Miruna Codeanu

Customer care is essential

In espresso on December 13, 2013 at 8:21 am

I see customer care as an essential part of marketing. The way your call center treats customers is a vital part of your image. I’ll tell you the almost science fiction tale of my interaction with an online store in Romania. Let’s learn something, again.

As seen before Christmas time, people seem to shopping a lot, or my appliances seem to make a habit of failing me, or I just decide I need new ones. Basically I decided I needed a washing machine and a stove. Time is not even by far my friend so online seemed the most reasonable option. Secondly, when I want something I usually want it now, so I looked for one online store that currently had the product in stock. It was the Romanian retailer emag. So I happily order my products. Later on I am notified they will be delivered on the next day. Yay, nice. So, the next day I get my products. All nicely wrapped, with no sign of being “bruised” during transportation in any way. However, when I open the stove, I notice it was massively “hurt”. It looks like this:

livrare emag

The wrapping and package was intact, being probably delivered like this by eMag. So I call their call center. I’m told to send a complaint with attached photos of the object. Nobody apologizes. I ask the phone operator to register my complaint, I’ll send the complaint later. Later on I sent the complaint with attached photos. eMAG promises they will solve these situations in 48 hours. Having passed 48 hours I phone them on Tuesday to get an answer. What I was asking eMag was that the old stove is replaced with a news stove at the same time. Their procedures requires the courier to take your old product and later on replace it with another one. I explained eMag in all my letters and phone calls that I do not own the time for their procedure, that my lack of time was why I chose them in the first place. Reaching a phone operator at eMag takes at least half an hour. I’m told there’s an online form that I should fill in for pick up and return. Ok, why wasn’t I contacted to be told to fill in that form? Still, eMag claims to solve complains in less than 48 hours, unmet promise. I am told I will be contacted after I fill the form by the person dealing my complaints. Nobody apologized by now for having sent me a faulty product. Ok, I fill in the form, and I’m contacted by an operator to be told they will replace my product in the same day. I schedule the delivery for Thursday.

Thursday (yesterday) morning I got an SMS from eMAG telling me my order (the replacement) will be delivered today between 09:00 and 17:00 by a courier. No phone call from the courier by 16:00. I call the courier. The courier tells me there’s no package on my name and I should contact eMag. I contact eMag, and they reassure me the courier will pick up my old product and replace it with a new one at the same time. I call the courier again, the courier tells me it will be delivered at about 20:00. In the next half an hour I am contacted by the courier who tells me he arrives in 10 minutes to pick up the old product. I also ask him about the delivery of the new product. He confirms it. He arrives to pick up my faulty stove. No replacement. He didn’t have any package for me. I contact eMag, and it takes me 45 minutes to reach an operator. I am told my package was sent that it will probably arrive later or Friday. I tell the operator that my message said I will get my package today, and I already established that my product is replaced at the same time, which is again an unmet promise. Nobody apologizes, again. Of course, apologizing means admitting to bad services. I tell the operator there are two options: my package arrives that day or I cancel my order, because it is already too much time wasted waiting for faulty products, dealing with extremely poor services. We finally reach the agreement that he will cancel my order, as the faulty product had been taken by the courier and was on its way to eMag. I also email to cancel my order. Aroudn 20:30 I am contacted by eMag again, telling me they could be delivering my product that evening, but unfortunately I cannot wait for it for more than 1h. eMag tells me it will take more than that, as it has to leave their warehouse. Revelation: my product, which I have numerously times confirmed it was sent, hadn’t actually left the warehouse.The story ends here, although the product was already paid for, I do not have the nerves to deal with these guys. I ask them to cancel my order.

Later edit: today, Friday, after previously asking eMag to cancel my order, I am contacted by the courier to deliver my stove.

Morals for this story:

Apologize

It may seem that asking your team to apologize to your clients for trouble causing situations it admitting to the problem, however, the client is buying something from you. Your client doesn’t care about your deal with your suppliers.  Do teach your team to apologize. It’s basic and mandatory. The least your client service can so. Say “I’m sorry for the trouble”, it matters. Taking advantage of your human workforce, not robots. The least they can do is empathize. I’ve dealt with extremely angry customers, however saying: “we’re sorry for the inconvenience, we’ll look into your problem(…) ” helps. Teaching your team to express empathy and communicate accordingly works.

Offer them proper access to information

When you have a call center which is supposed to be offering information, provide your team with access to that information. They don’t have to have “admin” roles, they just need to see that information somewhere. They are supposed to be capable to tell me whether my order was sent or not, whether it will be delivered today or not. It is annoying, frustrated and time consuming to be told “wait, I’ll ask my colleagues” with every question you make. The more time you consume waiting to reach them in the first place, the more annoying it gets.

Promises you can’t keep

I for one prefer online because, technically, it would spare me some time. This is the major promise and differential argument for online vs offline commerce. This is a promise: efficient and time saving. Don’t make it if you can’t keep it. Promise you can solve complaints in 48 hrs but actually don’t? Don’t promise. The reason which I didn’t immediately get back to eMag was their promise. I’ve said it before, it is frustrating and time consuming to deal with bad services, not only you lose clients, but they also spread the news.

Social media

Again, as Orange Romania, eMag uses social media marketing. They have a Facebook fanpage and a Twitter account. I’ve said if before: social media is about conversation. Their Twitter account is on “automated post from Facebook”. However, eMag, you wasted enough of my time, I’m not offering you free advice. I should probably charge you anyway for my wasted hours, but free advice is off the menu for eMag. Just take the “customer care is essential advice” and it will be a little bit better.

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  1. every business owner should read this, great post!

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