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The Black Friday and Cyber Monday Sales have come and gone for another year but in it’s wake this year I have been left with not only an empty credit card but an empty mailbox!  Today’s events have shown me how crucial customer service is to the success of your social media marketing and in fact your business success in general.  Let me explain…..

I’m a sale junkie (ask Mark)!  I’m prepared to plan, research (a lot), plot and wait to get the ultimate bargain.  In fact I hate buying anything that’s not on sale.  I don’t consider myself ‘cheap’ but rather savvy enough to want to get the ultimate value for my dollar, particularly when this is on discretionary goods (ie things I want rather than need).

So was the case with buying Mark a new Digital SLR for Christmas. For anybody following us, you know we were recently married and have held the honeymoon off until the end of the year.  So, with a month long holiday to capture, Mark’s camera became the focus of my bargain hunting activities.

I signed up for Cyber Monday updates, I was on all the mailing lists – I had done my research. I was on watch lists and deal alerts so, when I saw a great package for a Canon camera pack (2 lenses, case etc) at Target, I knew it was fantastic value.  A quick skype conversation to Mark to confirm he was willing to move from Nikon to Canon, and the deal was done.

I knew I needed to make a fast decision to take advantage of a deal that represented hundreds of dollars in savings.  Order placed online, credit card provided, order confirmation received, and camera was on it’s way – or so I THOUGHT?!?!

That afternoon, I received a call from my bank to confirm that this purchase was a legitimate transaction on my credit card as I was using our USA address for shipping (we are global citizens with businesses, addresses and telephone numbers in several countries).  All confirmed and camera was on it’s way – or so I THOUGHT?!?!?

The next day, after 3 emails confirming my order and showing me how to track it’s progress online, I received an email from Target headed, “Your order was canceled.”  The email stated simply, “There was a problem with your order…. as a result, we had to cancel it.  Still want the items you ordered? We can help. Just contact us”. So I used the link to their online form to contact them, thinking the bank authorisation may have been the ‘problem’, to have the order re-processed and the camera would be on it’s way – or so I THOUGHT?!?!?!?

That’s where the frustration and complete lack of customer service begins!  I’ll give you the short version to save your sanity and make my point.  Some 4 emails, 10 Twitter messages and Facebook posts later – we do not have a camera on it’s way to us or the money back on our credit card.  What has infuriated me the most is that 3 days later, the camera is still available for sale on their website at the same price!

So you have to ask, was this really such a great deal or are there hundreds or thousands of “us” out there that have given Target our money for orders that are never going to arrive?

There has been considerable backlash on social media about cancelled orders and orders that are not going to be delivered for 6-8 weeks (well after Christmas).  The social media team has stopped responding – Big Mistake – HUGE MISTAKE!

Now disgruntled customers like me are taking a small legitimate complaint to the internet and making a very big deal out of it.

This could have been handled (I believe) in one well crafted ‘personalised’ email with an explanation, apology and here’s how you get your money back information.  A gift card with ‘please do not let this stop you from shopping with us in the future’ would probably have prompted a blog post and social media exposure on how to turn a bad customer experience around!

Instead I’m writing this post and investigating where else to buy the camera from immediately.  I still have not received an explanation as to why the order was cancelled let alone an apology and/or solution.  Target still has a hold on the funds from my credit card and has not offered to ship the order even though the camera remains for sale on their website – what tha?

To top it off, the only non-pro forma email I have received advised me “Don’t worry” the charge will “drop off your account in the next few business days.”  BUT “If the charge does show up on your next statement, please get in touch

Hmmm - Is This Customer Service?

with us right away.” SERIOUSLY that’s what it said (see screen shot).

 

How do you think I feel about shopping with Target ever again?  Do you think I would recommend them to family and friends? I have spend thousands of dollars with them in the past – my Son even works for them!  But I have turned from loyal customer to anti-target campaigner in one bad transaction.

Hmm what would you say to Target if you were me? And, more importantly, what are your customers saying about your business and service? And how are you responding?

I ask that last question because I believe, from their side, Target does not feel they have done anything wrong.  For their own (unexplained) operational reasons, they cancelled an order they could not deliver, they will process a refund to my card and I can then go and buy a different product or from somewhere else.

BUT, put yourself in my shoes, or in the shoes of your client, and you see a disappointed, disgruntled person that has paid for an order that was cancelled without notice or explanation, now does not have the camera for a very important occasion, does not have the funds to go and buy elsewhere while sale prices are available, has been frustrated by lack of a personal response on the medium that I chose to order on (online) and am now venting my grievance on social media.

So there is the lesson in this for all business owners.  Put yourself in your client’s shoes and then respond as you would want to be treated.  Take the time to understand their grievances – truly listen and then respond in a personal fashion on the medium that is most convenient for them – not you.

In the era of digital commerce and two-way conversations on Social Media – mass automated, non-committal responses pumped out to prompt customers to chase you for service is simply “Right OFF Target”.

Oh and Target if you are listening,  I’d love you to chose to turn this experience around and happy to report back on the blog if you do….. we’re waiting.

Mark, this means I’m back to looking for the ‘perfect’ camera deal for you – sorry don’t blame me, blame Target!

 

Tell Us….
Have you had a terrible customer experience?  What did you learn from it to improve your own business? Or how could the company have turned your bad experience around?
We’d love you comments below or on twitter at:
www.twitter.com/MarkandZoe
or share with our Facebook Community at:
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Have an awesome day, I’m off camera shopping…….