My wife and I live in Manhattan and delivery turnaround time has now become the new service differentiator. Stores are starting to offer to deliver your merchandise, no matter what it is, to your home within hours. That’s especially advantageous in NYC, where most customers need to jump in a cab if they want to carry an especially large item back to their apartment.
In the world of ecommerce, besides Amazon, companies like eBay, Google, and WalMart have moved towards same day delivery in selected markets. However, I’m still amazed at how brick and mortar stores provide great service when you purchase your items that require delivery, and then turn over the entire delivery experience to another department or third party that can’t even spell service correctly. It’s obvious to me that delivery is an integral part of the customer experience, but many businesses fail to replicate the service in the store with the subsequent delivery process.
Shortly before Christmas, my wife and I were sent an email by our sales person, who sold us a wall unit in October. He notified us that our piece was in. He had told us it would take 12 or 13 weeks and his email confirmed that his estimated delivery date was correct. We were so happy to have the unit installed before the New Year. That’s when our delight turned to disappointment. Here’s what happened next:
Our sales person told us to contact the delivery department to tell them that our unit was in and to arrange a convenient delivery date. We then left a message for one of the customer service representatives he mentioned in his email, and naturally expected a return call.
After 3 hours, we called again and finally reached Ann. She had no knowledge of our order and it took her several repeated tries to find it even after we had given her our name and telephone number, the order number, the sales person’s name, etc. She finally told us that the unit would be installed on the 28th of December, which made us very happy.
Two hours later we received a call back from Ann that she didn’t realize that our furniture required a different team of delivery personnel and that they were not available on the 28th, so she would need to reschedule. We were disappointed, and did not understand why she didn’t know that during our first conversation.
We waited one week and never heard back. It was the week between Christmas and New Year’s and we assumed that was the reason for the delay. We then reached out to our sales person who sent the delivery department an email that we were in delivery limbo (my term).
After two days and no call back, we proceeded to reach out again to the customer service department and left another message. After 4 hours, we once again placed a call and did reach our assigned representative, who acted as if she had no idea who we were. During the conversation she did find the paperwork and set up two delivery dates; the first would be to deliver the unit and the second to assemble it.
When the delivery department called to tell us the four hour delivery window, I asked them what tasks would be preformed on the first day. I was then told they don’t know. The gentleman said they will definitely deliver the unit, but was not sure how much time they would have to complete all of the tasks.
The unit was delivered and partially assembled on the first day and we were told to expect them back in two days to complete the final installation. We love the piece, but can’t believe how disconnected the sales department’s service standards are from the delivery process.
If delivery time is the next service differentiator in this highly global and commoditized society, many companies still need to get their acts together to make deliveries in a normal and expected timeframe, and provide communication along the way that makes the customer feel welcomed, important and their business appreciated. The delivery is probably the most important part of the process, leaving a lasting impression that either enhances or damages the initial excitement of ultimately finding that perfect piece for your home.