When you’re excited to change your home, your life… for bigger and better, wouldn’t it be nice if businesses matched that excitement and their promises?
Stay tuned for a tale of confusing timeframes, new chapters life and unintended lawn furniture.
This is the Customer Experience Storytime tale of…. The Couch with Abandonment Issues
And so it begins…
Todd and his wife, Vanessa were excited. Oh so very, very excited. Sure, sometimes you couldn’t tell. Whether you worked beside them, ran into them walking the dog, or pulled up beside them at the stop light, but it was there. Almost like a subtle vibration.
It’s not every day you buy a new house.
Sure, it wasn’t the first time they had been home owners. They had just sold their previous house of five years. But, it was a bigger, better set up for their family, a step in the right direction for them personally and some welcome change.
With a new house comes the opportunity for a fresh start. The opportunity for new perspectives, new opportunities and new furniture. Out with the old, in with the new. Literally.
This was secretly one of the big reasons Todd and his wife were excited about the new big purchase. They loved improving upon their home! Something they discovered renovating and redesign their old residence.
First target: New couches!
They ordered their new couch set from one of those big box wholesale stores, and strategically doing it two weeks before their move-in date to the new house. With the shipping details being 10-15 days, not including Sundays, they thought it should be OK. They should be able to move-in before the couches arrived.
Two days after the order, Todd and Vanessa were notified by the delivery company, a service the wholesale store was using, that the couches had been shipped. Well, that was fast.
Todd was nervous. What if the couches arrived before they moved in?
He contacted the original wholesaler and notified them of the predicament.
They instructed him to watch the shipping information from the delivery company and when a tracking number is provided, to go online and track the shipment. The delivery company should contact them for the delivery so they could hold the items for a few days until they move, and then redirect the delivery to the new house.
Todd signed up for notifications so that he could get real-time details of the delivery along the way and make any changes as necessary. Two more days pass and Todd gets another notification. This one to let him know that the couches have been delivered! That 10-15 day delivery window, excluding Sundays, had arrived very quickly
This was odd. Besides the fact they weren’t given the opportunity to hold the delivery, the delivery who have had to been accepted by someone for them to drop it off. Right?
Well, Todd and Vanessa weren’t home so who accepted two couches? Todd called the delivery company’s customer service line.
The representative they spoke with confirmed that their packages were indeed delivered and left by the driver at the front door. Todd’s first thought was, “what?”
He stopped the customer service representative at that point and informed him that the packages the driver dropped off were two couches.
“Are you saying I have two couches just sitting on our front lawn?” he says, also realizing that no one would be home for another 5-6 hours.
The customer service representative responded, “the driver IS required to meet certain criteria when dropping off packages. When they did.”
Todd asked the next obvious question, “what are those criteria?”
The rep layed them out…
A driver must:
- ensure the package is secure,
- ensure the package is well hidden,
- ensure the package is protected from weather damage
- ensure the package is protected from animal damage.
Todd thought this through. Thinking about his home and imaging the couches just sitting out front of his house. This criteria description only led him to ask more questions.
“How could the driver be able to leave two couches at our house and meet all those required criteria? We have no carport or garage to cover the couches, And our house faces a busy street. Given the size of the packages, I doubt that the driver would be able to secure or hide them.”
The customer service representative did tell Todd that if the couches are damaged or missing, THEN they could contact them back to open a case to have the situation looked into.
5 hours and 45 minutes later, Todd arrived home.
And there were the boxes, all (air quotes) “secured and hidden”… in the middle of their drive way. Sitting on their ends, contrary to the instructions on the side of the boxes saying they were to sit flat on their sides.
One of those boxes was pretty banged up as well.
In their frustration, the couple decided not to open the boxes but they did decide to email both the wholeseller and the delivery service to let them know of the damage and the ‘secure and hidden’ location of the packages.
Todd included photos he took to document what had happened.
As well, since the couple were in the middle of moving, they didn’t want to take the couches out, inspect them, only to have to try and rebox them again for the move… So they moved them into their shed for coverage and protection and and the businesses know he would touch base with them after the 18th, when the couple would move and open the boxes.
The wholeseller informed them they couldn’t do anything about the delivery company and their service.
The delivery company did not respond to Todd’s email.
When Todd and Vanessa finally did see move from their old house to their new home, they removed the couch packaging to find… no damage.
No damage of any kind to either of the couches. So they didn’t have to follow up with either company about shipping or replacing.
Todd and Vanessa now have a new home to enjoy… and one less store to get products shipped from.
And that ends the story of… The Couch with Abandonment Issues
How this is Perceived by the Customer
Through the eyes of this customer, let’s look at the emotional impact of this customer experience.
Todd felt like a number. Couch purchased. Delivery made. Forget the fact it wasn’t done well or the lack of compassion. Those company checked off boxes and would only really follow up if Todd filed a case of complaint.
It felt very much like a “well what are you gonna do?” First from the wholesaler who wouldn’t take responsibility of the delivery service they employ, and 2nd from the delivery service that didn’t deliver as promised. Not even caring enough to take their own criteria seriously.
What Worked or Could Have Been Done Better
From this tale, what’s the one thing your business can take away to better serve your customers.
Show Your Customers You Care
- About Your Products – If you want your customers to value your product, you must show respect for it yourself. How it’s displayed, how it’s delivered, adds or detracts from the customer experience. Whether it’s an online product, consultancy or a physical product, make sure it’s treated with care, demonstrating it’s value, not the equivalent of being left to the elements in someone’s driveway.
- About Your Service – Review how you deliver your service. That includes if you hire another company to deliver that service or product for you. Every touchpoint with your customer impacts their feelings towards you. Happy, sad, frustrated, thrilled, make sure that every bit of your business provides the experience you want to provide and best represents you. In this case, the website’s stated estimated delivery time that Todd was basing his decisions on said 10-15 days… instead it was 4-5 days. Sure, faster is better but be honest with what you’re communicating.
- About your Customer – provide the ingredients that show you care for your customer. They’re the same ingredients you would use to make and keep any relationship: listen, take responsibility, apologize, help where you can, etc. etc. Here, we had the root business say it’s ”not my problem” and there’s nothing they could do, while the delivery service just hid. Neither took any responsibility for the delivery, or the security of the delivery.
In your business, make sure your actions demonstrate the level of care you want to be known for and have your customers tell others about.
Morale of the Story:
Kindness is King
How you communicate, how you make an effort, how you show up … over the phone, through email, in someone’s drive way… being kind will always provide the better memorable experience.