Sep 022013
 

In a brilliant example of how not to win friends and influence people, Australia Post have lost a package being shipped to me. Amazingly, their tracking advice states that it was delivered within a couple of days of being shipped.

The initial problem is that nobody knows where, or to whom, the package was delivered.

But that is not the subject of this post: shit happens, and I can accept that.

The real issue – the customer service aspect – comes into play when Australia Post are told of the problem, and how they react to their error. And that, my friends, is the makings of a customer service horror story.

Let’s go back a step, so that you appreciate the full ugliness of how badly fucked up Australia Post’s attitude towards customer service – and their customers – really is.

About two weeks ago I ordered some fridge magnets from Vistaprint. The price was right, the product offering seemed good, I’ve used them in the past and their service seemed to be fine. I uploaded some artwork, selected the level of postal delivery – which I was paying for – and nominated the delivery address.

Please understand that everything related to the shipping and delivery, except for the actual placement of the product into the shipping package and that package’s delivery to Australia Post, was at my direction.  I selected the delivery service level. I nominated the delivery address. I nominated exactly what was to go inside the package.

And I paid for the shipping.

Vistaprint were, for all intents and purposes, merely acting as my agent in this part of the transaction. They were acting entirely under my direction.

So, when Australia Post then told me that the product had been delivered, but they couldn’t (or wouldn’t – I still don’t know which is is) tell me to whom, or to where, I naturally gave them a call.

But imagine my response, imagine my horror, when they told me that I was not their customer!

Excuse me guys, but please take a look at the facts: I was in charge of just about every aspect of this delivery, and most importantly, I was bloody well paying you for your lack of service! At which point does this even remotely suggest to you that I am not your customer?

Get your head out of your arse, you idiots! I am exactly your customer. Nothing more, and most certainly, nothing less.

Fuckwits!

Halfwits!

This is, and continues to be, a massive condom on your penis of customer service. Whilstever you pretend that those people who pay you for your failures to deliver are not your customers, you are doomed to continued reductions in your customer base, and suffer the reductions in income, and eventual extinction that you so richly deserve.

First of all, and as I said above, don’t dismiss people as not being your customer. It’s very simple: you are wrong.

Second, stop trying to hide behind non-excuses, and passing the buck to others in your feeble attempts to not do your jobs: be open, be transparent, and admit that you’ve fucked up. Call back people when you’ve promised to do so. I’m still waiting for a call scheduled for Thursday last: clearly, you really don’t give a fuck, do you?

There are much better ways to handle this sort of thing: it’s way better to be open, and address the problems, rather than engage your customers in a buckpassing shitfight.

Let’s consider for a moment the other side of the coin: when I realised just what a bunch of dickheads I was trying to deal with when dealing with Australia Post, I then referred the matter back to Vista Print. Within a few hours of my email, they had apologised (for YOUR error, Australia Post) and engaged with me openly, asking me if I wanted them to reprocess the order (at no further cost to me) and also offerring to refund to me the cost of the postage that had been paid.

Oh yes, when I emailed Australia Post the problem, it took you a full TWO FUCKING DAYS to issue a response; a response that again merely passed the buck, and within which you had totally failed to take the customer service challenge seriously.

The lesson here folks is that unless and until Australia Post take their head out of their arse, whenever you have a delivery choice between Australia Post and … anyone else …. take anyone else.

May 232013
 

For pretty much any organisation, the concept of customer service – and what comprises good customer service – is not an option; it’s compulsory.

A few days ago I wandered into a store in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, with the specific goal of wanting to buy one product. On past visits to the store I’d experienced difficulties in obtaining this product because they’d run out of stock.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – the product I was wanting was a perishable product, produced fresh on a daily basis. As I was calling in to the store in the late afternoon, and the product was being freshly made every morning, it stands to reason that on some days I might call into the store late in the afternoon and they would have sold out.

So, on this particular day, I called in to the store in the morning. 8am.

My logic was that surely there would not be any stock issues at that time of day.

Wrong!

The product was being made in a central, corporate facility, and not due to be delivered until around 10am.

Here’s the delimna: I’ve contacted the organisation in question and spoken with their management. The reasons why the product is centrally made, and not delivered to the store are honorable and reasonable. As a result, the 10am delivery timeframe is somewhat unavoidable, even though it’s really not acceptable.

Not from my point of view. And from our discussions, also not from theirs.

As a general rule, I take the viewpoint that I am in the store when I am in the store, and as I am there to buy products, those products should be available at the time that I’m there. With that point of view in mind, it then follows (to me, at least) that when the store staff are telling me that I should come back later, they are, effectively, being quite disrespectful to me.

Why should I come back? I takes me time. It takes quite some effort: the store is located in an area that is a real beast to get to. I don’t like going there at the best of times, and being asked to return is really quite unacceptable. It also presumes that I have the time to come back (I might not) and that it will be easy for me to accomplish.

Those presumptions are wrong, and by expressing themselves to me in this manner, those employees are being somewhat disrespectful towards me. Probably that’s not deliberate, but that doesn’t change the eventual outcome.

Now, here’s the problem: how does the business address this very real problem? They acknowledge that there’s a distribution issue, but as noted above, this is caused by a couple of very real underlying production issues that they correctly prioritise as being more significant than just selling product. I respect and accept that without reservation.

But it leaves them with the problem: they don’t have the product available in the stores at the time customers wish to purchase, and from a business management perspective, that represents a serious customer service issue.

What to do?

I really don’t pretend to have any answers here.