Ordering & Customer Service Process Gone Awry
My daughter called me the other night.
She’s a 2nd year neuroscience student in Toronto and sometimes the pressure gets to her. She was in a panic because exams are coming up, she had assignments due, and her computer had died.
“I need a new one fast!” she cried.
Turns out this isn’t a great time to buy a laptop. Stocks are low, as stores haven’t yet got the new models for Christmas in and they’ve sold out of the good stuff from back to school season.
I eventually found one that was reasonably priced, light, and had a long battery life. It was at Future Shop. To my delight, the website said that orders made in Toronto and placed before 10:59 a.m. could be delivered between 5 – 9 p.m. the same day. I read all the fine print, including the asterisk.
So I ordered it late that night, paid for it via credit card, sent my daughter the confirmation number and told her it would arrive between 5 – 9 p.m. the next day.
The next day she rushed home from school and waited.
And waited some more.
At 9:30 p.m. she called to say it hadn’t arrived. I told her to call Future Shop.
They said that my credit card had been declined, so they had cancelled the order!
What’s Wrong With This Picture?
A few things seemed odd about that:
- American Express hadn’t reached out to tell me about it. Lately they have done that if there has been an online order with a problem. (Kudos to AMEX for that!)
- Future Shop hadn’t tried to contact either me or my daughter even though they had contact info for both of us. I didn’t even get an email saying the order had been cancelled.
Now you’d think that if you were about to lose an order for nearly $1,000 because of a credit card problem, you’d want to reach out to the customer, wouldn’t you?
I called AMEX, and they assured me that the order had gone through. The guy on the phone was able to tell me the exact amount. He reassured me that if I had a problem with the retailer, AMEX would refund the money. (Now this is the sort of customer service rep people want to deal with!)
So I called back to Future Shop. Nope, insisted the customer service rep. It had not gone through and so the order had been cancelled. If I didn’t believe that I’d have to take it up with AMEX. He was adamant. So I asked if I could just give him a different credit card number and have him just reinstate the order.
“No,” he said. “You have to go back online and register an account with us first.”
To be fair to the guy, I suspect the way their computer system is programmed, he could not retrieve the order details once it had been cancelled. Had he been more sympathetic and explained that, I might not have been as pissed off.
So their process failed them (and us) in two ways:
- It didn’t notify us that there was a problem with the order.
- It didn’t save the details long enough for a rep to retrieve the order and save the sale.
Does Poor Customer Experience Matter When There’s Little Competition?
I spent the next 3 hours hunting around for alternatives, but the others who claimed quick delivery didn’t have anything suitable in stock. This is where it is really frustrating to be living in Canada instead of the US or the UK! We just don’t have that many retailers to choose from.
So I held my nose and returned to the Future Shop site. On the plus side, I found something a couple of hundred dollars cheaper that would do the trick, so even though they did end up getting some of my business, it cost them a couple of hundred dollars in addition to the lost goodwill.
This time I booked with my other card, and again got a confirmation note that I sent to my daughter.
Still No Delivery!
The next night she called again. Again the computer had not been delivered.
I checked online and found it in their tracking system. It was scheduled to be delivered in yet another day. I figured there was no point arguing with them. By now it was too late for a same day delivery to happen anyway.
Ironically, when it did come the next day, the front desk in her building couldn’t sign for it on her behalf. Apparently couriers allow that, but Canada Post doesn’t. So she almost had to wait the whole weekend before getting it, but she ran to the postal outlet (after phoning to find out where it was, because apparently no-one had left that information with the front desk) and got there moments before closing.
Don’t Promise What You Can’t Deliver
If Future Shop had said in the first place that it would take two days for delivery, we would have been satisfied. (At least on the 2nd order.) Let’s face it, two days is still a lot better than most of our retailers are offering. But by promising same day delivery and then neither delivering nor apologizing, they end up with unhappy customers.
How Well Are You Delivering On Your Customer Service Processes?
Maybe it’s time for an audit? Things might not be working for your customers the way you thought they were. Don’t lose business and customer goodwill needlessly!
UPDATE: Today (November 18, 2014) Future Shop’s “Executive Resolution” person reached out to me. Apparently enough people have been discussing this post on social media that FS’s social media team got wind of it and passed it along.
2nd UPDATE: (Nov 24, 2014) Today I got a call from their Communications Manager. I was happy to hear that, according to him, my comments have had some impact: they are changing some processes so that they will communicate with a customer if there is a problem with their credit card. It’s a start!