing priorities and time is scarce, I’ll paraphrase for everyone’s benefit.
Mr. Barry made a purchase from a well-known brand for a consumer item costing more than a few hundred dollars. Before his purchase he completed the requisite due-diligence and made an informed buying decision.
Then things went sideways.
Delivery delays, contradictory product information, unsatisfactory product performance, and unfulfilled needs combined over a period of a few weeks to create the perfect storm of customer frustration. The net result of this frustration is nearly all participants in the transaction came up losers. The obvious and most important casualty is of course the customer, but ultimately I trust (or at least I hope) Mr. Barry will find resolution to this issue and be made whole.
Who else is getting hurt, though?
If you gussed the retailer, you’re right. The retailer has also been compromised in this transaction.
- The retailer has lost a customer for life.
- They’ve lost money by needing to expend extraordinary resources to try to resolve the issue on a high-value, low-margin product. Further, because the item purchased was returned – TWICE – the eroded margin isn’t limited to this transaction. Now, they’ve got two scratch-and-dent units to unload as collateral damage accumulated while they were trying to resolve the original issuse.
- They’ve introduced the risk of social backlash and unfavorable reviews, and may need to expend further resources to mitigate that risk.
The moral of the story
The teachable moments here abound, as the original article cites. If there was a call recording or monitoring process in place perhaps there’s a glimmer of hope for future process improvement. I sincerely hope this retailer can use this experience to optimize their contact center training to make certain their reps are able to handle customer service calls effectively, provide first contact resolution, and close knowledge gaps.
In a recent blog post we discussed the importance of providing great customer service and the positive effect it has on customer loyalty. The results speak for themselves – win the customer service battle and you’ll win the retail war.