A close friend of mine recently shared a horrific experience she had with a major retailer that manufacturers their own product brand Her experience should serve as a wake-up call to EVERY company that thinks that customer service, repair, technical support, or other “after the sale” functions are less important than sales and marketing
She wrote a letter to the CEO of the company, which I will only excerpt here to make the salient points needed to communicate the importance of the function and customer care
Loyalty must be Earned Constantly
“I am – or more accurately was- a long time loyal (name of company) customer. My first credit card was a (name of retailer) card. I have owned (store brand) products for over 20 years. I have bought (another store brand products the retailer is known for) for my home. Over many years I have shopped at my local (name of retailer) store as well as on line for everything from clothes to lawn tractor parts. All of that ended today. “
The shopper had a long history with this retailer and was pleased to be among the customers for this particular retail outlet. However, as a result of a poor interaction, that is now called into question. The interaction is detailed below:
“Four years ago I purchased a (store brand “big ticket item”). This past week it stopped working. Clearly this was unexpected as my previous “big ticket item” lasted 15 years with the same type of use. I went on line on (date) to schedule a repair appointment. My appointment was to occur Saturday (specific date) from 8:00 am – 12:00 noon. This is how my day progressed.
• When no technician was present by 11:30 am, I called your 800 number
• I was told I was on the schedule for repair service and a technician would be calling me to inform me of his or her arrival time
• At 12:30 pm I still had not heard from the technician nor had a technician come to my home
• At 12:30 pm I again called your 800 number. I WAS ON HOLD AWAITING A CUSTOMER SERVICE REPRESENTATIVE FOR 49 MINUTES.
• A representative named Justin took my call. After listening to my information he put me on hold to call the department that schedules technician services.
• After being on hold he returned to tell me no technician was in my area today and I would need to reschedule. No attempt was made to reschedule for later on the day of my appointment. I informed him that was unacceptable and asked to speak with a supervisor. Justin put me on hold again and then explained that all he could do was transfer me to the escalated unit because “that’s all my supervisor could do”.
• I was ON HOLD FROM 1:05 PM TO 1:30 PM awaiting a representative from the Customer solutions / escalated unit
• I spoke with a representative named Nancy who put me on hold to check with the department that schedules the technicians. She informed me that no technician was available to come out to my home today because someone was a “no show” for work.
• I was furious. I had called at 11:30 am and was told I would receive service and a call from a technician. At 1:30pm that day I was told someone did not show up for work and so I was not going to receive a service call. I had not received a call that morning informing me that no technician was available in my area and requesting I reschedule for another day.
• Nancy put me on hold again to try and reschedule for later today. Our call was disconnected.
• I called your 800 number again and explained I needed to speak with the Customer Solutions unit. I was transferred.
• At 1:45 pm I was speaking to Kristin in the Customer Solutions Unit. Our call was disconnected.
• I called your 800 number again. I spoke with a well- meaning representative named Danni who tried to get a hold of Nancy in the Customer solutions unit for me. She was unsuccessful.
• Danni put me on hold from 2:05 pm to 2:15 pm as she tried to get in touch with the Customer Solutions unit herself. She indicated she could not locate Nancy. She also informed me that unit was experiencing difficulty with their systems today. She transferred me to her supervisor
• I spoke with her supervisor whose name is Arthur. He could not get a hold of the Customer solutions Unit. He could not arrange for a technician to come out today nor could he cancel my service agreement. He did let me know that the system had automatically rescheduled my appointment for (future date); a date I did not request, was not consulted about nor could I accept. I indicated that I wanted to cancel any further appointment as well as cancel my service agreement.
• Arthur transferred me to Cynthia at (another 800 number). She indicated that she could cancel contracts but not service agreements. Arthur had transferred me to the wrong department. Cynthia put me on hold to reach whatever department actually can cancel service agreements. She also canceled the appointment scheduled for (date previously established) that I did not accept but was scheduled anyway. She stayed on the line and warm- transferred me to Louis at (still another 800 number).
• Lewis canceled my service agreement and let me know that it would take at least 72 hours for the money to be credited back to me. He offered me a $50.00 gift card as I had been so inconvenienced today.
• This call ended at approximately 2:45 pm. I had been on the phone for 2 hours and 15 minutes. The only resolution was to cancel my service agreement, cancel my appointment and share my story as to how I became someone who will not shop at (name of retailer) again.”
The retailer has yet to respond, has not taken steps to make amends beyond the token offer of a gift certificate, and this longtime customer has taken to the internet, networks, social media, and every other way she can think of to get the word out about her dissatisfaction. Any company that refuses to see how responding to their existing customer base is critical deserves the same fate as this retailer.
Burying the carcass will be rather simple – all that will be left is the shriveled up remains of a once proud retailer that has lost the way that it once so clearly had mastered