Online stores still need to give service.

Is service important for an online store?

Zappos think so, Amazon think so but don’t. Unfortunately it is the massive difference in service levels I have concurrently received from Zappos and Kalahari that has brought this home to me.

The Zappos story is in a previous post. suffice it to say that I sent the CEO a request for a book (his office is in USA) on a Thursday afternoon, by the following Tuesday first thing I had the book and had had personal and inspiring contact with four Zappos people.

The story:

Zappos understands that customer service is a culture. To be successful every person in the company has to live it. Its not something you can pass over to a junior call center agent.

When paid $1.2 Billion for Zappos they did it for the culture, for the service  attitude of the entire  company. clearly don’t have the attitude so Amazon are not going to buy them but it also leaves the market wide open for an opposing online store in South Africa, maybe and possibly even exclusive books do you think that they could learn?

Maybe its just a dream, maybe I should just forget dealing with the local incompetence and stay with till further notice.

Photo credit Martin Heigan from Flickr under a CC license.

UPDATE: The parcel arrived via FEDEx at 20:20 – but delivered by an under equipped driver whom I had to talk in for 10 minutes by cell phone, he didn’t have a GPS nor a map and had been driving around furiously hoping to chance onto the street address.

FURTHER UPDATE: have a presence on twitter but they aren’t listening – see a screenshot from my tweetdeck. Ok I know people must take holidays but this is the busy time and they need to be able to react in fact its fundamental to new marketing that you do.

FURTHER UPDATE: My second order placed on December 12, one of the books has been removed and the order canceled on December 23, out of stock. Obvious comment: That took a while & there is no other supplier?

Amazon has it in stock Crush it

@kalaharinet has contacted me.

Final comment: Said enough about this – – thinks are really not well with you guys – management issue not a support staff issue.

OK then another final comment: So the second parcel was dispatched 2 working days ago. Not arrived yet.

I created a col on tweetdeck to follow @kalaharinet – only complaints (except @jenty who won a prize.)

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Posted on December 22, 2009 at 7:00 pm by Walter Pike · Permalink
In: Customer Service · Tagged with: , , , ,
  • naeem

    even harder juggling 2 physical stores & an online store but yes. To say customer service important is an understatement!

    Problem with local stores (and yes we ourselves sometimes are guilty of it) is shifting the blame. Nobody wants to step up and spend a few minutes extra to resolve an issue. Always a case of passing it onto another department.

    Zappos have motivated, energetic and go-getter type staff/team. Locally, most call centers/online support have some minimum wage clockwatcher who cant wait to get his/her salary and bust it partying.

    What they dont understand. YES you will stuff up, yes mistakes will happen and Zappos must have their fair share of customer issues. dealmaker is how you deal with the problem.
    (heres a recent one from our side of the world:…) and like clockwork, if you address and resolve the issue. Your customers promote your company further!

    • Walter Pike

      You are correct of course, but if customer service was important to you, you would not hire the bottom feeders in your call center.

      What zappos teaches us is that customer service is a culture a belief.

      What frustrates me is that online businesses – those who should understand the internet and its power – just don't.

      Maybe some of these are “legacy” web 0.1 businesses – who don't actually understand social media.

  • arthurcharlesvanwyk

    I am absolutely anal about customer service.

    When I first came to Durban I had to start at he bottom of the barrel so I worked in the MTN call centre. I don't regret that one bit, becos MTN (unlike these days) itself was an organisation anal about customer service. As a result I learnt tons about CRM.

    So now I only allow myself to be treated sh*tty ONCE. You do not get a second chance, especially not if you are one of many that sell a product or render a service. I was looking at Kalahari's stock and was impressed, but after I had to call them to find out i they received my payment and when my book was arriving.. I think a second purchase is most unlikely..

    In fact.. I'm assuming that there are more people like me who prefer reading books with paper and ink, so I'm researching courier and freight companies to see if I can start a book purchase pool or co-op of sorts.. to get books like 2 days after they launch and not 2 months..