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Edition 283 – Click’N’Don’t Collect

Welcome to another episode of “The Stupidity of Large Corporates”.

Our youngest son, Fraser, ordered a new laptop online last week from a very large, national based retailer. We’ve all done it plenty of times and Fraser is a master at it. Except when it doesn’t work.

The retailer’s online portal allows to you select the item, choose the store from which you will collect your purchase (in his case, Macarthur Square) and submit your payment details to transact the $1500 purchase.

As with anything, all’s good until it isn’t. In this case, after paying, the national retailer, which if you’d like to know, care to shout out aloud that they’ve “done it again!” in their advertising, went ahead and cancelled his order. The premise of the cancellation – a supposed discrepancy between his bank account details and his home address. No email follow up from a human asking to clarify things. No phone call from another human, just wanting to double check if they’ve got things right. Nothing! Let’s trust the AI to do its thing and make decisions on behalf of the customer and the business.

In case you’re wondering, you wait between 7 and 30 days for your money to be returned to your bank account. If you want to protest at the treatment you’ve received or the slow refund, it’s all by email, so little do they think of their customers. We can’t possibly have a conversation with a customer, can we?

Here’s the rub – you can’t survive in business unless you’re willing to develop a relationship between yourself and the customer. Businesses involves people – the owners, the customers, the employees and the suppliers. Even when business is conducted online:

  1. A human has to order it.
  2. A human has to pack it.
  3. A human has to deliver it.

However, it appears that in the rush to improve their online options, most large corporates have completely forgotten the fact they’re dealing with a human being. You’re merely a transaction – another number in the queue or in this retailer’s case, a percentage point on the sales and profit increase they’ve lazily picked up in the last year.

I say lazily for one reason. Most of these large retail businesses have risen the dual tides of:

  1. Working from home.
  2. Being locked inside Australia

in the last 12 months. That means, the profits they’re reporting now are artificial. So, moments like Fraser’s don’t really matter at the moment – they’re already miles ahead of where they were two years ago. Except, it will all change before too long and with that will come:

  1. Profit downgrades.
  2. Plummeting share prices.
  3. Internal reviews into customer service – usually involving external consultants at eye-wateringly expensive day rates.

Ironically, in the end, he purchased a second new laptop, this time from a retailer that is family owned and operated – Bing Lee. They’re happy to take your call. They’re happy to hold the product for you whilst you head down to their store to collect. The payment goes through at the checkout, no problems. If there were any problems, well at least two humans can have a conversation about it.

Whilst today is another example of the stupidity of large corporates, it’s also a reminder to all of us in small and family business to remember, we’re dealing with people. Treat them as a number at your peril.

The potential loss for the “you’ve done it again” retailer – the laptop they’ve now not sold,
a new Smart Screen and one new Television, the latter two of which are both shortly on the cards.
What’s the lifetime cost of poor customer service in your business?