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Customer Service Gone Wrong

As if it isn’t already hard enough to generate sales and gain customers in this economic age, here’s a recent experience you must hear to believe.

I recently spoke with a woman who described an experience she had while attempting to shop at an online store. This is the brief account of that day.

She was looking for a particular tropical fish cake pan to use for her son’s upcoming birthday. After searching high and low for the exact one she saw in a picture, she found it at an online store of who’s name I’ll withhold out of respect for them — they’ve got enough bad reviews and terrible internet exposure that adding one more to their mountain of “bad PR” is just a waste of time.

The site did not indicate whether the item was in stock (“no no #1”), and to be certain, she called them to inquire about its availability.

I’ll sum up the shocking conversation that following in a several bullet points rather than going into great detail.

The Conversation

  1. She picks up the phone and calls the store using the phone number provided on the site. You would think this is a good thing — giving customers a way to reach you. After all, answering a question can help close a sale. Think again. A store rep answers the phone and the lady proceeds to ask if they have the fish cake pan in stock that was seen on the website.
  2. The rep replied telling the lady she could drive out to the store and search through the 2 isles of cake pans to see if they had the pan she needed, but was not willing to go look for her.
  3. The store happen to be about 1 hour from where the lady lived, and she told the rep on the phone this.
  4. She asked again (several times) if the rep had a method to search for the pan to see if it was in stock so she could purchase it. The rep began to get agitated.
  5. The rep told the lady that she was not willing to go look through the items in stock and that if the lady wanted the item she should come search for it herself. (Yes, this is what was actually said if you can believe it.)
  6. After back and forth conversation on why she could not look for the item, the rep on the phone said “let me put you on hold”. The potential customer, happen to have a timer on the phone she was using, and after waiting for about 14 minutes on hold finally hung up.
  7. She called the store back 30 minutes later and the same rep answered. The lady asked about the pan again, and said she was waiting on hold for close to 14 minutes so she hung up to which the once again “gruf rep” replied “Oh, I must have forgot about you.”
  8. The lady asked if the rep had found whether the pan was in stock or not. The rep answered “I don’t know, you’ll have to drive out and look for yourself. I fill 200 orders a day from the Internet, and I don’t have time to look for the pan.” (Shocking eh? I thought so.)
  9. She told the rep that if she was not willing to check if the item was in stock or not then she would “take her business elsewhere” to which the now very agitated rep replied “I think that is a good idea. You should take your business elsewhere.” The conversation ended there.

Closing Thoughts

What this store obviously forgot is that there is no substitute for good customer service and satisfying customer needs is what grows a business.

The store’s lack of customer service did not cause them to lose just one customer and one sale — the lack of customer service caused the them to lose any other customers that would have been referred to them if the lady had a better experience when trying to purchase the pan.

Likewise, their actions will have a lasting ripple effect which will prohibit the company from growing, obtaining new customers, and of which will eventually be the downfall of it.

Apparently the store rep thought 200 sales a day was a lot and was not willing to get an extra one (which could lead to many more via word of mouth). Growing a business is not important to them and eventually they will fail.

If that store rep worked for me, I’d fire her. Turns out that “rep” was actually the owner of the store. How’s that for customer service?

Lesson learned.

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