If you have been reading my blog you know that I am not a negative person when it comes to talking about local businesses. In this post I will highlight some incredibly poor service from EQ3 Calgary in the hopes that other businesses can benefit from the lessons presented.
This post is broken into 2 sections. The first is my experience with EQ3 Calgary. The second is 4 lessons for local business.
I would also like to hear your feedback on our reaction to the situation (are we over reacting or unjustified in our approach) and/or your experiences with this organization (positive or negative), feel free to comment below.
Experience with EQ3 Calgary
My wife and I were in the market for a Platform Frame from our new King Size mattress. We decided to purchase the Magnolia Curved Slat Bed (King Size Frame). Like most furniture purchases there is always a waiting period for the product. From the time we purchased until the product came in was around 4-weeks. This seems to be a pretty standard waiting period. The only negative to this particular product was that it is manufactured in China. A little disappointing since EQ3 is proudly promotes themselves as a Canadian Manufacturer but I also understand that certain products are simply cheaper to manufacture overseas. Our purchase price was over $1100 and we opted not to have delivered, we would pick up at their warehouse location when it arrived.
After picking up the product, and coordinating with the Sleep Country on the delivery of the mattress, we were very disappointed to realize that the product had damage. Note – the box was completely sealed, so there was no way to know of the damage until it was opened. Here is a picture of the damage:
Although disappointed to realize our product had damage, we understand that this happens in manufacturing and we were unfortunate to get a damaged one. This was no fault to EQ3 Calgary as the product was sealed, although disappointing that the manufacturing quality control did not catch prior to sealing for shipment. We contacted EQ3 regarding the issue and our specific request to rectify the situation and this where EQ3 Calgary failed in their response.
Our request was two-fold; 1) we wanted a replacement frame and 2) since this was a manufacturing defect, we also requested that EQ3 delivery the new frame when it came in. Here is a the string of conversations with their customer service department:
August 23, 2009 – request made to customer service department regarding the damage issue. This is a subset of the original email.
I recently spoke to a woman in your customer service department regarding damage to a bed we just purchased. We discovered the damage when we unpacked the box Friday night to assemble the bed. She requested we email pictures of the damage.
August 26, 2009 – email response back from EQ3 to us, again subset of email;
I am putting in an exchange for the damaged pieces. The Calgary warehouse will be in contact with you once everything is in. At which time you will able to bring back the pieces you do have for an exchange.
August 27, 2009 – email from us back to EQ3:
Thanks for the quick feedback.
Due to poor quality control at the supplier end it is our expectation that the replacement parts will be delivered and the damaged ones picked up at the same time as a courtesy for the inconvenience. Please confirm.
September 1, 2009 – another email from us to EQ3:
I am following up on the email below. I have not yet received a response.
September 1, 2009 – email back from EQ3:
Just following up with you, sorry for the delay. At this time I am unable to have your pieces deliveries to you, but I would like to offer you a $25 Gift Card to EQ3 to be used on any future purchases.
Why EQ3 Calgary Sucks
We were very disappointed that they would not delivery the product to us or give us an equivalent in compensation. Note: EQ3 Calgary charges $95 for delivery. Their view of compensation was a $25.
My issue with this approach – they charge $95 for delivery, so in sending this message what they are saying is that their time is worth more than my time. At the very minimum, one should expect a $95 gift card to match their delivery charge. The value of their solution seemed like a token response. One could argue this approach ensures that EQ3 Calgary gets more money from the customer since you cannot purchase anything for this dollar amount and by default means you would spend more with them. Personally this sends me the wrong message that it is about them and not me.
Final note on this front – as of this posting, October 31, 2009 – we have not received our $25 gift card.
4 Customer Service Lessons for Local Businesses
1) Take Responsibility For Your Product
In manufacturing defects happen. Take responsibility and be proactive in your approach to dealing with customers. Think about it, your customer has chosen your business. They are putting their trust into your company and your product. When it does happen (if you are a quality company, likely the % of defects will be marginal) be aggressive in solving it for the customer and honor reasonable requests.
2) Don’t Insult Customers With Token Offers
Put yourself in the customers shoes and ask yourself, would you be happy with your company’s response? If you can’t answer a resounding yes, then likely you have not gone far enough. You also don’t have to go to extremes on unreasonable requests (I don’t agree with the philosophy that the customer is always right, in some cases the customer is just an asshole, every business has these) but if its a reasonable request make it happen for your customer. In the above case – the right solution would have been a) deliver the defective product or b) offer a $95 gift card, which is the value of the delivery.
