How Many E-Commerce/Call Center Mistakes Can You Find In This Column?
By Matt Pillar, editor in chief
68 minutes. That’s how long the display on my phone said I was on the line with a major software company as I tried – unsuccessfully and for the second time – to upgrade a software package I had purchased in the spring.
It began as a deal I couldn’t pass up. Back in April I was in need of said upgrade, knowing well that the release of the next version would be soon on its heels. When I arrived at the software company’s e-commerce site, I was thrilled to find that if I purchased quickly, I ‘d have a brief window of opportunity to upgrade to the next version for free when it was made available a month or so later. So I bought.
Then, one day in the middle of May, I received an e-mail offer from the software company with a promotion code that I could redeem for my free upgrade. I had until sometime in August to redeem, and I was busy, so I shelved it. Had there been a direct link to the upgrade offer page in the e-mail, I would have gone there instantly.
Sometime in mid July, I found it convenient to let my desktop sit idle for a while to accept the large download. I logged in, navigated a labyrinth of a Web site and found the upgrade offer. When asked for it at the checkout page, I punched in my promo code. Just as promptly as I was prompted, an error message popped up. My promo code wasn’t valid. Checked it; still not valid. Rechecked it (dad always said, measure twice, cut once); same code, still not valid. The retailer had issued a promotion code that simply didn’t work.
So, I called customer service. I was told by an automated voice that I’d have a wait time if eight minutes. The same automated voice asked if I’d like them to call me back rather then hold. I’m old-school, so I held. The polite human representative who answered the call roughly eight minutes later heard me out, but was all too eager to tell me I’d called the wrong number. I’d need to dial the sales line, he said, so he gave me another 800-number.
When a customer dials an 800 number associated with your brand, your philosophy should be, “delight starts now.” If that customer needs to speak to a different department, your call center rep should be equipped to ask them to hold for a minute while he patches the customer through.
I dialed the new number and heard the exact same menu options I’d heard when I dialed the first time. I picked a new option and spoke with a pleasant woman who, after hearing my plight, promised to send me an e-mail with a new promo code.
On August 1, I received said e-mail. It offered a new promo code and specific instructions on how to redeem it. Log in, navigate a labyrinth of a Web site, find the appropriate upgrade offer, place the order, and when prompted, punch in the promo code. Easy enough, I had done this before. But, there was no direct link to the upgrade and I was busy so I shelved it.
On the afternoon of August 14 I decided to download the upgrade. After some tail-chasing on the retailer’s Bermuda Triangle-like site, I arrived at the checkout page. I punched in my promo code. Just as promptly as I was prompted, an error message popped up. My promo code wasn’t valid. Checked it; still not valid. Rechecked it (dad always said, measure twice, cut once); same code, still not valid. Is this sounding like déjà vu to you, too?
I decided to try the live chat option that kept popping up on my screen. I described the situation. The ghost chatter on the other side of Cyberspace told me all to quickly that this problem was out of his realm.
So, I made another call, which brings me back to those 68 minutes. That’s how long it took the call center representative to work through my issue. Turns out, the replacement promo code was only valid until August 7. Too bad the e-mail that contained it said nothing of a shelf life, no indication the thing would spoil after seven days.
By minute 65 or so, after many dead-silent, minutes-long holds and just as many thanks for my patience, the representative I spoke with had secured permission to send me the software upgrade. No promo code, just a nice, simple, direct link to the download. Within 48 hours.
Today, I’m still waiting, still busy, and afraid to dial that 800 number again.
Which leads me back to the question, how many customer service mishaps and e-commerce/call center disconnects can you count in this column?