Thursday, May 18, 2017

A Disconnect Between Customer Service and Customer Experience Marketing

Many marketers and other social influencers understand that the way to stand out in today’s competitive social economy is to provide an outstanding customer experience. This can be interpreted or played out in many ways. Some businesses offer loyalty programs to repeat customers. Other businesses offer discounts. And others personalize all forms of communication. But what happens when a business doesn’t understand that the other side of service is a positive customer experience?

Recently, I made an online purchase from a small online retailer, which had previously been a catalog-only business since the 1970’s (according to its website). I chose two products, added my credit card, added my mailing address – and this is where it gets silly. I added my email address and telephone number. Remember this as the story goes on.

At the two-week mark, I wondered where the items were. I called the toll-free number and spoke with a customer service representative. After much discussion, we learned that my package had an incorrect digit in the street address and was en route back to the retailer. The shipping process began with FedEx, who then transferred the package to the US Post Office. At no time in the package’s journey, neither FedEx nor the Post Office thought about using my email address or telephone number, which were on the shipping label, to reach out to me to ask for my correct street address.

Instead, the package was simply MIA. The customer service rep had no idea when the post office would return it, so she could not issue a refund. She did, however, offer to take my credit card number over the phone to place a new order, and she even offered to pay for the shipping cost. Wow, a big gift of eight dollars!

I wondered, did the representative have any authority to make sure I had a positive customer experience? Could she have offered to send me one of the two items that I had initially ordered at half price or even free – as a token of understanding my frustration and disappointment? Or was it more important that the online retailer balance its books and ignore the entire concept of customer experience marketing altogether?

Before I ended the call, I told the rep that I understood customer experience marketing and that, if I had been in her shoes, I would have done something to make sure that I did not lose a customer. The Potpourri rep replied, “Sorry,” and hung up. I wonder how long until I notice the refund on my credit card statement. With service like I experienced, I wonder how long this retailer will remain in business.

Have you ever experienced a disappointing customer experience that turned around at the end? Please chime in and share.