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!

 

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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 8.am, 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?

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.