Although millions of people are hooked to online stores, I was rather skeptical about their credibility. I didn’t want to buy something which I could not touch and carry back home with me after swiping my credit card. However, I’d always wanted to buy my husband an exclusive watch and had run out of options at the local malls.
Another birthday was approaching and I was steadily running short of time without being able to identify the right timepiece. My friend suggested an online store - I could not help but jump on the bandwagon and place an order after identifying the perfect antique replica with an artificial crocodile leather strap and black dial. I was a bit paranoid the watch might not look as attractive in real life as in the website image and carefully read comments posted by other customers. Eventually, I felt confident enough to place an order and typed the message I’d wanted them to engrave on the watch. I received a phone call from their verification department in a couple of minutes to confirm my order and was informed the watch would be delivered within 5 working days.
Four days later, a Friday, the watch arrived. I was thrilled by their promptness and glad to see the watch looked better in reality than its photograph. I flipped it over to read the personalized message, my jaw dropped – my husband’s name, the personalized message and my name were all incorrect! It wasn’t for our Anniversary and his name was not ‘KC’! Cursing, I dialed their customer service toll free number, which sounded its incessant beeping and irritating pre-recorded “You are a valued customer. Your call is important to us, please hold the line..” message which didn’t alleviate my stress levels. Finally, a customer representative came online and I fumed about the goof up and shouted out that his Birthday was in a couple of days! She responded politely all through my ranting, which actually helped calm me a bit and assured me an employee would phone me within a few hours.
Forty five minutes later, a soft spoken person informed me that the issue would be resolved in a couple of days, I inquired if he meant “working days” or “days” since the birthday was on Monday?
The next afternoon, a Saturday, I received another call from someone in the company who introduced himself as the ‘store manager’. He apologized and assured me that my watch would be delivered by Monday. However, I informed him about the importance of it being delivered before - it was my husband’s birthday gift and was told they would prioritize my delivery.
Sunday evening, my watch reached me – I was surprised, thrilled and relieved – the thought of wishing my husband empty handed had been horrific! The delivery boy dialed a number on his phone and handed it to me, the person on the other end was their store manager asking if the watch was exactly as per my instructions. I handed over the previous delivery to their employee and thanked the manager for keeping with his commitment and understanding the importance of this gift for my husband. He mentioned that there were multiple departments involved with capturing, preparing and delivering their orders – IT, call center, warehouse and the delivery team. Often, there would be lapses in sharing information related to customers without a common system, also, often managers could not pinpoint where an issue originated. Their legacy system had been implemented to simply capture details of orders, the rest was handled through assorted software programs and rough notes scribbled on paper!
My husband was pleasantly surprised by the gift, he appreciated my thoughtfulness but was unaware of its history! I received a parcel from the company a month later, a day before my birthday - the same watch in a ladies size with a birthday card and message which read “We apologize for almost ruining your husband’s birthday surprise, hopefully this will partly make up for it”. I smiled and felt my customer experience wasn't so bad after all!
The next time I called them to order a cuckoo clock a year later, they had all my details at their fingertips, “Good afternoon, ma’am! Are you calling to order a gift for your husband’s birthday next week?” the agent asked.
“Uh..Yes..” I said, a little startled and asked “How did you know?”
“We ensure you there will be no mix-up with the delivery this time! We have imported customer information from previous interactions into our new CRM software – it displays all the important dates and order related activities”, he responded. “I also see that you live near the Metro Mall, we have recently opened a new outlet there - may I SMS its address?” he continued.
“OK” I responded, happy to shop with them, “Do you stock chiming clocks too?”