Friday, August 06, 2010

It ain't customer service until the customer receives the service.

I like Ikea. So please, this isn't meant as a specific attack - more an illustration of a general point.

And the general point I'd like to illustrate is: It ain't customer service until the customer receives the service.

Case in point: I left Ikea in Milton Keynes today having handed over a bit more at the till than I had expected. Now, anyone who has wandered through an Ikea store will tell you this is not an unusual experience. By the time you've thrown a dozen or so items of small value alongside your main purchases, you're soon in the realms of 'guess the basket'. I am used to failing at this game. So when my bill rolled up at approximately £15 more than my ready-reckoning had reckoned, I thought little of it - paid up and headed home.

En route my lovely wife and I did a bit of mental totting up. No matter how many times we did this we still fell short of the total Ikea's happily chatting checkout staff had got to.

So when we pulled on to the drive at home, I rooted out the receipt and... sure enough, we'd been double charged for a picture frame.

No matter, I have the receipt - and it's full of very useful info. Including a number to call for this kind of eventuality. Yes it was a call centre and yes there were a number of robots to select options against between me and a conversation with a human (a couple too many for comfort) but when I finished the interminal option dance I got straight through to a very nice, friendly lady. In customer service.

And what she did was tell me that this was absolutely no problem, they had a record of the transaction, they could see the error, they'd refund my card. One small snag... she couldn't actually refund the card herself. That's down to the store. Who she would alert. And they'd call me back. This afternoon.

They never did.

And there-in lies the problem. Ikea's customer service is just more marcomms unless it can actually deliver the service the customer needs. And it can't. So it's a misnomer.

Customer Service, it appears, is actually DONE (rather than talked about) in store.

And the bottom line is this: no matter how charming the people you call your 'customer service' team, no matter how professionally and courteously they deal with the customer's call, they are just another marcomms lie unless they have 100% back up from the do-ers - the deliverers of their promises.

The distance between what you say you will do and what you actually do, is a lie.

Harsh? Perhaps but for those on the receiving end of this mismatch, it's painfully true

UPDATE: Aug 7, 2010.
I had to call them back today - having not heard from Ikea to refund the money they had taken from me. This time they told me it 'takes 12 working hours'. When I probed further it turned out they would be reviewing CCTV evidence before giving me the money they have misappropriated from me. And that wouldn't happen today. I may get a call on Monday at the earliest. I told them in future I would be going v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y through their checkouts. And I advise everyone else so to do.

The initial pretence of trusing the customer was clearly a sham - a pretence - a lie. Marcomms at its very worst.

Now I'm not only out of pocket - I am angry about the misinformation and misdirection.

Ikea, not only is your customer service a misnomer, it's clear you actually don't trust your customers. Well, in at least one case, that feeling is now entirely mutual.
Enhanced by Zemanta

The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?