Last year, a friend of mine recommended me a book – “Delivering Happiness” by Tony Hsieh. Entrepreneurs who run an eCommerce business would have read it at least once, if not more. But I know of some, who I guess, haven’t.
In the last 4 years, eCommerce stores have mushroomed in India at a never before pace, supposedly making our lives easier. Personally, I love this shift and believe that it’s a solution to multiple problems (We can talk about them, some other time).
From the time when using credit cards on the Internet was a nasty affair, to having Cash On Delivery as a payment option, today – we have come a long way. However, the eCommerce companies that are making this a bumpy ride for customers are the sorts I just mentioned. (Oh, I am REALLY serious about getting their postal addresses, for a hard-cover!)
Last week, it was a birthday of someone in the family and I ordered a photo frame from Zoomin and some flowers from Flora India. Little did I know (as if!) these two will conspire together to give an unpleasant experience and hence, make me rant about them!
The Zoomin Case: An example of pathetic Inventory Management and unfriendly Customer Support, wrapped in a neat UI.
When I stumbled on Zoomin, I quite liked the interface on the website. There was almost nothing that could have stopped me from placing an order with them. I ordered an 8×10 Brushed Steel Photo frame (priced INR 525, but came out to nearly 700 bucks! Thanks to an expensive shipping and taxes). The checkout process was pretty smooth. Once you pay a premium, your expectation automagically goes up! Sigh.
I was impressed with the status page, on the website for all their products and delivery times. According to them, things still look good!
After almost a week, when the product wasn’t delivered, I wrote to them.
The message and tone of the reply that I received was something that took me by surprise:
All that convinced me as a first time visitor was washed in seconds. Brutally killed would be a better phrase. It didn’t end there. After having written to them twice, I haven’t heard from them yet. I guess they’re done with their job of closing a support ticket.
So much for ordering a birthday present!
The FloraIndia Case: Poor Vendor Relationship, incompetent Customer Support team and overpriced gifts - bundled together with a crappy website.
If you have seen their website, I know you’ll ask me – What made me order from them? Well, once upon a time, I found some good deal on this website and have ordered flowers, a couple of times before this. They did a decent job.
This time, they delivered the flowers meant for birthday wishes, at 9 pm – in a bad shape and color, with absolutely no sign of freshness. They were asked to be delivered latest by 10 am! (That’s when you’d want the flowers to reach someone on his / her birthday. Not when the day is over!)
After waiting for the entire day, I wrote to them around 6 pm, without expecting a reply.
Later at night, I got a confirmation email that the flowers have been successfully delivered! I wrote to them once again mentioning the major delay in delivery the condition in which the flowers were delivered.
The reply I received, wasn’t surprising at all.
I wish they ‘get’ it – Redelivering flowers or issuing a credit note doesn’t really work when you’re supposed to deliver them on someone’s birthday!
What’s more interesting? It’s been 4 days since that conversation (plus, a follow up) and I haven’t heard from them yet. Neither have the flowers been redelivered, nor have I received a credit note!
Thank you Flora India, you may deliver those flowers to your CEO with a note on my behalf, saying - ”Good Bye!”
Message to the ‘mushrooming’ eCommerce startups -
It’s inevitable for you to realize that becoming a me-too eCommerce business is easy, but delivering happiness the way some businesses do, differentiates them from the rest. It’s not just a good website that ensures customer satisfaction, but the entire cycle that starts from a customers discovering your website to receiving the product he / she ordered.
What matters is how you close the loop? Who are your key members of the team and which check-points are they responsible for? That’s what really matters.
I really admire how companies like Flipkart handle it in India. The balance they make between giving a good experience and the price I’ve to pay for it, makes me come back to them, time and again.
As a customer, that’s what matters to me the most.