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  • The benefits of good customer service

    Sr Gregor comments on the benefits of good customer service, and gives a shout out to UPS and Dynamic Discs

    As recent events in other venues might reflect, it's easy for people to jump on the band wagon and start relating their own tales of woe and misfortune with customer service of one form or another, or for someone to want to jump to the defense of the lowly worker and relate their own tales of customer douchebaggery.

    I've worked on that end of the phone and had to hear all the complaints about products I personally couldn't have given two shits about but for the fact that they provided me with a steady income, so I know well the instinct to want to slap a little wordsmithing down on someone when you're tired and fed up with your day, when factors far beyond your control seem to conspire to make your day suck all the more. That said, no matter how rough it is, you have a job to do, and that doesn't involve feeding your own ego a little.

    On the other hand, when you're the wronged party, when it seems like a faceless corporation is just out to collect your few hard-earned sheckles and rub their hands together gleefully in a very Mr. Burns-esque fashion, it's easy to get fed up or be made to feel powerless. Internet rage is fine and all, I suppose, but it doesn't really get anywhere, and the result is that you end up with little biting comments and buttsore feelings on the whole matter.

    So, my goal here isn't really to comment further on the whole Ocean Marketing thing. I'd rather relate my own recent experience dealing with customer service. A few months ago, I put through an order on a bunch of disc golf discs through Dynamic Discs. They've had a number of cool custom-dye discs that I enjoyed, and they had a special going on for a bulk pack of discs that I figured I'd pick up and use as practice discs - see how they felt and flew, and used as loaners for friends and relatives that decide to join me out on the links from time to time. The order was placed, and like all of my previous orders, I got a tracking number and such from DD.

    At this point, it might be better if I just copied the text of my email to UPS.
    to:
    customer.service@ups.com
    subject:
    Second shipment lost



    As of today, UPS has apparently delivered packages I was to receive somewhere else a second time. On Sept 23, your web system indicated that a $80 package was delivered to my front door (tracking number). Three people had been home at the time, and none of us ever spoke to a UPS delivery person, nor did anyone knock on our door. I filed a claim through your website, and subsequently spoke to someone about a week later, but nothing ever came of it, and to this day, I have no idea what the status of my claim is. I contacted the shipper, but they indicated that UPS informed them there was nothing that could be done.

    Of note, on Oct. 13, a second $60 package had apparently been lost as well (tracking number). Hoping for the best, I thought maybe I could give a call to your customer service department so they could contact the driver before they clocked out for the day, maybe figure out where they delivered the package to. Unfortunately, after three minutes of waiting on hold, the call to 1-800-742-5877 simply closed the call. Thinking I might have somehow done something wrong, I called again, and got the same response. I figured, what the heck, third time's the charm, and again, after three minutes of waiting, dropped call.

    Alrighty, I said to myself, maybe there's something wrong with the phone system on their end. So, I logged into your website and tried to start up a live chat around 3pm PT. I was #8 in the queue, so I figured I'd let it cycle through. 7 in queue, 3 in queue, looking good.... #1 in queue, yay! Then, the chat session logged itself as "Cancelled - Sorry, there are no chat agents available at this time, please try again later." What the bloody heckfire? What was up with having a queue, then? Why not just have me wait until there was one?

    Being a curious sort, I decided to click the "Proof of Delivery" link. I was hoping for maybe a picture of your delivery person in crazy camouflage sneaking up to my door with a thumbs up as they laid it down on the doorstep. Well, not really. I was hoping for a picture of them dropping it off at someone else's house so that I could figure out where they actually dropped it off, but you have to admit, the camouflage thing would be neat. Anyways, no, no, that's not what I got. Instead, I get a text screen that basically said the same thing the main screen said: "Delivered to front door". Really? Saying the same thing twice constitutes proof of delivery? Couldn't the "proof" have at least been a video of someone saying "Cross my heart and hope to fly."?

    Fortunately, a fourth call to your customer service line actually got through, and I spoke to a lovely woman who contacted the local distribution center, who then called the driver. According to the driver, he insisted that he dropped it off, under the bench, next to my Jeep. Three problems:
    1 - I work from home, and my office window faces my front door. I never saw said driver.
    2 - I don't own a Jeep, I own a Forester. I guess maybe those could be mistaken for one another, though.
    3 - We have no bench in the front of our house. Nor either side nor the back of the house, for that matter.

    Eventually, the driver tracked down where he'd dropped off our package and brought it by the house, with an apology, and indicated once again, with a vague sort of wave, that he'd delivered it to "the house with the Jeep". No idea who that is, but at least we got this package. Still no sign of the one from September though. What kind of parcel service would use the motto "We'll deliver it right to your door, give or take a few houses"?

    Now, there might be an instinct to treat this as a big ole' bag of whining. So, I have a few suggestions that I hope someone takes to heart.

