A Defining Customer Service Experience


Shipping is a total pain in the ass.  If you require your customers sign for their packages, they complain because they aren’t home to sign.  If you don’t make them sign, they claim packages were never delivered and you have no recourse.  If you let them choose (which is what we plan on doing with our new cart), you’ll still have complaints.  Whether it’s FedEx or UPS or (especially) USPS, the problems are all the same for anyone who ships goods to consumers.

One of the most troubling things for both the consumer and the retailer is when the shipping company says a product is delivered, but the customer claims they never got it.  There are a few ways a retailer can handle it:  they can call the customer a liar and say tough shit, they can tell the customer to contact the shipping company and work it out with them, or they can take control of the situation and handle it themselves.  That last option is what we do.  We apologize for the situation, we re-ship the item the next business day, and then we file a claim with FedEx.  We give everyone the benefit of the doubt at least once.  The customer gets their product fast and without the hassle of trying to work with FedEx to figure out where the package went.  We win a good amount of our claims, and we’re increasingly winning more because our FedEx rep re-opens claims and works in our behalf if we badger him about them.

In our future site, we’ll likely make anyone who chooses to have delivery without a signature agree (several times) to waiving their right to complain if FedEx says the item has been delivered.  Hopefully this will decrease our complaints, but I’m sure there will still be situations where we’ll be compelled to re-ship.

Anyway,  I experienced this for the first time from the side of a customer about a month back.  I bought a 2-pack of filters for my humidifier from a company called Kaz.  A few weeks after ordering, I went online to check my tracking from UPS and it just said “A DELIVERY CHANGE REQUEST FOR THIS PACKAGE WILL BE PROCESSED / RETURN TO SENDER PENDING”.  Ooof.  So I sent their customer service an email, hoping they’d handle it like we would, but not really expecting any help at all.  Like everyone else, I’ve come to expect poor customer service as the norm.

Instead, I got an email later in the day apologizing for the situation and saying that they had already re-shipped my order.  They also said that they would work with UPS to have the original package shipped back to them.  Wow.  It feels so damn good to know that a company cares enough to respond and to do something about it.

Last week I had one of these situations with a Tastefully Driven customer, and he thanked me profusely for the customer service.  I know Greg and George get those emails all of the time too.  For the first time though, I really understood how awesome it feels, and how much more likely that makes you want to buy from a company again and tell all your friends about your positive experience.  Especially because a positive experience is so rare these days.  I realized that a lot of our success can be attributed to positive customer service experiences, especially when we turn what could be a negative shopping experience into a positive one.

Amazingly, big corporations still suck at customer service many times.  Their millions of dollars can’t buy them people who truly care about their customers.  It’s one of the huge advantages that every single small business has over their competition, and it costs next to nothing.