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The power of a simple reply

I’ve just gone through a shameful experience with a group buying website and have been reminded of the simple power a business owner wields in replying to a customer searching for information. I hope my story will make a similar impression on you and stimulate some thinking about how you communicate with customers.

I recently left a job—to start my fab new role at MYOB—and the company was kind enough to buy me a farewell gift of my choosing (a lesson in itself about treating people with respect). An avid consumer of group buying discounts, I turned to one of the most popular sites and found a fantastic outdoor furniture setting.

The voucher purchase process appeared to go well and shortly after I received a confirmation email with my lucky number. Excited about my lovely new product, I quickly emailed my delivery details to the furniture retailer as instructed and then… nothing. No confirmation email.

Always the optimist, I waited a few days then called the business during work hours and left a voicemail at the recorded message. Nothing. A few days later I followed up with an email. Nothing. Emailed the group buying website’s customer service team and received an automated reply. Waited… nothing. Called the group buying website and was assured they would follow up with the retailer. Nothing.

This cycle repeated itself for more than one month. As my vision of romantic dinners on my balcony atop our new furniture faded, I wondered whether I should start a campaign to rescue my rattan dream by having a vent on Twitter, calling A Current Affair or sensibly discussing my situation with the Department of Fair Trading. Took me a while but I was finally ready to complain big time.

Just in time, last night I finally received a reply to my not-so-politely-worded fourth email to the furniture phantom (after noting on the same group buying website that they’d launched another deal!). It was an obvious copy and paste job, no doubt repeated for numerous emails distributed all over Australia. My first response from the company I contacted over one month ago stated that the furniture I’d so been looking forward to enjoying over summer ‘at this stage is likely to be delivered early in the new year’.

WOW. So many big fat crosses on the customer service checklist. Imagine if I’d received a personalised email reply on the same day I’d first ordered the product.

Something to keep in mind while you’re enjoying your Christmas dinner, as I plan to (on beanbags)!

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Kristy Sheppard

Kristy Sheppard

Kristy Sheppard is MYOB's manager for public relations. She has more than a decade of experience in the public relations space, spanning B2C and B2B corporate and consulting roles within the technology, financial services, franchising and FMCG industries. At MYOB she delivers programs communicating its vision, business advocacy stance and milestones as it advances products towards and within the online landscape.

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