    1 - allow recipients to file lost package claims. While I understand the opinion of "the shipper is the one who paid us, so we answer to them", as a buyer, those costs are passed on, either through inclusion in the purchase price or by direct charge added to my purchase price, to me. Often, as the purchaser, the method of delivery is even in my hands to choose. Ergo, I am the one who is purchasing your service, by mutual agreement with the seller. To disallow me to file the claim, or to have to go through the seller to do so, is needless hassle that only increases my dissatisfaction with your service.
    2 - allow claims to be filed via the online form on the same day. I agree it would be preferable to resolve the issue by phone first - quicker, easier, more personable. Chat would be a great fallback. But if neither option seems viable, there is no distinct reason that the claim shouldn't be allowed to be filed that same day. Having to call in four times in order to get any contact is beyond reasonable expectation. Maybe you just need to include some "It would better/faster/stronger if you did this by phone" language, but the communication path needs to be permitted.
    3 - even better, instead of funneling all calls through one call center, have an automated system direct the call to the local distribution center. One less step in the crazy game of telephone means one less point for miscommunication (or lost communication) to occur.
    4 - Get rid of "proof of delivery" if you're just going to say "No, really, we did, promise". I get that if there were a signature required, you might include that in the pop-up, but setting up a conditional for only signatures shouldn't be too hard.
    5 - I realize it's been a month since my first package was lost (remember that one? See first paragraph.). There's probably no hope for it at this point. Can I at least have my money back? Or, can the shipper be reimbursed for you losing the product so that they can refund my money?

    At this point, I'm not just wary of using your service, I'm downright skittish. For the past couple of days, I've been asking people to ship things to me by FedEx or USPS and specifically avoid your service. Sure, I expect my minor momentary boycott isn't even a blip in the grand scheme of things. But it's all I've got.
    My goal was to convey my frustration without being offensive. Many people jump to the demanding, overbearing cockpunch ("YOU FLAMING SONS OF MOTHERLESS GOATS BEST GIMME!"), some people go the whiney hyperbolic ("I'm complaining to the BBB/FCC/RCC/ASPCA"), I needed to hit a narrow bandwidth somewhere between the two. Part of what helped, I think, was defraying some of the frustration with near-witty commentary, but likely the bigger part was having very specific suggestions on how they could have prevented my frustrations (you know, beyond the "losing my stuff" step). And I confirmed with them that while I do get some amount of say in which service I use, their pretty universal and I'd likely end up using their service again before too long.

    Anyways, it seemed to have worked. Within 24 hours, I received a call from the central customer service center apologizing for the experience, and checking out all of the details. Then, I got a call from the local distro center apologizing. Then an in-person visit from our regular driver for the route, and another visit a day later from their "problem resolution" person. I signed a thing confirming that the package hadn't been delivered, and a promise to follow up on the whole deal.

    Now, you might wonder why I didn't bug Dynamic Discs to handle all this for me. I did, for a bit. In general, I get the impression that they're a small company of maybe a dozen people, if that - a small mom-and-pop type outfit, which, to be honest, I'm less likely to be angsty with. They had bugged UPS as well, and received a pretty straight-forward "Hey, we delivered it, nothing we can do" kind of line. To their credit, when the first order failed to come through, they gave me half off on my second order even though ultimately they weren't responsible for the loss.

    Anyways, UPS finally got all their T's dotted and their eyes crossed, and refunded to money to Dynamic Discs. And Dynamic Discs, in turn, gave me the choice of having a check cut back to me, or giving me a credit for the full amount on a future order. But they were cool, kept me in the loop along the whole way. And they still put out good products in their custom-dye work, so they definitely are keeping me as a customer, so a credit is AOK with me.

    Now, had all this gone horribly wrong, I'd have just asked for a check and been done with it, never using them again. But they were cool. And, after the many hoops I went though, UPS was ultimately cool with how they handled it all. Sure, it took a while, and the hoops I had to jump through to actually reach someone were a pain, but once I did reach someone, they took it all in stride and fixed the primary issue. I haven't had reason to try their customer service contacts again yet, so I can't say as of yet if everything has been resolved, but I feel like they actually cared enough about my business that I'm willing to give them another shot.

    And that's what good customer service gets you - a consistent customer, and, in this case, someone willing to use his soapbox (small though it may be) for a moment to say "Hey, you did right by me. Thanks." I'm happy. Can't you tell?

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Zem's Avatar
      Zem -
      Well, that picture at the end absolutely made this post. I can't say I've ever had a customer service issue with a delivery company. Nah, with me, it's petty woes of lazy teen to twenty-somethings in fast food who think that just because they make minimum wage, they have the right to forget the fucking sauce.Seriously, Crowley has one of the worst Burger Kings in the country, in terms of service. Everything's alright when there's light out and plenty of customers are showing up, but when the sun sets (or usually around 5:45pm in the summer time) service drops faster that a photon in a black hole. Seriously, it's like they send everyone but their least competent people home for some kind of ritual circle jerk with the explicit purpose of casting a "Shit, let's be fuckups" spell on the remaining employees.The service slows to a crawl so much that 5 people in the drive-through becomes some kind of high-capacity workload that completely cripples their ability to push out these orders in a slow and incorrect fashion. Instead, they seem to lock up for a good 10-25 minutes, attempting to 1) Get the order of the guy at the window out to him, 2) prepare the next two drivers' orders, while simultaneously 3) telling whoever's at the intercom to wait because they're busy, they'll be there in a minute.Then, when you finally get your order out, you can fully expect to have at least two things wrong, usually a request for no ice comes with ice, or a burger that normally comes with bacon will have a half sq. in. for bacon on it. In fact, if you don't find anything wrong at first glance, be careful, there's probably something much worse, and much more subtle that they did wrong, such as not wash their hands after handling the chicken, or worse, their acne ridden asses.All in all, the only thing we could do was call and complain to a manager when they fucked up, or just not go. We eventually did the second one. That shit's not good for you.