Customer Service – The Entire Experience

May 30, 2011

Business, Customer Service

walmart-logo image | Customer Service - The Entire Experience

Last month for Mother’s Day I decided to get my wife a new sports watch. She was looking for a watch that she would use for running that would track her distance, time, heart rate and general pace and provider her throughout her run an update on whether she was ahead of her desired pace, behind or on target. Sounds like a lot of stuff for a watch but believe it or not they are out there, reasonably priced, and work quite well. I did some homework and found a year old model from Garmin, while a little big, met the requirements and the watch was being discounted quite a bit on a number of websites.

Next step was to do some shopping and as we all know there are many effective ways to handle this on the internet. Within 10 minutes I found the watch, in stock and, at a great price through walmart.com. I followed the link from the website I used to compare prices, assured availability, decided on a shipping method, and placed the order all in less than 5 minutes.  All good so far…

The commitment made by Walmart.com was to have the watch to me in 3-5 business days.  Seemed reasonable considering the standard shipping option I took and 3 days later – as committed – the watch showed up packed perfectly and new as promised. My wife loved getting the watch and it’s been a great tool for her and her running.

So what went wrong?

A week after I received the new watch and it being used several times I received an email from the customer service team at walmart.com wanting to know if I would take a survey around the purchasing experience I recently went through. The survey would take 15-20 minutes to complete. Considering the purchasing experience took no more than 5 it just didn’t seem right that a survey to understand my purchasing experience would take longer than the experience itself.  What could they possibly need to ask me that would take that long? I couldn’t imagine more than a 2-3 minute survey with the option to add a minute or 2 if I had comments or suggestions.  I decided to start the survey as curiosity was getting the best of me. After 3 pages of questions that, for me, didn’t get to the essence of the experience and my % completion meter showing 25% was done. I didn’t complete the survey yet provided some feedback to the customer service department explaining my position, logic, and in a few sentences a summary of my purchasing experience which was great. I offered Walmart.com’s customer service department an option to contact me to discuss this further. I wanted to help.

A few days later I received another automated email asking me if I would be interested in taking a survey about my experience in dealing with their customer service department. I looked closer and this was in response to the survey I started, never completed, and me providing walmart.com details of my concern and suggestion for improvements. Instead of a specific response and interest in learning more, instead I received another “form” email asking about my experience. I couldn’t believe that walmart.com wanted me to take a survey about my experience concerning me taking a survey. Ugh!

What started out as a very good purchasing experience had now turned into a less than satisfactory response and, worse, still no formal acknowledgement of the issue I raised.

listen image | Customer Service - The Entire ExperienceSince then I have reached out to walmart.com to provide my assistance and input with no response. They have clearly spent a ton of money getting the purchasing experience right. Great pricing, availability of product, ease of navigating their commerce site, and shipping options that make sense along with a very easy way to track shipping and get automated tracking updates.

Walmart.com missed the piece that could have put the icing on the cake for them and in an easy way provide them with useful information to make things even better.  As companies like Walmart set new standards for the shopping experience, customer service must do the same.

A lot of what a customer service department needs to understand is actually captured in the data throughout the automated order process. Think about it – walmart.com knew what I ordered, when I ordered it, how long I was on the site, product availability, shipping option selected, and even if I received the order when promised.

What they don’t know is how all of these things impacted me – in essence the experience from my point of view.

This is what they need to assess and what their questions should be oriented towards. This doesn’t take 15 to 20 minutes. In the end it comes down to how I perceive the Walmart brand and specifically walmart.com against their objectives. Was I satisfied to the point that I will alter the brand positively through my willingness to order again and to tell my friends? In this case I would move from satisfied to a promoter and that’s what matters most.

About Frank Picarello

Frank is a well-respected leader in providing technology services to small and medium-sized businesses. He is currently COO for TeamLogic IT, Chairperson for CompTIA's Small Business Owner's Group, and a member of CompTIA's Unified Communication Committee.

View all posts by Frank Picarello

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