Delivering the goods… @waitrose

Starting a post with an apology  may not be the best way to engage with an audience however I feel that it’s required seeing as this post could be considered a first world gripe considering a) the problem and b) the supplier, but seeing as the service offered has deteriorated, the complaint is valid.

Everyone loves Waitrose! Great staff, ownership model, free coffee and a paper and great food. Yes, you may pay a little more for certain items but they price match with Tesco on essential items. Anyway, after their London delivery agreement with Ocado ended, Waitrose launched a home delivery service. And rather than charging for home delivery like other supermarkets, delivery was free if you spent a minimum of £50. And they’d deliver in hourly slots between 7am and 11pm. Super friendly drivers who were always pleasant and would always make a joke about lugging my groceries up three flights of stairs. What’s not to like? Nothing!

Except, things have changed. They increased the minimum order to £60 (which is fair enough for me but it could be prohibitive for those on tighter budgets) but the major gripe that I (and I presume many more people have) is changing the delivery slot window from one hour to two, and starting deliveries at 9am.

How inconvenient for me I hear you scream! Well, if you previously had your shopping delivered in the 7-8am window on a Saturday, you knew you’d have your shopping, and you breakfast delivered by 8am. And you could get on with your day and your weekend. With the new service window, it’s possible that you won’t receive your groceries until 11am. Which would be fine if it arrived by 11am – the three orders I’ve placed thus far have been late! So, realistically I can’t commit to doing anything on the day until at least noon.

Again, I accept that this may come across as a first world problem but Waitrose previously offered a service that worked and suited and have replaced it with a service that doesn’t.

I appreciate that they have made the changes for various reasons (maybe staffing? Cost?) however they have forgotten the motto that the customer is always right.

Businesses may need to change terms and conditions for various reasons but you’ve got to take your customers with you. If the service isn’t up to scratch, your customers will look elsewhere for your products. And it’ll cost you a lot more trying to win those customers back.

Think about it Waitrose!



Social media integrity

Another day, another corporate social media gaffe. Another individual not associated with the organisation, or another account hacked. And apologies to anyone who was offended.

Really? Do you buy that?

Last night Liverpool probably threw away the Barclays Premier League title by blowing a 3 goal lead away to Crystal Palace. Shortly afterwards, the below Vine appeared on the official Tottenham Hotspur account, apparently mocking Liverpool. 


Naturally this was not the fault of the club who are now looking into security issues with their Vine account, adding that it was not tweeted by anyone affiliated to Tottenham Hotspur. 

TH denial

Whether this is true or not, it is very damaging to Tottenham Hotspur, not just because they have effectively admitted they have security issues, but whomever uploaded this in the first place, is hardly in a position to mock in the first place. 

When it comes to crisis management in social media, being honest and displaying integrity is the key to success. It may be true that the Vine account was hacked but it seems too well timed and planned to have been the work of a rogue hacker. I would presume that Spurs have a robust social media policy, strategy and reporting in place, which will surely be able to detect the exact time and ip address of the ‘poster’, which should confirm that the apparent hack was external. If this is not the case, and there is no further statement, and possibly even a restructure of the social media team, then questions will need to be asked of Tottenham Hotspur themselves.

If you do not post with honesty and integrity, and admit mistakes, you leave your brand exposed and lose a lot of trust and confidence within your market place. Is it worth the risk? 


Customer service…

Hands up if you live a busy life? Of course you do. We all do! Our time is precious. Whether it’s personal or professional; sometimes we feel that there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Now, hands up if you’ve ever bought anything online and arrived home to find a card informing you that your order is sitting in the local post office collection depot. Or worse… an industrial estate in Acton. Depending on the size of your item you then either go and collect it, or arrange for it to be redelivered at a time convenient to you. But more often than not, you’ll find you have to pay a premium to have it delivered at some time outside of working hours. Quite simply, convenience costs.

So, unless you are prepared to pay  to have your item delivered on a Saturday morning, you have to take time off work – i.e. eating into your precious holiday time. But that could be minimised if the company that are delivering your package, use a tech savvy carrier that enables to you either specify the time of delivery to within an hour or track the delivery of your package. 

