Addressing Customer Feedback


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A chum of mine recently told me a rather jolly customer service story at the pub. Reader, I know you’re busy, so I’ll give you highlights.

My friend, let’s call her Anna, if only because she is, in fact, called Anna, placed an online order with a leading retailer and received a confirmation e-mail stating the delivery date. Following that e-mail, she received 3 more, each one putting the delivery date back by a week, but never saying why.

To add to the situation, after the second “your order is delayed” e-mail, Anna received a customer survey. Question #5 was “Do you intend to return any of the items you purchased?” Given that she had yet to set eyes on her order, this was a tricky question to answer—although the survey insisted on a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in order to continue. There was, at least, an option that said “Would you like us to call you back?” Anna selected “yes”.

Almost a week later, they called. The response was brilliant.

Her delivery address was too long. The Website had auto-completed the address from her zip code so it displayed correctly on her order, but sent their systems into a manic loop which meant she’d never receive the items. She was told that it’s a known problem within the company, but got the impression it’s a low priority for resolution.

I’ve rarely witnessed such a special example of a business’ processes working against the customer. As Anna points out “I have received deliveries to that address from many other companies (from small craft businesses to the mighty Amazon), with no problems whatsoever.” This doesn’t suggest it’s an irresolvable problem to me.

This is a two-screw-ups-for-the-price-of-one situation really. First, the process problem with the address, and second, the badly executed survey. Furthermore, had the call-back process worked better, the survey might just have reduced the initial annoyance. There will always be processes that fail, and I think most people can accept that from time to time. But to receive a survey that asks irrelevant questions, and to offer a call back that takes nearly a week to happen doesn’t help. Surveys need back-end support because they don’t function effectively as standalone entities. For a customer survey to be powerful, it needs to be well-timed, appropriate, and followed up speedily where required. This one was none of those things.

Anna’s final statement sums up the result well “I won’t be ordering anything else from their Website, as I still have no idea how many characters are permitted in their address fields and have no intention of schlepping to some depot to collect the parcel. I could choose the deliver-to-store option, but I’m not terribly inclined to bother with that either, after experiencing their customer service.”

Enough said.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Carolyn Hall
Carolyn Hall is a Product Marketing Manager with Confirmit. Primary focus on creating marketing and PR materials that focus on the business value of technology. Articles published in a number of marketing and customer-focused publications, and experience of hosting round table session with senior marketing executives.


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