Online stores still need to give service.
Is service important for an online store?
Zappos think so, Amazon think so but Kalahari.net 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 Kalahari.net story:
- December 3 – order two books from Kalahari.net
- December 16 – books arrive at Kalahari.net order is completed, money leaves credit card.
- December 18 – parcel completes long journey from where ever its packed to the courier. ready for 24hr delivery (although 48hrs of the 24hrs already expired.)
- December 22 call Kalahari – long distance land line number (not toll free) hang up after 12 minutes, repeat 3 times leave message on system, send email from site no response.
- Finally get through to Kalahari reception, who put me through to agent, says that he will follow up and ensure delivery, admits that they are inundated with calls and just cant handle them
- Just before close of business (4:45pm December 22) contact Kalahari as no one has resolved query. Speak to new call center agent, she calls me back and guarantees delivery by end of today.
- December 22 @ 7:30pm – still no delivery.
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 a parcel takes longer to get down the hall between packaging and dispatch than it takes to get from the USA to SA that’s not living it.
- When a parcel takes from 18/12 to 22/12 to not yet arrive that’s not living it.
- To have a call center running only on long distance office hour phone rates (no shared call, no toll free) and forcing the customer into an expensive queue that’s not living it.
- To have an understaffed call center, with a desperate agent who says he has at least 50 calls waiting thats not living it.
When Amazon.com paid $1.2 Billion for Zappos they did it for the culture, for the service attitude of the entire company. Kalahari.net 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 loot.co.za 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 Amazon.com 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: Kalahari.net 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 – Kalahari.net – 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.)
In: Customer Service · Tagged with: Amazon.com, Customer Service, Kalahari.net, service, Zappos.com