So, yesterday, I was due to have four radiators delivered by Fedex. I made sure I was home for the whole day as I wasn’t prepared to either have the radiators left outside the flat, or taken away for redelivery. After completing my order, I was offered a delivery date of Monday, and informed that I’d be able to log into the customer tracking system to track the progress of my order from dispatch to delivery. ‘Perfect!’ I thought. I can log into my account on the day, find out the progress of the delivery and be able to structure my day accordingly. However, when I logged into my account, around, I was informed that the radiators had left the depot, however I could expect delivery at some point before 5.30pm. Handy! I googled the address of the depot and discovered that it was around 5 miles from home. So, I picked up the phone and asked the helpful receptionist if they could give me any more information regarding my delivery. Unfortunately they could not. I’d just have to sit and wait until the delivery arrived.

In the end, I wasn’t waiting for the whole day as the delivery turned up shortly after noon. But that’s not the point. As a customer I felt utterly powerless and trapped.

In a digital age, this is appalling customer service.

In a way, I could understand were we talking about a small delivery firm. But we’re talking about Fedex – a firm with an astronomical marketing budget. Who track planes, trains and vans, to ensure that they know where their deliveries are. So, why can’t they give that information to customers? Now, I appreciate that there may be security issues of say, being able to see the exact location of the Fedex delivery van, however, as a customer I’d be satisfied if the tracker could tell me how far away the van was, and how many deliveries had to be made before the van reached me. Maybe not ideal to know that there are 25 deliveries before you and you won’t see your order for a few hours, but at least you’d know, rather than spending the day kicking your heels. If you buy your shopping online, you don’t sit around for the day, waiting for it to arrive. No,  you can specify hour time slots, and if there’s any delay, the driver will call you. Is it beyond Fedex to offer a service like this? 

Ultimately, the online tracker, or the app offered by Fedex may look great but they fail to solve the one problem that every customer wants to know… when will my package arrive?

And the winner of the dumbest password reset award 2013 is…


I decided to log into my BT account earlier today to check on a slight discrepancy on my bill however as I rarely log into my BT account I couldn’t remember the password for my account. I knew my username as it’s my BT email log in so I was able to go through the password reset process where I had to answer a random security question. This time it was place of birth. Success! I remembered where I was born. And ‘Congratulations’ say BT. ‘Your password reset instructions have been emailed to your BT account’.

Hang on…

They’ve sent my password to the account that I can’t access, which is why I was going through the password reset process in the first place? This is, without doubt, the dumbest password reset ever! Why not send a text message? Or a voice message to my landline? Or a tweet? I don’t really care how you do it but surely it’s not that difficult to figure out another way to give a customer their password? What actually baffles me more is that this flaw hasn’t been spotted already. I mean BT, they’re pretty big. Millions of customers etc. And I’m sure there are a fair few who fall into the category of ‘enraged of Billericay’ or ‘disgruntled of Dudley’ who complain about pretty much everything that’s wrong with the world. Why haven’t they noticed this fatal flaw and gone all Mike Skinner* over BT?

I’m going to write to BT right now. And I’m going to sign it off as ‘apathetic of North London’.

*BT’s social media response policy was effectively formed on the hop one night, when Mike Skinner was having problems with his BT Vision and was tweeting his grievance to his many followers, who responded and re-tweeted as the Twitterverse inevitably does. Cue much panic and meltdown in the BT engine room however they were able to get hold of Mr Skinner, rectify the problem as fast as possible and subsequently were praised to the heavens by one satisfied customer. 

Responsive social media

I’m feeling a tad guilty about this blog already. This is not a blog about a large company failing to use social media wisely, or me trying to to get some information to fulfil an order. That said however… there’s a valuable lesson to be had here. Last night I went to see the excellent Roddy Woomble (cheesy Scottish music according to Time Out. Clearly they’ve heard him) at The Borderline. I wasn’t getting a great reception on my phone so when the show ended I received a few messages that had obviously piled up over the night. Mostly standard stuff however one jumped out at me:

Now, I’m a busy guy. Visit to where? I’ve been pretty busy this past week and I’ve checked in at a few places, visited a few places, ate in a few restaurants and drank in a few bars. Was this referring to the gig I was at or to the restaurant that I had dinner in. Intrigue piqued, I did a little bit more digging, logging into Twitter itself to see if I could find out what this referred to.

