Today’s post ties to several recent posts. I have slammed brick and mortar stores for expediting their own demise; I have talked about confusing activity with results in marketing automation systems; and mentioned the raising of the bar by some companies today when it comes to serving their customers. Today we are going to talk about a web-based company that seems to have figured out how to combine the worst of these together in one place.
A few months ago we ordered a Kohler toilet online from efaucets.com. We were diverted there from amazon.com. Since I knew we would have to order the specific toilet we wanted, I did not bother to go to the local stores, I just went to amazon, as I often do. They had the toilet I wanted, (or so I thought); but in actuality, they were just a referral source to efaucets. (I am unclear on what the business arrangement is, but from the diversion point forward, I was dealing directly with efaucets, not amazon.)
The site was easy to use, I found the toilet we wanted and ordered it. Delivery was in 7-10 days, which was great. The toilet did not arrive as scheduled. However, apparently their marketing automation/CRM system triggers an email based on promise date, not actual date. My response to this idiotic email was to ask them why they sent it, given the toilet had not arrived yet, and where the heck was the toilet anyway?
A day or so later I got a reply that the toilet had not been in stock and was on back-order. It would arrive in 4-6 weeks. I asked why on earth they sent the email they sent and why they had not sent a “sorry for the delay email.” Crickets.
After six weeks, still no toilet. I email again. This time the response a day or so later is “call us on Wednesday and we can update status.” Really, I have to call you to get an update on your poor performance?
I called, after 10 minutes on hold, the CSR told me the warehouse had a ship-commit from Kohler for 10 days hence and once it got to the warehouse it would be about a week to me. I checked again two weeks later, and the CSR told me the toilet had arrived and it was being shipped to me, and I would get a shipping notice. I did. It told me to contact the freight company to arrange delivery since it was coming to a private residence. I did. They said, “why are you calling?” I said, “because I was told to call you to arrange home delivery.” They said, “we’ll call you (idiot) when the item gets to our depot and arrange for a delivery date and time.” They did. When the toilet arrived, they attempted to deliver a set of furniture to our house and told my wife there was clearly not enough room in the garage for it all without her moving her car. A conversation ensued, and the toilet was placed in the garage easily without her needing to move her car. Hopefully the people who were expecting the furniture got it too.
I have never heard from efaucets again; would never do business with them again; and btw, they charged my credit card for the toilet on the day I ordered it.
As Tom Peters famously said 30 years ago: “If you raise your level of customer service to mediocre, you can stand out in the crowd.”