What fun to be an analyst and a consumer! I was shopping last week in a very prominent retail chain that has spent millions on customer processes and, more recently, a lot on facebook, Twitter and their own web site.
I rarely shop unless it is with one of my children. They ask me to accompany them when they expect the total bill for one of their excursions to surpass their limits of shame in charging “their” credit cards to the family account. But there I was, on a gorgeous Sunday, in a beautiful shop stretching for thousands and thousands of square meters. If only my great grandparents could have seen such abundance.
OK, I cut to the chase: I needed shoes for an upcoming event, and I was under strict orders as to what they should look like: colour, brand, style. I found them, but there was no inventory in my size at this location. The fabulous assistant arranged to have them delivered from another location within eight days. No problem. He completed the transaction, took my email, and my instructions on change of address – as I told him I’d moved and he needed to please verify the new address. Even though the family has made other purchases from other locations.
A week went by and I’d not gotten the email confirmation that the assistant told me to expect. A bit suspicious, I called his number at the store. Oooops! (Hearing Oooops makes me anxious.) They are at the package delivery company. “Ah,” he says, “I have the tracking number. ” He read me the details and I said, “But this is not my address.” He looked at the sales form and instructions and said, “You’re right. I don’t know how your old address got in our shipping system.”
Alright, this should be an easy recovery, yes? No. Not so fast. Of course this is a global package delivery company that operates 24/7. But the polite and courteous assistant tells me that they have a “special arrangement” with the company, and they, the Retailer, are only allowed to call Monday through Friday. I remind him that by Monday the package will have arrived at a place I haven’t lived at in quite a while. How do I know that this will happen? Because as the two of us are speaking on the telephone, I am simultaneously looking at the tracking status on the shipper’s website - something the assistant can’t do.
Stay with me. What happened? Well, I called the shipper, got an equally charming and courteous Customer Service Agent on the phone, and she said that only the sender can alter the address, not the customer. This last part was fun: I set up a three way conference call between myself, the shipper, and the retailer, and Presto! My shoes will arrive Tuesday morning.
Two things: I placed this ‘experience’ out on the Retailers facebook fan page, and posted to Twitter. I’ll let you know what happens. My guess? The “Retailer” will soon contact me through social media. But guess what? I happen to know that Marketing and the “Web Channel” executives “OWN” Social Media at this company – it is NOT a joint venture with the retail stores. I also know that they have a frosty, ‘hands-off’ relationship with one another – “Store” and “Web.” There are historical, political, and savvy internal reasons for this. For example, all web sales go to the “Web” sales organization, but the cost of all “Returns” from the website fall to the local store where the return is made.
Maybe, because a part of my job is to analyze customer processes for clients, I have a leg up on some other consumers – or at least I am patient and understanding. But what do you think these process disconnects do for the feeling of confidence, trust and goodwill for the relationship with the general consumer?
Onward with ‘one face to the customer.’ Tear down these walls.