What Ever Happened to Customer Service?

In my humble opinion, the number one issue a company should be paying attention to is customer service. But it seems more and more that getting the sale is taking priority over making the customer happy. Below are several examples of poor service – how would your company handled each of these circumstances?

I ordered file cabinets from Staples through their on-line store and was given a specific delivery date that their trucking company would deliver. The promised day came and went with no phone call to me to let me know there was a delay. The trucking company had very specific directions to my place of business, they had my phone number and I was sitting here all day waiting for them to show up. Even though Staples was using a local delivery service that was located less than 50 miles from my place of business and had in their possession not only the correct address but also detailed directions and I am located on the corner of a main highway the driver could not locate the delivery address (have they ever heard of Map Quest???). And they didn’t bother to call for further clarification. At about 6:00pm I called Staples and was told they would deliver the next day. Now wouldn’t you think that after all this, I would be at the top of the list the next day? Not so – at 7:00pm, after waiting another whole day, the delivery was finally made. They did offer and sent a $50.00 gift certificate for my troubles but I lost two days of work (as an consultant my work rarely consists of sitting in my office) and never again will I order from Staples.

My husband ordered a specialized type of ink from Digital Art Supplies also through their on-line store. This is a company he has had dealing with before and he expected no issues. The ink arrived in a timely matter, however when he opened up one of the cartridges a few days later, what he had was a plastic bag full of ink – the cartridge had leaked out its entire contents. He called Digital Art Supplies and the first person he spoke to said no problem, they would replace it immediately and have the damaged cartridge picked up. A few hours later, a second person called back (Dave) and informed us that the only way the exchange could be handled would be to either wait until they received the damaged cartridge before sending out a new one or charging him for the new cartridge and he could wait for the credit to be issued when they received the damaged one. And unless he wanted to pay extra the cartridge would be send ground service from California (from our experience expected delivery would be 10 to 14 days from the date of shipment). This order was a sale of over $600.00, they sent out what was clearly from the look of the box, a product that had been returned by a prior customer, and in their own words they have had this type of problem with this type of cartridge before. Of course they put the blame on Epson stating it was a drop shipment, however in the package was their invoice and their business cards. I guess Epson keeps a supply of each dealer’s stationery at their manufacturing plants. I think not – so why are you lying Dave? After explaining that he had an order to fill and not being able to use the ink was delaying the order and agreeing to pay for the extra shipping charges it was still going to be either wait until the damaged cartridge was in their hands or pay up front for a new cartridge and wait for the credit to be issued – neither solution was an example of good customer service. So I asked to speak to the manager and after waiting several hours she returned my phone call with the same lame solution. My husband ended sending back the cartridge (at his expense) and ordering a new one from another dealer (B&H Photo in New York) which was shipped the day he ordered it and will be here the day after it shipped. And so we will wait for the credit to be issued. Never again will he deal with Digital Art Supplies.

And what is up with UPS? This is a question for the people who set policy at this company. Each day I watch their brown trucks go up and down my street multiple times and yet if they have a package on their truck that is meant for us, they just will not take the few minutes to stop and make the delivery. They would rather run around like rats in a cage going right by several times and finally delivering our package sometime between 5:00 pm and 7:00 and sometimes at late as 9:00pm. Now I know they have delivery priorities depending on the level of service chosen however it seems that with the cost of gas nowadays, they are not saving any money by handling their deliveries in this manner. Does this make sense to anyone?

And speaking of deliveries – for all of you who provide delivery service or are in the business of providing a service where you arrive a person’s place of business or home, do you think you are endearing your customers by making them sit around an entire day waiting for you to show up? Here’s a unique idea – give your customer a specific time or a range within two or three hours when you will be there and be there on time. They will appreciate it and you will have happy customers, not angry ones.

We all have busy lives, and there is nothing more infuriating then to waste time trying to resolve an issue. Mistakes sometimes happen – when your company has a less than fully satisfied customer the best way to keep that customer is to find the best solution for them even if it’s cost you some money. The largest advertising budget cannot make up for just one dissatisfied customer. And a pleased customer is worth gold.

And for you customers, who feel you have been treated badly or unfairly, speak up with both your words and your pocketbooks. Report your non-performing online businesses to the many organizations that track these stores – Yahoo, Amazon, EBay, Alexa and Pay Pal are just a few. Start a blog writing about your experiences. Tell your friends and business associates. No matter if it is only a few cents or many dollars, customer service will only improve if you take the bull by the horns. One of two things will happen – either your vendor will respond to bad press or word of mouth and the resulting loss of sales or they will go out of business. Keep quiet and they will continue their “standard operating procedures”. And refuse to deal with businesses that don’t stand behind their products and services and do not respect your valuable time.