I’m in the process of working on a presentation for Event Solutions Catersource on ‘How to turn customers into Evangelists”. I’ve been immersing myself in examples of companies who have provided exceptional customer experiences – so much so, they’ve risen from the ranks of good stories to epic tales.
But alas, I don’t have a touchy-feely story to share with you. Instead, it’s probably a scenario you’re very familiar with.
amazon.ca’s take on customer service
On Tuesday I decided to buy a few books on amazon.ca. While I was on the site I noticed that they also offer used and new books for an even further discounted price. I found one of the books I was looking for at more than half the regular price, so I bought it. I wasn’t planning on buying the 2nd book, but it was recommended by amazon and the same 3rd party retailer was offering it for a price that was too good to be true. So I added this book to my cart (along with 3 other books bought directly through amazon).
A day later I received an email (click here to view) from amazon indicating that I was receiving a reimbursement for a portion of my order. Confused as to what “Account Adjustment” meant, I went on what felt like a wild goose chase to try to find a way to contact amazon.ca so I could get some clarification.
Their email to me the next day (click here to view) was extremely disappointing…
Here’s a few things that would have made this process so much easier:
- take ownership: I found the 3rd party through amazon.ca, I made my purchase through amazon.ca, I communicated through amazon.ca…yet, when I email about an issue I’m told that “it’s important to note that my order is not being fulfilled by amazon.ca directly” and to “contact the seller for a refund”.
- make it easy to ask questions: I think that the common perception by mass retailers is that if we give our phone number or email, people will use it too much. Instead, I had to hunt for it – through 3 pages of links and information. This is a frustrating process and makes a disgruntled customer all the more disgruntled. Instead, companies need to make it easy to hear from their customers.
- make it easy to communicate: I’m not sure if you noticed, but I wasn’t able to respond to the email that was sent to me by amazon.ca. It was one of those “please note that this email was sent from an address that cannot accept emails” things. Why do companies do this? I mean, they went through the effort of including “please let us know if we answered your question” with a link to “yes” or “no”. What if they didn’t answer my question? I now have to go back to find the way to contact amazon.ca, re-explain my issue to someone new, and wait for someone I don’t know to hopefully answer my question (which, I might add, the first person did not). On the other hand, what if the original person did answer my question and did so in such a way that I was delighted with their service. Why expect the customer to click on a link that opens up a survey? Why not make it easy for them to share their delight by clicking reply?
- make communication clear: Why was the communication so convoluted? Amazon emailed me that there was an “account adjustment”. I had no idea that this actually meant that the 3rd party didn’t have the book they sold me. In this case, Amazon.ca should have clearly said just that: “We’re sorry but the 3rd party retailer does not have the book in stock…”. (see next point)
- give me the option to cancel my order: I ordered through this retailer because I could purchase more than one book. Yet, when they cancelled my one order, they didn’t give me the option of cancelling my full order. So what now? Because this retailer sold me a product that was not in stock, I have to hunt through amazon.ca’s website to try to find the information to cancel this order.
why we need to rethink customer service
- Our customers are time stressed – We’re working harder and longer than ever before. Companies need to make interactions with their brands easy and stress-free.
- Our customers are well connected – Our circle of influence used to include family, friends and workplace peers. Now, with the advent of social media, our circle can include hundreds or thousands of people with shared interests, beliefs and/or industries.
- Our customers know they have power – With highly publicized stories about average Joe’s influencing the way large corporations do business, customers now know they hold the power. Rest assured, they’ll wield it.
- Our customers can now share our experiences any time and anywhere – Cell phones + social media have changed the game forever. We now share what we love and what we hate the moment we experience it.
- Our customers have more choice and higher expectations than ever had before – Recognize that if you can’t satisfy your customer’s needs, wants and desires, there’s probably a competitor out there who’s hungry for their business.
- Our customers have great ideas – Companies loose sight of the fact that our customers should be at the heart of everything that we do. After all, if you have no customers you have no business. If it’s the needs, wants and desires of our customers that we seek to serve, why wouldn’t we be open to hearing from them about: their experiences with our brand(s), their recommendations for improvement and their issues? Recognize that your customers have great ideas, listen to them and be prepared to act.
What would you add?
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