I was in a newly opened store of a large big-box outdoor sports store, and saw an item on display that I had already decided to buy this summer. The displayed price was actually a bit less than what I had been encountering online, so I went ahead.
Unfortunately the one “in stock” on the shelf turned out to be a different model (in the wrong slot), and I didn’t complete the transaction. (A retail nightmare, where the customer clearly wants to buy a big-ticket item you thought you had, but actually didn’t.)
The salesperson behind the counter offered that I could order the item from their web site, have it shipped to the store, and I could pick it up without incurring any shipping charges. Seemed fair enough.
I went online, but the online price was higher than the in-store price. In a sort of reverse from the story I told in December, I emailed customer service and asked if they would match the in-store price for the item.
In a few minutes I got a reply, with an “Incident Number” that said they would, but I would have to call in the order to the 800 number.
All well and good.
I called, and of course “catalog sales” had to refer me to customer service.
Customer service, in turn, had no way to look up the “Incident Number” on the email. “I don’t have any way of referring to that…” (Yeah, go ahead and tell the customer what you can’t do.)
I was referred to someone else (in email? I don’t know). He could not look up the number either, so I read the email exchange back to him. He honored the price, took the order, and it is on the way.
What is the “incident number” even for if nobody can reference it? In this day and age of networked and cross-linked everything…. what can I say? Perhaps my old I.T. background showing here.
Turn around and face your systems from the customer’s perspective. Spend some time in the chalk circle. Think through how your process responds to unusual situations.
If a customer refers to something that you should know about your own process, but don’t, there is a kaizen opportunity here. You have an obstacle in the way of smooth seamless customer service. What concrete steps(s) will move you toward eliminating that barrier and smoothing things out?