3) Say What You are Going to Do and Actually Do It
If you tell a customer that you will do something, make damn sure you do it. Nothing is worse than saying you will do something and then not follow though.
4) Consider Your Customer Service as a One to Many Relationship
Customer service use to be a one-to-one relationship between the company and the customer. However, with today’s communication platforms, company’s need to consider that customer service issues are one-to-many. Good or bad customer service will get broadcasted. When building out your customer service policies build then with the view that they will be distributed to a much larger audience. Your customer service department is a marketing tool for your organization that will either propel your organization forward or slowly erode your customer base.
Tell me what you think? Was our request unreasonable? What should EQ3 have done? Do you agree that Customer Service departments are an extension of Marketing?
Having spent the last year working on the redesign and search logic for the new YellowPages.ca, which launched on Oct 12, 2009, I wanted to share some of the most interesting search queries that I have seen come through our log files in the past couple of weeks. These are all PG rated, believe me we get NSFW entries, but I will exclude those from this list.
Before jumping into the list, I want to send a thanks to all the teams that worked on bringing this together. The biggest learning from this is that most people I talk to ask me why this would take so long, “I mean come on, its a website, anybody can do website design”. The actual process of building and testing was relatively short, however, the logic streams behind the platform where the most timing consuming; planning, coordination and communication. Exercise
For end users, this site either works or it doesn’t. If they find what they needed, then their local search is successful. If they conduct a search and cannot find what they wanted, then we failed. When I say this was the biggest launch in my career, here’s why? Think of these numbers; 400K advertisers with content that needs to be mined, 1.2M business listings, over 200M+ in online revenue, over 7M Canadian per month that rely on yellowpages.ca for their local search engine (source: Yellow Pages Group Financial Statements). To say that relaunching yellowpages.ca has expectations is an understatement, but a great challenge and overall response has been extremely positive.
The underlying premise behind this relaunch was very simple: a) YellowPages.ca has vast amounts of local business content (remember only 50% of CDN businesses have a website, that’s around 500K and I would argue a good 1/3 of those have extremely stale data) that we need to get in front of consumers and b) make the site more geographical relevant to the neighborhood, landmark and lat/long perspective. By opening up more of the data and creating the intersection with geographical associations, I believe Canadians will have a much better local experience. To sum up the majority of what our users are saying, “It just works, thanks”.
If you have not already checked out the redesigned home page, here is the screenshot. We moved all the key aspects of what a user wants directly to the front, based on a lot of user research. For Business Search you can search via What/Where, Reverse Phone Look-Up, Map and Driving Directions. For People Search you can search via Who/Where, Reverse Phone Number, Map and Driving Directions. On the business side you can also click navigate through Business Locations or Business Category.
Here are some of the most interesting local searches that users are now conducting on the new YellowPages.ca. If you want to see the results that go along with those searches, click below, some are quite interesting.
Hemorrhoids, Port Coquitlam – nothing to say here, but buddy go get them checked out.
Nudism, Ontario – I was surprised at how many places in Ontario you can go au natural.
Nuclear Waste, Mount Pleasant – this is a neighborhood in Toronto, I hope they don’t actually have nuclear waste. From the result set, seems they were looking for Nuclear Waste Management Organization which is located around this neighborhood – who know?
Non Toxic Toys, Calgary – Either this is an over cautious parent or a couple looking for an interesting evening. I think it is the latter.
Fair Trade Coffee, Bell Centre – the search term, Fair Trade Coffee is really increasing, especially on our iPhone Application. I wonder if this was a native Montrealer or somebody visiting Montreal. Based on the search query time, appears to be before the Montreal Canadians game.
Dog Protein, Toronto – I put this one in because as an owner of a Cocker Spaniel, I can personally say I never searched this one before, but I suppose it makes sense if your dog is not getting enough protein in its diet.
Ugly, Canada – I think this was a joke search, but one observation from my end – why are all the businesses with Ugly in their name located in Western Canada?
Sprocket, Lessard Park – Lessard Park in located in Edmonton. This proves that even business to business searches (perhaps this is business to consumer) will start to get hyperlocal given the opportunity.
Fireworks, Calgary – I wanted to include this one, because when I lived in Pickering it was amazing to me how many people shoot off fireworks during holidays. I lived in Calgary and Saskatoon prior to moving to Pickering and this was not a normal thing in those cities to do. Now that I am back in Calgary, still not normal, yet it surprises me how many searches there are for it. Go figure.
I will keep an eye out for more interesting searches to post in the future. In the meantime, if you have not already, check out YellowPages.ca and tell me what you think in my comments.