Something Rob Rogers, Director Fleet & Supply Chain Technology Delivery at ARI, said in his guest appearance in class really struck a chord. He was sharing how the COVID 19 crisis has forced his company to improve processes in their everyday work to support the remote workforce. I thought about it and how it affects my employer and… he is RIGHT! At my company, we have the luxury of working from home one day a week, no questions asked. But in the first few days of complete lock-down and everyone working from home every day, there was substantial degradation in internet service and VPN connections to the point we were advised to only get on the VPN if absolutely necessary.
This makes me consider those online businesses that may have brick and mortar locations but primarily do their business online. I had a recent experience where I needed a replacement part for one of my devices and went straight to the manufacturer versus a reseller. I navigated through the website as expected with minimal issues. The company notified me by email my order processed and then shipped. However, once I received my package, while the packing slip was correct, the actual item was not. I immediately proceeded to call the customer service… no answer. I then sent a very friendly email describing the error and… no response for days.
What followed was a string of increasing and frustrating attempts to contact the company through email, Facebook, Twitter, and the 1-800 number, all with zero response for TWO months! (As of the writing of this post, I still have not heard from the company.)
What part of the process from the eCommerce, to order handling, fulfillment, and shipping went so drastically wrong? Not to mention the customer support process after the fact. I noted that the company continued with email and social media promotions on the sales side but there was zero customer support to retain or even to appease the existing customer base. What the company failed to do in my opinion can be summarized (brilliantly, if I may add) by ensuring that “your customer relationships outlast coronavirus”. (Waldron & Wetherbe, 2020) Recognizing that EVERYONE in the process is experiencing some sort of change to their normal routine is essential. Additionally, the company being honest, humble, accountable for mistakes, and listening to their customers is key. (Massoussi, 2020)
Getting to the Root of the Problem
I would imagine that if this company were to resolve the problems that led to so much customer
dissatisfaction as referenced in the Facebook review score that dropped from 3.7 to 3.3 out of 5 stars*, they need to perform an exercise in Root Cause Analysis. As referenced in Exhibit 1, a simple 5 Whys Analysis may put them on the path to improving customer relations.
In conclusion, this company has severely damaged its reputation, in my opinion. It may be too late for some customers, but the opportunity to make things right and fight their way back into the trust and faith of the customer is there for the taking.
It’s after the fact. If you were consulted on how to improve the Brand Image for this company, what sort of action would you take to makes things right with your existing customer base?
Is there a Marketing Campaign that can address this or does the problem speak to a deeper issue?
*Data retrieved from their Facebook page on two different occasions; 4/7/2020 and 6/8/2020.
- Leprince-Ringuet, D. (2020, April 9). Remote-working checklist: 10 top challenges you’ll face during the giant work-from-home experiment. Retrieved from https://www.zdnet.com/article/remote-working-checklist-10-top-challenges-youll-face-during-the-giant-work-from-home-experiment/
- Massoussi, T. (2020, April 23). The importance of listening to customers during COVID-19. Retrieved from https://www.eptica.com/blog/importance-listening-customers-during-covid-19
- Waldron, T., & Wetherbe, J. (2020, April 20). Ensure That Your Customer Relationships Outlast Coronavirus. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2020/04/ensure-that-your-customer-relationships-outlast-coronavirus