Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Reminder for All E-Commerce Sites During the Holiday Shopping Season

With the online holiday shopping season upon us, here's an important reminder for all E-Commerce sites.

While online surfing recently, I wanted to make a purchase for a family member and was using a site I had not previously used. I entered the product details and conducted a search, found the desired item, and then continued to maneuver around the site to enter my name, address, and credit card details.

As I was just about to click “place order,” something surprising happened. The entire site went down and a message popped up on my screen, “This site has gone down for maintenance. Try again later.”

I understand that unexpected situations happen, so I was happy (truth be told, happy is not the correct description) to give the benefit of the doubt to this site’s company. But if regularly-scheduled maintenance had been planned, don’t you think there should have been a message on the homepage indicating the times that the site would be down and inoperable? If such a message had been visible on the homepage or, even better, along the top of all pages, I would have been in a position to either chose to enter my data with lightning speed or chose to return the next day.

I shook my head once the site went down, because I wasn’t sure if my data had, in fact, been entered and the order had been processed. So, the next morning, I called the company – and after going through a series of numerous prompts, I spoke with a live person and provided the order number on my print out (I had printed out the web page where I was when the site went down the previous evening).

The lady could not locate the order number, and she went on to explain that due to the fact that the site had gone down the previous evening, my order had not been completed. I asked her if the site was back up, and she said yes. I waited a few seconds before saying anything, because I was curious what she might do to leave me with a positive impression of her company. When it was obvious that she was ready to end the call, I told her that I would visit the site to complete my transaction.

What do you think she said in response? I expected her to say something along the lines of “We’re sorry that the site went down during your transaction. This happens rarely, but we appreciate you business and if there’s anything I can do to facilitate your transaction, please let me know.” Or what about this, “Can I take your order over the phone to make your day go smoother?” But she said NOTHING. In fact, she disconnected the call.

It’s a shame that the customer service rep I spoke with had never been trained by Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, whose classic advice can lead to memorable, positive, and repeat customer experiences: “We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every aspect of the customer experience better.”

If your business depends on successful online transactions this holiday season, don't ever lose sight of the importance of creating positive customer experiences.

Image Credit: Renjith Krishnan via FreeDigitalPhotos.net.