Customer experience IT is booming on the vendor side, as their clients faces harder competition and would like to build stronger customer loyalty. It’s just not enough with loyalty cards anymore. The customer experience has to be consistent through the different channels and make use of all available data that has about that customer. But it quite often fail. I have two quite bad examples of customer experiences that I myself have recently experienced. I do have two good ones too, but let’s start with the bad ones.
Internet customer support the bad way…
Just before Christmas my spouse ordered some DVDs through an online store to give as Christmas gift to members of her family. She paid online with her credit card. When she got the order a few days later it was someone else’s order! We then though, “to bad, let’s call them as we really need this before Christmas.” But this pretty large online store (with a combined revenue of 1,5 billion SEK in the group) can’t be called! At least not for customer services… We did found out we could chat with them. Fair enough, that is not always as good but it’s ok. We did – eventually after quite some time and somewhat frustration waiting – got instructions on how to return the faulty delivery. We returned it and two days later we got the correct order. Good! At least we got it in time, right? The story has just begun.
A month later we got an invoice from a debt collection company that we haven’t paid the new bill. New bill?!? It turned out (after calling the debt collection company, they can be called!) that we will be reimbursed for the order we put and then get a new for the “new” one that we got. So the online store have at best a crappy ERP system OR most likely bad business processes for faults that they create them self. This is bad! What was even worse was that we had not been reimbursed yet. So the debt collection company said it will talk to the online store, remove all extra cost for us and make sure that we do get reimbursed so that we can pay, again! Again nothing happened and three weeks later the debt collection company email us asking if we had got the reimbursement yet? No we had not. So after calling them again we got sent a link to the online store so that we could write to then to fix the issue ourself as the debt company now said it can’t help. After several very confusing conversations online and four different persons on the other end (different person each mail/web response), they finally understood that they need to reimburse us so that we can pay, again! It also have to be said that the package that we sent back got lost on their end.
Do I have to say that I will never ever order from this store again? Or recommend anyone else doing it? No way! Ever! The frustration they have created was bad enough when they sent the wrong order, the story following it is just very sad and pointless! Makes me angry too, not a good customer experience.
Over to bad experience number two…
The bad face-to-face experience.
Yesterday evening I was a bit late to the grocery store, but not to late at about 9.30pm. I bought what I need and in the cold rain that we had here in Stockholm last night I went home. When I got home I realised that I have not bought the right stuff. It was 3-4 minutes to closing time at 10pm, but I thought if I run there I will make it! It normally takes about 5-6 minutes to walk, so it should not be a huge problem I though. I was so wrong! I did run and got there 1 minute past closing time, maybe I was little too tired to run any faster after a long week. The doors where open to get inside where the quite large supermarket store is, but the store it self had closed. But hey, not completely. There was a line of 6-7 people at the counter there. I walked over and talked to an employee of the store. She repeatedly just answered me “it’s past 10pm”, even as I begged nicely and tried to explain. She didn’t let me in even if I just needed one item 10 meters into the store and could pay thru the fast lane using my credit card and would have been out of the store much faster then customer at end of the line at the counter would. I also got a big security guard behind me who started to make a noise just as I begged to enter and buy that single item. I did not wanted to get out as a package so I stormed out, furious of course.
Swedish hospitality and customer service? Or bad luck with an employee that wanted to go home as early as possible and did not want anyone that could have taken a long time in the store, buying and making it possible for her manager to get a better bonus? I would have been very quick as I was tired and just wanted home. God forbid, she might even get a happy customer! Instead she has a very unhappy stressed customer that will not recommend nor go back there anytime soon.
It’s time for some good stories.
Customer service the right way
We have been planing to travel abroad for a vacation and needed to speak to the hotel where we are staying. It’s a very small hotel, or even just a number of villas. We emailed them a bunch of questions regarding them helping us with some tickets, diving courses, dining, massages and more. We got great information straight away, they booked things for us, they even went to diving shops to check things out for us and even sent us some pictures so that we can choose what is best for us. And recommended us on how we can make sure that my spouse – who is very allergic to Peanuts – will survive and get good food on various restaurants while being there on this smaller island. They have been over the top! Always very fast in the communication, super nice and extremely helpful. Needless to say we are thrilled about the vacation and will most likely recommend anyone going there. The experience so far has been great!
Christmas lights got sent wrong twice, but I’m (still) a happy customer
Last Christmas we ordered online from a smallish Swedish store some Christmas lights to put in the windows. We loves them. A bit expensive, but really nice ones. Right after this Christmas we saw them again, now with a huge discount. We ordered some more, as we really liked them. The first delivery we got the wrong model. Very similar but wrong. We called them when we found out the issue and they sent us new ones the very same day along with a tag so we could send the faulty delivery back with no cost for us. The next delivery was the same! Still the ones that we didn’t wanted. We called them and explained the problem, again. We also said that my farther in law liked the faulty delivery and wanted them. The customer support guy was very helpful, nice and we will now get half price on both deliveries and we did got the right delivery this time. Very nice treatment and fast support all the time.
Will I order from them despite the faulty delivery twice? Yes, with that treatment and quick easy support I will!
Is this a Swedish culture thing with bad customer service? Have I just got unlucky? I don’t think so, it’s a pattern I can see. Larger companies in Sweden (the DVD online store and the supermarket are in Sweden large companies and well known brands) are too often poor in their customer service maybe due to the competition is not always so hard seen from each employee or sometimes even for the company itself. Another reason is poor training of customer service personnel. Is smaller business more adaptive towards the customers needs? Yes, but that doesn’t mean that you should always buy from the smaller businesses. Large ones can be good at customer support too, given the right training and customer focus of the personnel.
Any shopping is about customer experience if you like to build a relation and loyalty with the customer, but also the communication with everything from government to your bank or even child care or at the hospital. The strong focus on customer experience that we see on the market is really natural and something what has always been there. The new kind of IT solutions around with big data analysis, social connectivity from where the customers are using their mobiles and delivered thru the cloud from providers that can lower the prices for the solutions with quite a deal. And the speed implementing it can be cut dramatically done right. But without knowing the customer and its behaviour it’s pointless.
The challenge is huge, but the reward for the organisation might be even greater if done right. In the end it’s all about the customer who will get an experience that it will share and of course get back again! Who said building brand and loyalty is easy?