As many of you already know, I will be conducting a webinar this Monday on Mobile Business Intelligence. The content is derived from my latest Mobile BI Market Study Report, which was released just last month.
In support of this event, I decided (after much deliberation) to purchase a new mobile device - specifically a mobile tablet. And, no, it's not an iPad.
But, this posting is not about the device. Instead, it's a story about the disastrous customer service associated with acquiring this device.
On Wednesday, I called the device manufacturer's sales line to order my new mobile tablet. The sales person was personable, knowledgeable and professional. I was quite impressed. Of course, I needed to receive the device ASAP, in support of Monday's event and impending road-tour next week. So, I requested (and paid for) overnight shipping. Since I was ordering after 1PM, I was told that the device would be delivered on Friday. I soon received email confirmation and an order number. I thought I was all set!
But, wait! While still on the phone with the sales person, I logged onto to their system and noticed that it indicated shipping via "ground" and delivery in 3-5 business days, not Next Day. My sales person assured me that the system was incorrect and that it would indeed be delivered on Friday.
The following morning (Thursday), I checked their system again. It still indicated 3-5 business days. I called and spoke to another sales person, who once again assured me that the package would ship Next Day Air and I would receive the unit on Friday, as promised. When asked about the online status of 3-5 business days, I was told that their internal system was accurate and the customer (my) view was out of date.
Later that day, I received shipping notice from the vendor's automated system, indicating that the unit had, in fact, shipped via ground and would be delivered in 3-5 business days - not next day. As you can imagine, I was rather upset. I immediately contacted my sales person, who still insisted that the package might still arrive on Friday and that the system must be in error.
With tracking number in hand, I verified this information the shipper's system and confirmed that the package would indeed be delivered via ground - and would not arrive until the following Monday (or Tuesday), NOT FRIDAY.
The last email that I received from my sales person (although apologetic) focused on the point that this error wasn't his fault. He put it into the system correctly and had never seen this happen before. To quote him: "it is simply not possible for me to charge for shipping without selecting it in our system. The only explanation I have is the same as before---a system error somehow failed to register the Next Day shipping as the shipping option once the order was completed." His only solution was to refund my $16 for overnight shipping, which didn't address my issue. He made certain to copy his boss.
So, with that lengthy explanation behind us, let's examine what should have occurred:
1) When the customer (me) alerted the sales person about the shipping method discrepancy, he should have sought help from someone with more experience. Fact is: systems typically do what they're told to do and the indicated status is probably accurate.
2) When the customer calls back and still indicates a problem, don't patronize him and do nothing. On Thursday there was still time to fix the problem. At that point they still could have shipped out another unit for delivery by Friday.
3) Don't blame the system for a customer service problem. The customer doesn't care who's fault it was. Acknowledge the mistake and come up with a solution.
As a final note, when I was tweeting about this issue, the vendor's social media customer service rep reached out to me and tried hard to fix the problem. In fact he had them ship another unit to me for overnight delivery. However, they (apparently) don't have the ability or didn't select "Saturday Delivery" as an option. So, the second unit will likely arrive at the same time as the first unit.
The old axiom of "A stitch in time saves nine" comes to mind. Fix a problem right away - when it's easier and there are more options - and before it gets out of hand creating (in this case) a customer service nightmare.
I'll share more of the saga at the webinar on Monday. For more info on the event - go to www.mobile-bi-study.com