Please care about your customers…

by Diane on 13/07/2010

… even if you hold a monopoly.

That’s all I have to say after my experience with ShopCity, who seem to be the only ones selling filters for our Mitsubishi heat pump in New Zealand. At least they were the only ones who were easy enough to find when we needed to replace the filters. We tried to order online, but we were able to put only one filter into the shopping cart, we needed two. So we assumed they were out of stock and used the online form, asking to get notified as soon as new stock arrived.

Two-and-a-half working days later we got a response, telling us that the filters had to be ordered by contacting customer support via phone. No further explanation if they were really out of stock or why else it would only be possible to order a single filter instead of two. Since I had no other choice, I called the phone number they had provided. First of all I was given various options on how to get to the person I needed to talk to, luckily customer service/ sales was the second option. I pressed 2 and got into a waiting line where I was told my call was important to them. They told me 5 times before I finally had someone on the phone. When I said I wanted to place an order, I was put on hold again. This time with radio running in the background; some kind of quiz show where the host had two callers on the line and there were competing in whatever discipline. Then my call was answered and I was asked if I held an account with them. No? Then I would have to use the website to order. Grrrrr.

Luckily the lady on the phone picked up my mood and was happy to let me order via phone after I had told her my story. She took my details and put me on hold while my credit card details were being processed. This time I had to listen to radio advertisement, ironically advertisement for a heat pump. Apparently my payment got through and I was promised the filters will be delivered tomorrow. We will see…

It would have been so easy to make this a more pleasant experience:

  • If your customers can only order a limited amount your product, tell them the reason why. In this case a simple message that they’ve been out of stock and what the options in this case were, would have been great.
  • If you expect customers to call you, please give them a positive experience. Telling them how important their call is doesn’t do the trick, if they have to listen to this multiple times while being transferred again and again. Also forcing them to listen to radio is not a good choice, at least not if the radio station isn’t playing music.
  • If you have a sales department never ever let them start a conversations with “you should order from our website”. There will always be a reason why your customer is calling instead of using the online shop. They might have tried the online shop without success, or they might feel more comfortable ordering on the phone. Whatever the reason is, please don’t question their choice.

I guess in this case it’s really a matter of holding the monopoly. If I didn’t have to order with them, I wouldn’t even have called. I would have tried the next online shop. But knowing that owners of Mitsubishi heat pumps have no other choice, apparently makes ShopCity a bit careless about the customer experience. They will buy anyway, because no one else has what they need.

Update: The new filters really arrived the next day – at least one thing they were good at.

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