Yesterday I wrote about how AT&T wireless treated me to show how some companies are putting the “service” back in customer service. Today, I’d like to present another great example and it comes from a different perspective.
The company is Carl’s Golfland, an online retailer. At least, I thought they were just an online retailer. Turns out they’re one of the oldest golf retailers around and they were chosen for the 27th consecutive time as one of Golf Digest‘s Top 100 Golf Shops. Carl’s is the only off course golf store to be named 100 best every year since the inception of the award. I suspect this might have had something to do with the service. More about that in a second.
They were recommended to me by a golf buddy who knew I was looking for a golf show that’s difficult to find, at least at a reasonable price. I went to the site, placed an order (great prices!) and received a confirmation mail almost immediately. Very good ordering and communication experience. However, the next day I got another mail – the shoes I had ordered had, in fact, been out of stock when I ordered them. As happens sometimes, the computer inventory hadn’t kept up with the physical inventory (I had this happen every so often when I was running an online store – it’s tricky). The note I received could not have been more pleasant and included a few proposed solutions – same shoe different color (with a link to it), a discount on a better shoe (with a link), or wait a few days for the inventory to restock. Since I needed the shoes quickly, I chose the different color (which I actually like better now that I have them).
The series of email exchanges were not with “customer service” – it went to an individual’s email box (thanks Tim!) and he promised me he’d make sure they got to me quickly (which they did a day later – no charge for what I suspect was upgraded shipping). They turned what might have been a big negative (first time customer, incorrect inventory, delayed order fulfillment) into a positive (I will be ordering from Carl’s again and have already recommended them to another golfing buddy). I suspect that their main business is still in bricks and mortar has something to do with this. It’s hard to look customers in the eye and blow them off (especially if you’re not in NYC or another big city). The fact that the store is rated very highly makes me think they emphasize the customer and this has carried through to their online store as well.
That’s something to think about – do you treat customers you know from cyberspace differently than the ones you’ve met in person? Why is that so?
I’ve spent a fair amount of time in this space complaining about shoddy customer service.
(Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
I’m continually surprised by how few companies emphasize the human touch in a time when technology is making commerce less human in many ways. However, in the last couple of days I’ve had a couple of really good customer service experiences and I thought that in the interest of balance I’d spend a post or two writing about them. I think there are some lessons to be learned from each.
The first good experience came from the folks at AT&T. I’ve been pretty vocal about them when they pushed the phone insurance scam and I had some issues with them selling me a Blackberry over the last couple of years. I recently took a business trip to Canada and upon landing in the Great White North I got a text telling me that I was on another network and would be incurring data roaming charges. I read it quickly and was under the impression that the charge would be about $30 if I used under 15Mb. Not a problem.
Imagine my surprise when I received my bill and the data roaming charges were close to $300, even though my data usage was under 15Mb. As it turns out, the text was more about an available international data plan to which I needed to subscribe than what was going on. My fault, I misunderstood (easy to do when you’re reading a text while rushing off a plane to make a connection). I immediately called AT&T and after a few minutes on hold I spoke to someone in international data (which is where I was routed for some reason). Getting to this human was not easy – from a business point of view I know why they bury the “human” option but it’s difficult to defend from a service point of view. This person transferred me to billing, where I spent a minute explaining the issue. Without me asking, the rep asked me to hold a minute, came back on and said I’d be credited with the full amount of the data charges and explained the international data plans to me (which I will sign up for). No hassle, no begging, no treating me like an idiot. What a breath of fresh air!
I’m hoping that the rep had access to see that I’d been a customer practically since cell phones were invented (like 1993?) and we have multiple phones. That should have made it an easier refund. If they didn’t know that, I give them even more credit for treating a customer like we all should: the reason we’re in business and someone who is given every benefit of the doubt even when they might be dead wrong.
It’s a good lesson for all of us who deal with customers (and who doesn’t!). Despite my occasional issues with them, AT&T will continue to be my service of choice.