In a previous post I picked on a Shutterfly, Inc. transaction to demonstrate how easy it is to spot customer service problems.  Now, let’s turn our attention to what they should do to atone for their customer service sins.

First, a recap of their transgressions:

  1. Checkout step did not accept the promotional code.
  2. Customer Service Team unaware of current sales/marketing promotions.
  3. Customer Service Team has insufficient tools to interact with customers on their terms.
  4. Service response did not yield desired result on order ($10 discount).

To recover (in order of importance):

  • Commit – Care about service and be committed to delivering it.  Customer service should be part of your culture; if it isn’t even the best strategy will fail.
  • Get it Right the First Time – The team that thought offering a promotional code would be beneficial to customers must test the process so that it works in a variety of scenarios.  It simply isn’t good enough to dream up the good idea.  The value comes in implementation which requires testing.
  • CommunicateCustomer service cannot be the last to know about changes of any type.  After all, the customer service team will be the first to hear about the problem and when they are caught dumb-struck your entire brand suffers.
  • Invest in Tools – The service team must be able to engage with customers in ways that are meaningful and convenient to the customer.  Restrictions like the one described earlier are a further insult in an already strained encounter.  Imagine what would happen if the “policy” had been to visit corporate headquarters in person… your terms (i.e. not convenient).
  • Over-Recover – The customer expected to pay $10 less on the initial order.  The company should immediately send a check for more than $10 to the customer.  The amount doesn’t really matter as long as the company compensates the customer for the original value plus an amount for pain and suffering.

Superheroes know the pivot point; that leaping tall buildings takes work and commitment.  By committing to deliver quality service you can create satisfied customers who are willing to promote your company’s product.  Unfortunately, Shutterfly starts weak and finishes weaker by failing to over-recover.  Their uninspired response of a promised discount on a future purchase doesn’t even qualify as service.  (Remember, our experience shows they don’t keep commitments and if they won’t do that what’s the likelihood of a future purchase?)

For the customer service superheroes out there… what recovery steps did I miss?

Customer Service Superheroes – Leaping Tall Buildings
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