Shopping with Cybercellar; a lesson in customer service

First of all full disclosure; Cybercellar gave me a R100 discount voucher to try out their website with the aim of writing a blog post about it “if you feel that we are worth mentioning, we believe we are!, it will be appreciated.” Well they gave me R100 to spend on wine; of course I am going to use it!

And I am going to mention my experience because in some ways it was amazing, and in some ways about the worst I have ever experienced. But whatever happened, there are lessons here.

The story in brief.

The downhill experience…

  • I ordered 6 bottles of wine on the evening of 9 April, and according to the website I would get next day delivery.
  • On the late afternoon of the 10th, I received an email that the order had been shipped and I was given the tracking number.
  • Nothing arrived on the 10th or the 11th.
  • On the 12th I got a call from the courier saying that they were running late and would deliver to my home in the evening (a Friday).
  • Later that day I got another call from the courier saying they would not make Friday, but would deliver by 10am on Saturday (by which time I thought “yeah right”).
  • And of course nothing arrived on Saturday.

Rescuing a bad situation…

  • On Saturday afternoon I sent a complaint email to Cybercellar, expecting a response on Monday.
  • That afternoon the CEO (Johann) called me and offered to personally deliver my order on Sunday (they are in Paarl – 76km away to my house)
  • On Sunday morning Johann arrived with my 6 bottles of wine, and a bottle of Springfield Sav Blanc (yummy), and told me that when the courier eventually delivered my actual order it was mine to keep as well.

In summary the courier messed up my delivery (it eventually arrived on Monday – almost a week late), and Cybercellar gave me 7 bottles of wine as an apology personally delivered by the CEO on a Sunday.

And finally the lessons.

  • As Johann and I agreed it was the courier that messed up (and not Cyberceller themselves), but we also agreed that as a customer it was not my problem who messed up. He took ownership and fixed the problem.
  • You can turn a customer around by turning a negative experience into a positive one.
  • Sh*t happens, but it is what you do about it that makes a difference. Service excellence is shown at its best when things go wrong.

Will I purchase from them again? Yes; not because of the order experience, but because of the amazing way they fixed the problem.

Finally, their website is great, they have a massive selection of wine, and you get R50 off your first order.

Do you return messages?

I am working with a large company in Cape Town on some web development. The total value of the project is in the millions of Rands.

Recently I contacted a potential vendor to set-up a meeting to discuss how they could assist and work on the project. They never responded to my  my requests. So we are not going to be working with them, and they have lost a potential huge customer and a lot of business.

I contacted three people to fix some damp in my house. One never got back to me, another quoted over 5 times the going rate for the job, and the other is finishing off the job today. This is while businesses are complaining about the “tough economy”.

Do you return messages? How much business have you lost because you did not get around to answering an email?

This is what customer service is!

I have had my Amazon Kindle for about 18 months (6 months out of warranty), and a few weeks ago it started behaving strangely, in that whenever it went onto standby, it would crash.

So, I started a live chat with Amazon support on their website to see if we could resolve it. The short version of what happened is that they are replacing it with a brand new (not refurbished) 3G Kindle, at a total cost to me of $85, bearing in mind that my Kindle is 6 months out of warranty, and that the total cost of the order (include shipping and tax), is $210. They had no obligation whatsoever to offer me a $125 discount on a replacement unit.

The customer service staff were friendly, supportive and helpful. My new Kindle arrives next week.

Imagine if every company offered such great service.

What service do you offer?

Are you in the minority?

I was queuing to pay at a shop the other day when my phone rang. I took the call and quickly hung up when I got to the front so that I could pay for my shopping. The shopping assistant was surprised that I had hung up to speak to her. She told me that it was the first time that had happened, and everybody else just carried on speaking on the phone while they paid; as if she did not exist.

I thought it was just basic manners to speak to the person serving you, and not to treat them as a servant. I must be in the minority.

How do you treat those around you? Are you in the minority?

Do you want my money or not?

Why do so many companies make it so difficult to give them money? Here are just 5 ways to make me take my money elsewhere?

  • Don’t have a website
  • Have a website, but don’t provide contact details
  • Have a website with contact details, but don’t respond to my queries
  • Don’t return my phone calls
  • Break your promises, or make unreasonable promises

I bet you are thinking that your business would never do any of these. These are not difficult things to get write; they really are the basics. If you can’t get these right, how are you going to get a complex task like implementing a 5 year growth strategy right?
But in this week alone, every one of these has happened to me several times, when trying to work with both small and large organisations.

Use your customers to improve your product

I have been using Microsoft Office 2010 for a few months now. When I closed Word the other day, the following dialogue appeared on the screen. Basically Word had made a list of words that I commonly use that are not in the Word dictionary, and gave me the option of uploading them to their spell check database.

I am sure that they are using the community-gathered information to add new words to the dictionary to make for an ultimately better product.

This is a simple and elegant way to make a better product, and to have happier customers.

  • What are you doing to make your products better?
  • How are you involving your customers?
  • Is it easy for your customers to provide feedback?