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Chris LoCurto

By

July 10, 2012

What Are Your Thoughts?

The other day, I was searching for the smallest 1TB (terabyte) external drive I could find. So naturally, I went to my go-to website—Buy.com. It’s one of my favorite shopping sites because the online store tends to have everything under the sun and at lower prices.

I first checked to see if they stocked the flash drive size I needed, but no luck. Geez … how are we not that advanced yet?! C’mon! (Sarcasm by the way.) But they had many passport-size versions. And when I say many, I mean MANY! Unfortunately, there was no way to compare the drives side by side. I would have to click on EVERY option and scroll down to the bottom to find the info I needed.

Being me, I quickly looked for the is-there-any-way-we-can-help-you button. I didn’t find one. I did find, however, a help link at the top that went to a customer service phone number. But again, being me, I didn’t want to wait forever on the phone, so I clicked a couple more links to find an email address.

I sent a nice email asking what the smallest 1TB external drive available was. They responded with:

Hello Chris,

Thank you for your interest in shopping at Buy.com!

Buy.com’s sales department is available via our toll-free phone number 1-800-800-0800 seven days a week, 24 hours a day to help you with any issue you may have.

Buy.com appreciates your business, and we look forward to your call.

Sincerely,

Victoria Rakuten

Buy.com Customer Support

As you can see, it’s a very nice response. There’s nothing mean, bad or jerkish about the e-mail.  In fact, I REALLY like Buy.com, and will continue to make purchases from them. But I didn’t want to spend time on the phone waiting. So, I quickly Googled “smallest 1TB external drive,” found one that I liked and bought it. Because Buy.com won me over in the past, they automatically would have had my sale. But by sending me to the phone, they lost my money.

Normally, I would wind up this post with a lesson. But today, I want to know what you, as a business owner or leader, think. Should Buy.com have online customer service? Should someone have taken my email, found out the answer, and sent me the actual answer? You decide.

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  • http://epicenterlanguages.com.mx/our-blog Aaron Nelson

    I read this post early, but couldn’t get to commenting to late. 120 replies late. (Holy commenting Batman!) 
     
    I think EVERY company who wants to survive MUST offer human, smart, effective and LIGHTNING fast online support. The best way to tick a customer or potential customer off is to make it hard to do business. 
     
    I had a service issue with Paypal a while ago. Couldn’t get local debit charges to go through for a client. I e-mailed, and got this awful machine response which later passed me along to a – sorry about this – zombie who wrote me back with a ‘cut and paste’ answer which really didn’t help me. 
     
    I wrote back to re explain the problem. Same cut and past response. Useless. Last time I wrote them. Last time I really tried to use them too. 
     
    On the other hand, Madmimi, an email service provider I was using ROCKS with online service. Twitter (business hours) and E-mail(24 hours) response times are under 5 minutes – are effective, and personal. Even when they goofed by double billing me – nothing major, just 10 bucks) they were INSTANT to fix it, and refund. (And apologized as if they had double billed me for millions.) I loved them for that. 
     
    Great post….been thinking on it off and on through the day. 

  • http://specializingintheimpossible.wordpress.com/ Laura Johnson

    I used to work at an IT business and there were several sites I would look for parts on, including external drives. (btw, I was just the office manager, not an actual techie) Every single site I used had an option for customer service online. Let me tell ya, that can definitely save time!!

  • http://www.churchthought.com/ Matt Steen

    This is a classic “race to the bottom” result.  In our attempt to woo customers with low prices we actually alienate them when we cut out something vitally important: customer service.As far as I am concerned relationship always wins.  Even when it costs a little more. 

  • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

    I think they made a big mistake. It isn’t helpful if they don’t actually provide advice. They had your trust, all they had to do to get the sale was make a recommendation. Instead, they created additional friction for you. Ugh.
     
    By the way, which drive did you buy? I am in the market for one too. (You may have already answered this in the comments. Forgive me: I didn’t take time to scan them all.)
     
    Thanks.

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

       @Michael Hyatt Hey brother, I hope you’re enjoying your time! I got the Oyen Digital 1TB drive. It’s the one in the pic above. It’ll give me back a lot of space on my MacBook Air. Most likely I’m going to put some of my speaking presentations on an SD card to free up that space as well. I’ll just leave it in the slot on the Air. 

      • http://bretwortman.com/ Bret

        @ChrisLoCurto @Michael Hyatt So I’m debating an Air vs a MBP with Retina. I do develop software as well as content. Any thoughts? I know this is a complete rat-hole.

    • http://specializingintheimpossible.wordpress.com/ Laura Johnson

       @Michael Hyatt Additional friction…agreed. Our society is a society of convenience. The business may have a nice “response” e-mail, but all it did was create an additional step in the customer service process, for both the business and the customer. No customer wants extra fluff to wade through. Especially people looking for products to make their life easier!

  • http://www.ricardoequips.com RicardoEquips

    I believe online customer service is A HUGE deal. I know bloggers who have their sites set up as a business with all their training programs and other services. But there was one that stood out when I was doing research on starting my own membership site. His name is Yaro Starak. He is one of the top money making bloggers in the world. And he said in his e-Book called, The Membership Site Masteroplan,
     
    “I chose to have processes outsources to a customer service person – A REAL LIVE HUMAN BEING [actually this is in italics–bold mine] – who chases up lost payments, suspends or activates accounts and provides member support.
     
    Using a human for operations that require interaction with other humans, is almost always better than using automated robot scripts. Customer service is a BIG [this bold is his] deal and critical for the success of your membership site, and while I love computer automated processes, when they aren’t accurate and you need to directly communicate with your customers, a human solution is almost always the better option, and certainly has been for my membership sites.
     
