The importance of customer care ‘after the click’

I’ve been in the market for a netbook – a mini laptop with broadband internet connection. I looked around online and placed an order with one of the mobile operators.

The process was very straight forward and painless.

I chose the laptop, decided on the contract plan and placed the order. Bosh!

So far so good.

Some time later I received an email confirming the purchase of my “mobile”. As the company is a mobile phone operator, I did not mind too much that they seem unable to differentiate between a laptop with modem and a mobile phone. It was a standard email after all!

Later on that afternoon I received a further email letting me know that my mobile (again!) had been sent and that it would be delivered by courier on Saturday 11th. The email referred to a courier tracking number, but crucially that information was missing.

Saturday came and I waited at home all morning – no delivery.

Monday – Bank Holiday

Tuesday – still nothing, so I decided to call their customer services department to find out what was going on. This is where the real trouble started –  not a single contact number on their website anywhere!

It took me an age to find an instant messenger type service for people who had a query before their purchase. I fired off a message asking for a phone number for customer services, which I was given. However, this number turned out to be wrong.

I sent another message and was given another number – this one turned out to be correct. I spoke to someone who took all my details regarding the non delivery and promised to get back to me.

Wednesday the usb modem arrives – no sign of the actual netbook

I’m a bit fed up now so today I call the head office – having obtained the number from 118 500.

I wanted to talk to their customer relations director whose name was on the letter that accompanied the modem. The receptionist kindly told me that “he does not take customer calls” before putting me through to customer services who I had spoken to on Tuesday.

I then noticed a different number on the receipt which I called and after a couple of minutes I got my answer! Laptops are delivered two days after the modem. Why, I don’t know, but it would have been nice to have known that at the outset.

I am now disgruntled and unimpressed and I haven’t even received the whole product yet!

The lessons here for any online retailer are key.

You’ve probably thought a lot about how a visitor navigates around your site and what their purchasing experience is like. You’ve worked hard to make it as easy and obvious as possible. You’ve instilled a sense of trust by clearly showing payment options and the fact that the site is secure, but are you giving enough thought to what happens after the final click.

Based on my experience this week, here are my top five things to think about:

1. Make it easy for customers to be able to talk to you. Your phone number should be clearly displayed not only on your website but also included in any email correspondence.

2. When you send out confirmation emails, make them personal and make sure you refer to the actual product the person bought. Also do include a tracking number if you refer to one!

3. Make it clear exactly what is going to happen and when, and stick to it. If you cannot stick to the promise you made, let the customer know in advance.

4. Send a follow up email after delivery to check that everything is okay and your customer is happy.

5.  Invite feedback. It’s the only way you’re going to improve.

And if you don’t? Your unhappy customer may write a blog post about it. However, they might not be quite so nice not to include your name!

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