Practical Ecommerce

Three small business customer service fails and one that works

In the lead-up to Christmas I realised how disproportionately annoyed customers can get with some of the businesses that are out there by experiencing unprofessional service first-hand – especially after comparing it to a first-rate one.

Company A

We’re about to renovate our house so I Googled for “bathroom designer Melbourne” and found Company A on the first page (they’ve got great SEO) who is highly awarded. My first clue should have been the high-end bathrooms featured on their website. I explained we had a $15,000-20,000 budget and the woman booking the designer didn’t pre-qualify me but asked for $280 upfront for his visit and subsequent design, which could be deducted from our job. I paid.

He visited, made notes, asked questions regarding the job they had to do, and then emailed his design and quote. For the money, I was expecting it to be professional-looking, perhaps with a 3D view which is easy enough with computers. Instead it was hand-drawn – and not that well! The quote knocked me off my chair. $38,000….

I emailed back of course and said that was beyond us. I have never heard another word from them – not even a customer feedback survey. My partner was furious with me for wasting the money.

Company B

I noticed my sister struggling to get the roasting pan out of the oven and discovered she didn’t have insulated mitts. So I had an idea for a fun stocking-filler gift and Googled “personalised oven mitts” where I found Company B. The website wasn’t particularly professional-looking and there was nowhere to actually upload my wording for the design, so I emailed the owner who asked me to send it to her Hotmail address. I didn’t get a confirmation she’d received it but persevered and the following day paid via Paypal. I didn’t get a confirmation for that either. I then emailed her again and shortly afterwards she sent the design. There was no shipping confirmation and I don’t imagine she’ll send a follow-up survey either. A pity, as the mitts arrived yesterday and they’re really good.

Company C

My mother mentioned she wanted some flat bookends and I discovered some fun ones in the shape of an ampersand symbol by Company C, an English website. Again I paid via Paypal. And again, I received no confirmation. When I replied to the Paypal address, it bounced. I then emailed the address on the Contact Us page six days ago. And still I have heard nothing. I will have to call their office late at night here to get through and see what’s happening but I’m unlikely to receive it in time for Christmas if I get it at all. Disappointing.

Company D

Ever since I was treated for a thyroid deficiency I have been taking iodine. A couple of years ago I found an online retailer called Natural Living. Thanks to their packaged offers, I buy iodine, vitamin D, omega-3 and magnesium. I get re-order reminder emails when they’re running low. I get thank you emails for my orders. I get notifications when the products are being shipped. They arrive fairly quickly. And I also get regular text-only promotions telling me about other vitamins and minerals and their impact upon my health which I keep. I trust these guys and will always buy from them.

The one thing these four purchases have in common is communication (or lack of it).

Why would any retailer not have a system in place to keep their customers informed and satisfied?

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