Want to keep me as your customer?

What do you do when you have a good customer service experience? How about a bad one? I am kind of a nut. Okay, Chris would say more than a nut. If I have a bad experience, I can guarantee that I will be alerting the company. If I have a good experience, I can guarantee that I will be alerting the company. Below are two recent – shall I say – adventures!? One was annoying and the other started out annoying and the company eventually tried to fix it.

Late last week Chris and I were dropping his parents off at the airport. We decided to stop by IKEA on the way home to return a comforter cover. (Who knew that IKEA sells covers that are not the same size as regular US comforters. I should have thought of that!) What a bummer of a customer service experience that was for us. We had to wait for 30 minutes. In that time they called 15 numbers. Now you might think that 15 numbers meant 15 customers, but it did not. Many of the individuals with numbers before us left. They had waited too long. Many times during the 30 minutes we were there waiting this is what was happening.

Returns desk at IKEA

Returns desk at IKEA

As you can see in this photo, there are no customers being helped. There are 4 representatives at the desk, but no customers. It was a frustrating experience to say the least. You might think that I am complaining about just one experience, but I am not. Just a week before we were dropping Chris’ brother off at the airport, and we decided to venture to IKEA with Chris’ parents. Chris stood in line at the Returns area for a similar amount of time (he is patient)!

I will definitely think again before I purchase something at IKEA. I will make sure that it is something we have no desire to return, because I am not sure I can handle going back to the Returns area! Have you had a similar experience with IKEA?

My second experience was with Shoebuy.com. I ordered a pair of slippers just before Christmas. Had I been faster with my purchase, they would have expedited it so I could have it before Christmas. I was not in any rush, so I made the purchase, got free shipping, and 25% off. Always up for getting a deal I made the purchase on December 21. My order arrived today. When I opened the box, and tried on the slipper, it did not fit. I then noticed that the slipper was a different size than the size listed on the box. They were an entire size smaller. Annoyed? You bet I was. I had waited 2 weeks for my order and it was incorrect. Most likely a mistake at the manufacturer, since the paper in the shoe box did not look like it had ever been touched.

I called Shoebuy and asked what they could do for me. Nothing. The only option was for me to print the mailing label they were going to email me, and return the slippers. Once they received them they would proceed to send me a new pair. So all in all I was probably looking at another 3 weeks. That would be the beginning of February. By then, my mind starts to think about flip-flops, not slippers. I continued to push, and explain that it was not my fault. Would they be able to expedite them? No. Could they send them now? Only if they charged me again. The representative was nice, but kept saying there was nothing they could do.

I am a bit of a Zappo’s evangelist. I probably should just have paid full price at Zappos where I know the customer service is creative and top-notch. (Maybe next time I will). In the end, I pushed her to speak to her supervisor and call me back. She called me back within 10 minutes, and said we could start a new order, where she would charge me $10 for expedited shipping and give me 10% more off. I would be charged all this and later the billing department would credit me for the extra $10 shipping charge and give me 10% off. Exhausted and frustrated I decided to take this step. I should have my slippers in a few days, and they will then credit me for the ones I return. Yet, that only happened because I pushed, and allowed them to go ahead and charge me again. Otherwise, you know February and flip-flops on the mind.

My issue is why not empower employees to be able to fix customer service issues quickly and easily? Why does it have to take a 30 minute phone call and a frustrated customer? In the end, I have to return the slippers and watch that I am refunded the money, and I have to watch that I am credited for the shipping and 10% off. This puts the work and follow through on the customer, not the company. I do not really care about the money, it is the principle of what it takes for a customer to have quality service. If Shoebuy empowered their employees to do what they need to do to fix a mistake, they might find quicker call handling times and happier customers. If IKEA noticed how long their customers were waiting, should they maybe hire more individuals? Add more computers for Returns? Or maybe they want you to decide returning their product is not worth the wait.

What do you think?