Aliveatwork's Blog

Do You Really Hear Your Customers?

Below is an actual transcript of a chat between between myself and a customer representative from a large online retailer (the name was changed because this isn’t about bashing a company it’s about learning from someone else’s mistakes).

The issue was that I needed  a projector that ordered for a presentation and there was a discrepancy between the ship date on my initial order and the actual ship date I received in a follow up email which stated that my order was on hold pending an examination by their Address Verification Team along with an apology for the delay!

So I asked for expedited shipping (at the expense of the retailer) and was offered a certificate for more money than the additional cost of the expedited shipping … and of course multiple apologies … and a response “we can’t change an order once it is placed” … here’s the chat:

Susie: Thank you for contacting Live Chat Support. How may I help you?

Joe Contrera: I placed this order on 12/31/2010 it is now 1/3/2011 and you are just processing it? What is the problem???????

Susie: Sorry to hear about that.

Susie: Let me look up your order real quick.

Susie: Please wait one moment.

Susie: Thank you for your patience…

Susie: Joe, your order is in the fulfillment process and is expected to ship on 01/04/11.

Joe: Like I said the order was placed on 12/31 it says ships within 1 business day I understand the holiday but tomorrow is not January 2nd it’s the 4th. I paid for extra shipping, I ordered it from even though you weren’t the least expensive but because you have a great reputation. I need the projector … how would you like to resolve this issue?

Susie: I’m sorry for the delay. I’ll be right with you.

Susie: I apologize for the delay.  I am still looking into this for you.  One moment please.

Susie: Thank you for your patience…

Susie: I apologize for the inconvenienced.

Susie: Joe, your order was placed on 12/31/10

Susie: however we do not process orders during week ends and holidays.

Susie: You order started to process today 01/03/11.

Joe: Susie, why didn’t it say that when I ordered it instead of shipping in one day? What I would like is that you upgrade to the next level of shipping, however I would like for you guys to pick up the difference it’s probably 10 bucks or so I think that is fair … don’t you?

Susie: Thank you for waiting. I’ll be with you in just a moment.

Susie: I apologize for the delay.  I am still looking into this for you.  One moment please.

Susie: I understand where you are coming form sir. Unfortunately we will not be able to upgrade the shipping.

Susie: But

Susie: due to the inconvenienced you have experinced,

Susie: I will give you a $20 gift certificate

Susie: which you can use on your

Susie: next purchase to

Susie: This will be sent to your email.

Susie: Once again I apologize for the inconvenience.

Susie: I have not received a message from you. Do you wish to continue the chat session?

Joe: Susie I appreciate the certificate, it doesn’t make sense to me that you would give me more money than it costs to upgrade the shipping when I said I needed the projector? I appreciate it, I also appreciate the apologies, and yet I still didn’t get what I asked for …

Susie: The reason we cannot upgrade the shipping is because we cannot modify an order once it is placed.

Susie: I really apologize sir.

Joe: Thank you and have a nice day …

Susie: It was a pleasure chatting with you today.  Good-bye.


1. Do you really listen to what your customer NEEDS?

2. When your customer has a need and speaks it, do you offer a solution that satisfies THEIR NEED need or do you give them something that satisfies YOUR’S?

3. Do you apologize time and time again, keep your customer waiting, and in the end leave them dissatisfied?

In the end, I will borrow a projector from a colleague for my presentation, I will complete their survey and tell them how dissatisfied I was with my experience and … they will probably send me another gift certificate … that I will never use because I won’t do business with them again.

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