It's 9:00 PM. I usually am in bed right now snuggling with my kid, but this evening was unusual in that I had to order a chair for my home office. It seems like it should be such an easy thing to do. After all it is 2014, and we do have this resource called the internet. But when I buy furniture I like to try it on for size.
So, I went to the local Office Depot/Office Max to try on a chair for size.
I found one. It was a great price, too. There I was thinking I would be getting a deal. Wrong. The store didn't have the color or model in stock, despite its inventory counting three. The store worker was kind. He called around and found a few stores that had the inventory. Upon speaking with the other store, with a credit card in hand ready to pay, I was told "Sorry ma'am, but you have to come in and buy the chair. Then it takes us 24 hours to assemble it."
You've got to be kidding me, right?
Okay, as I'm embracing this news about to head home, I decide to call another store on the list that has inventory to see what other options I had. Someone answers, and then puts me on hold for 10 minutes. Yes I said 10. It took another phone call back to the same store to get an answer. "Oh, you can buy it online. But they don't have the option to assemble it online, so you will have to assemble the chair yourself."
So my options at this point are to buy the chair across town (25 miles both ways), wait 24 hours to go back to pick it up or to order it and have it shipped to my home, un-assembled. Both are useless options!
People wonder why companies fail miserably and I will tell you.
1. Companies that don't take care or pride in getting things right, lose. If you create a culture of complacency, guess what you'll get? Expensive supply chain and point of sale systems exist for a reason: to stay in sync. Systems should reflect reality. Telling a customer you have 3, when you in fact have 0, is a waste of time and costs money. Ask yourself: are you creating the right culture that cares about getting your processes and systems right? If not, have a look.
2. Companies that don't understand their market or customer, die quickly. Who has the time today to chase a chair across town? Do customers typically want to put together chairs or do they need an end to end experience? Are you taking time to make the customer experience something they'll rave about to friends and families so you can grow your customer share?
3. Companies that don't value providing customer service are on the path to failure. Letting someone sit for 10 minutes is just wrong. It's like submitting something online and not getting an email back. I call this the black hole. You have NO idea where your request has gone. In today's always on-instant world, what's your response to the customer? Are you giving them the time and attention they need? Are you interacting the way you need to be to create trust in your brand?
Office Depot / Office Max has lost a customer. I'm done. Staples.com should be happy to know they have a new customer. Yes, I can get my chair ordered and assembled for pickup. I can even order and have the chair assembled on site. These guys get it. And when I called them to ask questions, I received prompt confident answers.
Have any of your own stories about complacent cultures, companies with no market savvy or employees that understand customer service?