This article originally appeared in the Jan./Feb. 2013 issue of CUSTOMER magazine.
The cover story of this issue’s magazine talks about online holiday shopping, how successful it was in 2012, and what can be done to make it even better in the future.
I know I personally received more e-mail appeals than ever before from a variety of retailers during the recent holiday buying seasons. And, in many cases, I took these retailers up on their offers, either via online transactions or by making in-store purchases. It’s great that companies are using online technology to offer customers like me the opportunity to benefit from various deals and special offers. But while technology is great in that allows businesses to deliver, and consumers to take advantage of, product and service offers, technology also can sometimes get in the way of what might otherwise be a great customer experience.
Case in point: My recent experience with a women’s clothing retailer.
About an hour ago I emailed the retailer’s CEO and head of corporate communications, so I’ll just share what I wrote to explain the situation. This e-mail went out about an hour ago, and no reply yet (which to me is too long), but I’m going to assume this company is going to do something to right the situation, so in fairness I won’t use their name here. I inserted xx where the company’s name (or, in the first and second cases, where the CEO and pr person’s name) was/were in the original.
Here’s the email:
Hello xx & xx,
I'm a loyal xx customer, and the editor of a magazine about customer service, so I thought you'd like to know that your company has a policy that may cause you to lose my business.
Here's the situation. I recently received an e-mail from xx reminding me of my dividend points balance and suggesting that I need to use or lose those points by the end of 2012. I was just $5 away from getting a $25 dividend, so I went in last night and brought four items to the register.
I told the store rep that I was $5 away from my dividend, and that I wanted to apply that dividend to my purchase. She and another store rep, both of whom were extremely helpful and nice, said she wasn't sure if the purchase/dividend would appear in the system right away, so we decided she should ring up just one of the items – to get me to my dividend reward – and then ring up the other three items as a separate transaction. After completing the single-item transaction, the dividend still didn't appear on her computer, so the reps suggested I come in tomorrow to purchase the other three items.
Today I called the xx at Kierland Commons in Scottsdale to see if the $5+ purchase from last night had posted so I could come in and make the other purchase and get the dividend. The rep working (not one of the two from last night) told me it would take six weeks to get my dividend. That didn't make sense, given what I was told last night and given xx just sent me an email suggesting I use my dividend points by the end of 2012. I told her this, and she suggested I call customer service.
So, I just got off the phone with xx customer service. After talking to three people, and asking that they post the purchase immediately so I could come in and spend more money with xx today, I was turned away. I told them this would cause xx to lose my business, but they said it was a computer records-related issue and there was nothing they could do. I told them that when a valued customer is involved, there's always something that can be done, but they didn't deliver on my request. That said, I can only conclude that xx, which I thought was finally turning around with better product and customer service, no longer wants my business.
If you do want to keep my business, please let me know by posting my dividend today so I can go in and complete the purchase of the other three desired items today.
Sincerely,Paula Bernier (News - Alert)
I’ll let you know next issue how it all panned out.
Happy New Year!
Edited by Brooke Neuman