By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
I like to order online. Unfortunately, several of my recent e-purchase experiences have fallen short of expectations—providing valuable lessons in the process.
The first occurred when ordering a box of books. Upon receiving the email confirmation, I noticed that I had inadvertently ordered forty copies of a different book with an almost identical title. With no option to cancel online, I called their customer service number. The recording said they were closed for the weekend. I called at 9:10 AM Monday morning only to find that the books had been “shipped” earlier that day. The rep instructed me on how to return them. When I received the order, there was a second error — one of the three boxes contained unrelated DVDs, but with no packing list and no paperwork for return. I called again. The rep determined what had happened and how to resolve it. Had their call center been operating 24×7, the errant order could have been cancelled, saving a wrong shipment, a second phone call, a return shipment, a credit card refund, and a month to resolve.
Another time I placed an order, received the confirmation, my card was charged, and the product was shipped—but I received the wrong book. The only customer service option was email. I concisely explained the situation, receiving an automated reply that they would respond within 24 hours. They did, but with a canned message telling me how long shipping might take. I sent a second message; expect for their automated response, there was no reply. Two days later, I sent a third message, and the next week, a fourth. My fourth plea was responded to—three days after it was sent. They told me the book I ordered was no longer available, they would refund my money, and to donate the errant shipment to charity. This incident took three weeks to resolve, required four contacts, resulted in lost merchandise for them, and did not produce the book I ordered. With an available call center, this could have been resolved with one call.
For the third incident, I received an error message during checkout, which I couldn’t resolve. I called customer service; they were so familiar with the error that they knew what I had ordered and told me how to correct it. However, I had more gifts to order, each going to a different address, thereby requiring separate orders. My second order defaulted to the first shipping address. A second call to customer service was needed to cancel the errant order and receive instructions on how to bypass the default shipping address. Two needless calls had to be made because their Website was confusing and poorly designed.
So there it is; three e-commerce lessons for call centers.