Monday, October 3, 2011

Business Rule 101-Thou shalt not piss off a Social Media Savvy Writer

This post is inspired (or maybe provoked is a better word) by an experience I had with Staples Canada customer service earlier today.

I have been in the market for a new computer desk. The desk I have is a lovely hardwood desk, but it's the wrong height to be a computer desk and it's not wide enough. I've had it since I was in high school, but I don't think I ever used it as a desk.

There are space limitations in the room it's destined for, and I finally found the perfect desk at Staples and ordered it online. It stated next day delivery, so I've been sitting twiddling my thumbs all morning. Staples will only tell you that the item will be delivered "sometime between 9am and 5pm". Okay, that's not helpful in today's day and age but anyway...

I finally pulled up the confirmation email and  I called the customer service number to see approximately when in the 9-5 window I could expect to see my new computer desk, which I would still have to assemble.

That's when the problems began. Now let me preface this by saying that I have been both a customer service representative, and a manager of a customer call centre. I know from customer service call centres and shoddy customer service is not acceptable to me. I won't accept crappy customer service.

I got the customer service person on the line,  gave my order number and asked for a status update.

I was mistaken on the delivery date-mainly because I never know what the date is unless it's a date I have to remember-like deadlines and birthdays. The shipment was due to be delivered tomorrow, not today. Okay, my bad. I can own that. However, I won't be around tomorrow and there isn't anyone I can ask to be here-especially all day. I asked the customer service rep if we could reschedule.

I was told in no uncertain terms that it was not possible to reschedule. It would be delivered tomorrow, and if I wasn't there, too bad. They would try again another day. I asked if the shipment had left the warehouse yet. Nope, still in the warehouse. Well then why can't it be rescheduled to Wednesday? Nope, can't do that. Why not? Not our policy...Why not? We just can't reschedule...The CSR couldn't explain WHY it couldn't be rescheduled, only that they would make 3 delivery attempts and send it back to the warehouse. If I didn't like it, I could cancel the order. Take it or leave it.

I went around the mulberry bush for a few minutes, and then told the customer service rep that the policy was not acceptable, it made no sense, and I wanted to talk to her manager. She put me on hold for a minute, and then came back on the line with the same old lines. I interrupted her, because to be honest I was pretty annoyed at this point, and told her that I wanted to talk to her manager. She told me the manager didn't want to escalate the call, I could take the delivery schedule or cancel the order. I cancelled the order.

I then took to Twitter to tweet about the poor experience, AND I called Staples Head Office for good measure and complained to someone there. Hell hath no fury like a writer with a sense of efficacy, CSR experience and a social media presence.

The person on the end of the Staples twitter account reacted immediately and asked for details. The person at head office was not pleased with how things had been handled and was going to advise someone somewhere about it. I'm still not happy, so here I am in the blogsphere as well.

So here's what I do know. Having a delivery window of "sometime between 9am and 5pm" is ludicrous in today's day and age of text and electronic communications. People are busy, and the days of the housewife being home all day to wait for a delivery are long gone. If you tell me that it will delivered between 9-11am, I can plan accordingly. 9-5pm is a bit ridiculous...

In today's day and age of email communications and computer d-bases, it should be a simple matter to change the delivery date, especially since the boxes are still sitting in the warehouse. One keystroke could have saved a great deal of grief, aggravation and ill-will.

Social media means that good and bad experiences are instantly communicated. The first thing I did when I got off the phone was find out if Staples had a Twitter account, and tweeted my bad experience. I had a response in minutes.  I then googled their head office and spoke to someone there. I'd always had good dealings with Staples, and our local store staff are great. However, this experience has tainted my impression of the store, although the quick response to the tweet was impressive.

It's common lore that people tell 5 people about a positive experience, and 10 people about a negative one. The advent of social media can multiply that reach 10 fold. Companies need to be aware of that.

In the mean time, I'm out one computer desk and the room upstairs is a mess. Guess I'll be staying at the kitchen table a bit longer than I planned.

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