My mother loved to crochet. I grew up in a house with colorful curtains, bed sheets, and table centerpieces – all made of crochet. I remember marveling at the handiwork, thinking she must have been a magician to whip up such creations with just a hook and some yarn.
In grade school, we were made to learn crochet for home economics class. After grade school, I totally forgot about it.
In May of this year, for some reason I can no longer remember, I decided I wanted to do some crocheting. I sourced my materials mostly from online sellers because there was nowhere to buy any crochet yarns around here. Since then, at least one or two shipments arrived at my place every month, all without delay.
Until shipment #11.
A tale of two shipping partners
The shipping company (SC) could only deliver packages within the metropolitan area. For provincial deliveries, they had partners.
For shipment #11, they decided to partner with a different courier (P#2), not the one that regularly delivered my supplies (P#1). And much to my chagrin, even after one week later, my yarns were still sitting the days away within P#2’s premises – according to the package’s tracking number.
I sent SC an email, and I was told several hours later that P#2 would drop by my house that day to deliver the package. The problem was they couldn’t say what time, so they requested that I be on the lookout the whole day – yes, the whole [insert colorful word here] day!
But the funny thing was I honestly couldn’t tell if they actually arrived that day. When I checked the tracking number again the night of the following day, the status went from “OUT FOR DELIVERY” to “UNDELIVERED – RESIDENCE CLOSED.” The time stamp was 1445 but it didn’t indicate which day they came by my house.
It was disappointing, to say the least.
In the case of P#1, whenever the delivery guy arrived with my residence closed, he made sure to knock until somebody opened the door. There had not been a day when this courier came and nobody was home. I work from home, you see. Even if I do work outside sometimes, I wouldn’t do so on a day I expect a delivery to arrive.
I called P#2’s office. After a few failed attempts, someone picked up. I told them about my package and asked whether or not the delivery person they sent to my place knocked when he saw that my house’s front door was shut closed. Expecting them to exhaust all possibilities to reach me before leaving wasn’t too much to ask, was it? They were already there standing in front of my house!
The woman on the other end said she didn’t know.
I asked again if they attempted to call me, or at least send me a text message, via my mobile phone. They had my number, anyway. Again, she didn’t know and profusely apologized. She even added that their delivery personnel was new to the job.
A shipment that was more than a week delayed, a new guy on the job, contact information they asked for but wouldn’t use when needed – just great.
Because I was fuming mad at the injustice of it all, I did what a disgruntled customer would do on social media. I cautioned my friends to stay away from SC and P#2 and recommended that they used P#1 for their shipping needs instead.
I sent SC another email. I got no reply until several days later – when the status of my shipment went from “UNDELIVERED” to “DELIVERED.”
According to the email representative:
“Your shipment has been delivered on 29 September. Please see details below for your reference:
[…] Hope that this incident will not affect our business relations …”
But the truth was the package was never delivered. Because I couldn’t stand stressing over it any longer, I arranged to pick it up at P#2’s office personally, despite me paying for a door-to-door delivery service that was supposed to take anywhere from just one to three days.
Because the rep’s message came with a request to rate their support system, I willingly obliged and gave them a failing mark. The service was a complete letdown, P#2 failed to report the truth (“picked up by recipient” versus “delivered”), and they couldn’t even get my name right. (See the screenshot above.)
About the incident not affecting our business relations? Come on, you can’t royally screw things up and expect everything to stay fine and dandy.
Not a story without a lesson
There are at least three customer service lessons to be learned from this unfortunate experience of mine.
#1. If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.
As to why SC decided to use P#2 instead of P#1, your guess is as good as mine.
From day one, P#1 has consistently demonstrated outstanding customer service. The courier, who I eventually made friends with, gave me his personal mobile number, aside from the field office’s number, in case I needed to make any follow-ups regarding a shipment.
When shipment #11 failed to arrive within the two to three days it usually took P#1 to deliver my supplies, I sent the courier a series of messages. He promised to look into it right away. He couldn’t find the package in question despite all the tracking numbers I sent him for reference. It was only then that I realized SC had switched partners.
Talk about barking up the wrong tree. Or inconveniencing somebody for something he wasn’t responsible for. Amid all this, my courier friend still went above and beyond the call of duty.
#2. Customer experience impacts customer loyalty.
P#2 is a relatively big brand where I live. I have no prior experience with it, and given this woeful customer experience, I will tell you this: I will only use them if no other courier service is available.
As for SC, I’m seriously having second thoughts about them, and I’m considering asking the online sellers I do business with to directly use P#1 when sending my supplies. This way, they have control over who delivers my packages.
But on second thought, P#1 has done a helluva good job for SC in the past, and multiple times at that. So I’ll probably give them another chance, with the caveat that if they screw things up again by partnering with P#2 or some other courier with a similar brand of awful customer service, we’re done for good.
#3. Customer service is the new marketing.
This is not a review but a recount of a customer service nightmare I hope would never happen again. If this were a review, I would have unapologetically divulged who the players in this story are. I’m hopeful that SC will act on the issues I raised in my emails, so I’ll give them time.
Word of mouth is powerful marketing. There’s also the positive impact of customer trust in consumer relationships. And with social media amplifying the customer’s voice many times over, it makes sense for brands to ensure they deliver the best possible customer experience every single time.
According to a 2013 Zendesk-sponsored survey, bad customer service interactions are likely to get shared than good ones – 95% and 87%, respectively. Said differently, that’s one in a total of 20 customers that will choose to stay silent about a bad customer experience. The remaining 19 will talk about it one way or another.
Pretty hefty, eh?