I hope you all had a lovely Mother’s Day. My Mom is in Florida and I’m not so we celebrated the day separated by distance. In an attempt to bridge the geographic gap, I ordered some flowers for her last Friday from FTD. Frankly, I’m more of a “support local businesses” kind of guy but since FTD uses local florists to fill the orders and since I was in a time crunch on Friday, I used FTD’s site to place the order. Which I won’t be doing again. Of course, there are a few lessons for any business in the midst of this.
I asked that the flowers be delivered on Saturday. It gave them 24 hours and hopefully would avoid the peak period of deliveries yesterday on Mother’s Day. As Saturday night rolled around and I hadn’t received a phone call from Florida to let me know they arrived (my Mom always calls when we send her stuff), I began to get a little worried. By mid-afternoon Sunday, we had already called her to wish her a great day but nothing had arrived (we asked). Time to follow-up with FTD.
Lesson number one. On what is one of your busiest days of the year, don’t turn off customer service. When I called FTD’s line, I pushed “2” to check on my order status and was told (more or less) that we’re not answering the phone today because it would be overwhelming so use the web site. No humans. Hello? Learn from Butterball, who adds hundreds of reps to their turkey help line around Thanksgiving.
Lesson number two. Using the web site, I clicked to “check order status.” I found my order number and popped it in, expecting something like UPS‘ excellent tracking or Amazon‘s system. Nope. Within seconds, I had an email telling me “We have received your request to confirm that your gift was delivered. When we receive confirmation of delivery, we will notify you via email.” First, that’s NOT what I was seeking – I knew it hadn’t been delivered (my Mom is faster than your email!). Second, I still don’t have a confirmation email on delivery and yes, thankfully, the flowers did get delivered two hours after I began trying to get an update (and a full 52 hours after they were ordered for next day delivery).
Lesson number three. I paid a service fee of $22 for the convenience of not having to find, to call, and to order from a local florist near my Mom. I had, I think, reasonable expectations in return for that fee: the flowers would be delivered as promised, on time, in good shape, and that there would be some sort of customer service to support me in the event of a problem. Hey – we’re dealing with gifts for people’s mothers – buyers don’t want anything less than what they expect and these were definitely mixed results at best.
While digital technology has done a lot to kill local businesses (ask any small, local book or music store), there is nothing like the personal service one can get from using old-fashioned technology: a phone and a human. Until and unless companies like FTD figure out how to replicate that experience, I won’t be using them again. You?