I have yet to receive a product I ordered online on August 29th. It’s late by anyone’s standards, particularly in the age of Amazon Prime, where you barely finish placing your order before there’s a courier at the door. Hopefully, by the time you get to read this blog the product will have arrived. I might treat it as a Christmas present and put it under the tree.
What IS this thing I am so patiently waiting for? A metal water bottle from Bee Hydrated Manchester. My children both take one to school every day, and I take one everywhere. Being a trainer and a performer is thirsty work, I travel a lot and left my previous water bottle on a train. So far this year I have left a water bottle, a laptop, and a suitcase behind, but I haven’t left a child (yet), so it’s all good. I refuse to buy plastic water bottles for environmental reasons, and to avoid wasting money. Most main train stations have refill taps freely available now and we don’t have to pay to use the loo anymore either, so you can hydrate happily.
But Kerry, you can get these bottles in most big supermarkets now. Yes, I know, but this one decorated in rainbow stripes and I’d been led to believe profits were going to the LGBT Foundation charity in Manchester, with whom I have worked and attended their brilliant events witnessing first-hand the important work they do in the LGBT community. So, for these reasons I really feel like it’s worth hanging on.
I sent an email chasing up my order mid- September and received a prompt reply promising my bottle soon, but nothing happened. My next emails remained unanswered and I started to worry it was some kind of scam. So, I contacted the LGBT Foundation in case they knew anything. They took my details and soon after I received a call from a woman keen to explain.
She was a tutor and explained that the venture was a project by three of her students with little or no experience in business whose idea had taken off very quickly. They had become overwhelmed with demand and had supply problems themselves. They had panicked, not reporting to their tutors that they were struggling to keep up with the logistics alongside their studies and full-time jobs. In a common primitive brain reaction to stress they had buried their heads in the sand.
This phone call is why I am still hanging on for the product. The brain likes to know why; WHY has my parcel not arrived? WHY is Brexit taking so long? WHY do fish and chips taste better outside? (Sorry I can’t answer the last two).
The phone call answered my questions, and the back-story fits with my values. These students set out to do a good thing and they are following it through with some help now they have ‘fessed up to their teething problems.
There are also other factors here. Without the water bottle I have felt frustrated but life has carried on, and luckily, I was given a free one recently. In a Laughology session the client (Fujitsu) gave me a free water bottle with their branding on it. I considered telling new acquaintances my name is Fujitsu and the water bottle is personalised, but I tried it once, said it too fast and the other person just said ‘Bless you’ and offered me a tissue.
Anyway, my need wasn’t urgent. In different circumstances and with a different product or service I might have had less patience. My personal circumstances were outside of the group’s control. What was within their control was how the situation was dealt with. I was so heartened to receive an authentic phone call from a human being who took the time to explain why my order had not arrived, and how and when it would be resolved.
Of course, mistakes must be avoided and you must work to the highest standard to prevent them from happening but if they do (and they will) here are some tips.
TOP TIPS FOR CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE WHEN SOMETHING GOES WRONG:
- Find out what your customers’ common values are and align your product or service delivery and communication with these values.
- Consider the best (not always the quickest) way to respond that will help your customer understand.
- Admit mistakes truthfully - customers can smell BS a mile off and honesty builds customer trust and loyalty.
- Put yourself in their shoes and imagine all the questions they might have before you contact them and have the answers ready, e.g. give your customer reasons why this has happened, HOW you will resolve it and when, so there is a feeling of satisfaction in moving forward.
Laughology Customer Experience Programmes help you put the customer at the heart of your business.