Ah, so it’s in response to my check in at the Serpentine Bar & Kitchen on Wednesday. Had a lovely evening, sitting in Hyde Park with a pitcher of Pimms with a friend. A rather pleasant evening I have to say but if I’m honest, when I saw what the message was in response to, I struggled to remember what night we had been there. Now, as mentioned above, I don’t want to get on this guy’s back. It’s great that he responded. He can now work on developing a relationship with me and any others who have checked in over the past week or so.

But there are lessons here:

  • Respond in a timely manner. I should have received a response on Wednesday night/ Thursday morning.
  • Add a bit of context. Mention the venue in your message, e.g. ‘Did you enjoy your visit to the Serpentine Bar & Kitchen?’
  • Encourage people to follow you. ‘Why not follow me to receive an offer on your next visit?’
  • Spread the word. Ask for a Re-tweet and offer a prize of free pitcher of Pimms, drawn from the Re-tweets. The more RT’s, the better chance of winning.

Ultimately, when it comes down to it, just have a conversation with customers and prospects. They’ll appreciate it!

Boys and girls, this blog is going to take a holiday for the following week, mainly because the author is going to take a holiday for the following week. See you in June!

Twitter as customer service… part 2

One of the first blogs I wrote was about my experience with BT, using Twitter as a customer service. I won’t regurgitate that blog however it you want to read it, click here.

It was interesting dealing with BT via Twitter as I had an almost seamless process from response through to resolution. It’s not a channel that I would immediately go to to resolve an issue however it demonstrates how important it is for organisations to monitor their brand across social media in order to react to issues before they mushroom.

Well, 2 weeks ago I ordered a case of Brewdog online. The money left my account, quick as you like however after a week and no beer, I dropped Brewdog an email for an update on my order. Naturally I received a response citing stock problems for the delay however it would be dispatched soon. Fine I thought, and later that day I received an email confirming that my order had been dispatched. Excellent! Not long to wait until craft beer goodness.

Now, whenever I order wine from Naked Wines, NW’s delivery guy gains access to my building and leaves my wine outside my door (I live on the top floor of the building and I find it highly unlikely that anyone will ever venture there – touch wood). When I got home on Monday, I expected to see a case of beer sitting on my doorstep however nothing was there. Once I opened the door, I noticed a ‘you weren’t home’ note from UK Mail couriers with a consignment number and a URL to arrange redelivery. So, I logged on to their site and found some sort of relic from the 70’s (ok, about 5 years ago) which looked awful and had a terrible customer journey.

Long story short, I wasn’t able to arrange redelivery as they only delivered Monday to Friday between 8am and 6pm. Yep, you read that right. Pretty much the exact window where I am out of the flat with the whole purpose of earning money so that I can order beer online in the first place! I was furious! Naturally I did the first thing that any sensible rational person does in this day and age… I bitched about it on Twitter. I didn’t expect any more than a slightly smug rant on my part with a follow up call in the morning but lo and behold, the following morning I received a message from UK Mail the next morning, offering to help.



Wow! How impressive is this! Fair play to UK mail for monitoring their social media presence. I immediately felt reassurance and that my issue would be resolved toot suite. They asked me to follow them on Twitter (they followed me back) and asked me to send them a direct message with my consignment number and they’d look into the order. Wow wow wow. But, it wasn’t to be. As the below messages highlight, whilst it’s great that they are responsive to social media, their business model is so inflexible that they are actually unable to deliver my order without me taking a day off work. As you can see, even suggestions of attempting to deliver to me first thing in the morning or dashing home to collect at the back end of the day are rebuffed as they are not able to control the movements of their drivers. I genuinely feel that I’m being punished for having a job.



I’m sure you can see, the solution they offer to resolution is to return to the original sender and request that the sender changes the delivery information. So, yet more hassle for me! I have to sort out arrangements for my own bloody delivery! And what guarantee do I have that even if Brewdog do as I request, that I’ll still receive my order? In the end, I did as they requested and contacted Brewdog with a strongly worded email and informed them of the problems that I have had with UK Mail, and advised them that the did not use UK Mail for order fulfilment in future. Brewdog are a brand that are very proud of who they are and what they do, and you know what, I’ll be surprised if they don’t consider their delivery service in future as poor service detracts from their brand.

In conclusion, I think it’s fantastic that organisations are embracing social media to deal with customer problems but if your business is so inflexible that you are unable to resolve issues to the satisfaction of your customers, it’s just going to cost your badly. I was elated when I received the initial response from UK mail but felt crushing disappointed when I was unable to achieve a resolution.