    My decision was not to struggle and rely on complicated membership site technology and instead use a very simple technical set-up, and then rely on my customer service delivered by real humans to be the automation, so I personally do not spend time dealing with it.
     
    This has worked WONDERS for me and that’s why I’m teaching this system to you, although other membership site experts will not agree with me and have preference for scripts like aMember.” (“Today I Only Use WordPress” except from Membership Site Masterplan Pg 21-22, by Yaro Starak).
     
    Since this reccomendation, I have always done it this way and suggested others to do it to. You can find Yaro at http://www.entrepreneurs-journey.com. It’s a blog where he just interviews success online entrepreneurs.

    • http://bretwortman.com/ Bret

      @RicardoEquips I can’t wait to follow up and read this tonight. Thanks!

  • JoshuaWRivers

    They should definitely have online customer service. Especially since they are an online business. Some people may prefer to call their phone number, but I would think that many online shoppers would prefer online support.

  • http://www.cabinart.net/ cabinart

    This post reminds me of my friend/retail mentor Shirley’s advice to ALWAYS make it easy for the customer. That is, make it easy if you want the sale. If you are just working at a J-O-B, then whatever passes the time. . . yawn. But if Buy.com wants the sale, they need to understand Love Works.

    • http://epicenterlanguages.com.mx/our-blog Aaron Nelson

       @cabinart Nice point! Love works! You can show love to customers by being responsive and easy to connect with. 

  • http://www.cabinart.net/ cabinart

    When I bought my MacBook Pro, it was just too much money to complete the sale online. I needed a human to hold my hand, figuratively speaking, so I called Apple. A guy named Jim (so impressive I remember his name 2 years later) provided that reassurance AND a 5% discount because I called!
     
    That shocked me – usually the discount is your reward for not bothering anyone. In the case of Apple, it was the cherry on top for calling. 
     
    I’ve never used Buy.com and now I am less likely than ever. They messed up by messing with CLo!

    • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ lilykreitinger

       @cabinart  I so want a MacBook Pro… but cannot make a business case for it yet. How do you like it?

      • http://www.cabinart.net/ cabinart

         @lilykreitinger Since I’ve never had anything except used Macs when friends updated, this thing has me completely desperately blindly in love attached can’t live without it. (It’s a little embarrassing after years of refusing to even have internet service.)

        • LaytonWelborn

           @cabinart  @lilykreitinger This is exactly the point of our discussions.  Apple cares about their products and want their customers to do so as well! Do you think you’d have made the switch as easy if they treated your online experience like Chris’ ?  I’d venture to say no and because of the way they treated you, they gained a fan.  
          When someone asks you about it ( i.e. Lily ) your passion about the product comes out.  
          This affords Apple to make a few missteps here and there, but their fans are much more forgiving.

        • http://www.cabinart.net/ cabinart

           @LaytonWelborn  @lilykreitinger Actually I was a huge fan before I dealt with Apple directly, having owned about 4 of their products, all previously owned. If their service hadn’t been what it was, I would have felt betrayed and confused. Probably would have looked for another used one with a bad taste in my mouth.

      • http://www.indueseason.net skottydog

         @lilykreitinger  @cabinart I’ve had 2 MacBook Pros so far.  They last longer than the typical PC laptop, and the customer service rocks!
         
         
         

  • https://twitter.com/mattmcwilliams2 MattMcWilliams2

    Here’s what I don’t get.
     
    The person who emailed you took (let’s just say 1:30). I realize she probably copied and pasted a response, but still she had to open it, read it, copy, paste, and send. 
     
    If you then followed her instructions, you would call someone who would spend 5:00.
     
    Total time invested by company: 6:30.
     
    If that same first person had just spent 5:00 answering your question, the company saves 1:30 and gets the sale.
     
    It’s so simple Buy.com (and anyone)…take a few of your customer service people from the phones and put them on email. Then all of the email questions get answered, more people buy, and you need less staff. DUH!!!!
     
    What company wouldn’t want this formula:
     
    More Sales + Less Payroll = More Profits
     
    Why is it that hard to get for them, or for anyone?

  • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ JoelFortner

    Without knowing more about why Buy.com does it this way, this method is about attempting to control rather than giving up control to the customer.  The Internet and social media is forcing businesses to better serve people by giving up some control or suffer the consequences. 
     
    Dell is a classic case study of this.  In short, their customer service was horrid at one point. They paid the price online.  They got wise and radically changed how they do customer service by giving up control, which turned things around for them over time. 
     
    For Buy.com, they need to flex and provide customers as many service solution channels as possible rather than forcing them info Buy.com’s preferred channel. 

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

       @JoelFortner Or constantly lose out to those who do, right? 

    • http://jonahenry.com/ Jon Henry

       @JoelFortner I totally agree, but I also think there is a slippery slop. Is it possible that companies can provide such great service that it destroys the company?
       
      Look at it this way: what if Dave Ramsey’s company changed their interview process to better accomodate the needs / preferences of applicants? Instead of having numerous interviews or having an interview with my wife, why not meet over Facebook or in a Google+ hangout? What does Dave Ramsey gain by having such a drawn out process? They protect something — like culture — right? But Dave Ramsey would be perfectly content with losing better talent for maintaining better culture too. It is done with a purpose.
       
      Online customer service is totally different from the day-to-day interactions of people, and there are tons of strategies. I can build a website that offers no warranty and no product support specifically to declare that the product does not need it — and that product could fly off the digital shelves if the product lives up to the declaration. On the other end, people offer 110% money back guarantees and 24/7 support. Why such a difference?
       
      Because customer service online, in any form or lack-thereof, works — provided it is designed with an intentional purpose. 
       

      • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

         @Jon Henry  @JoelFortner I’m not sure about the slop :-O but I agree with the rest. It’s like @Jillian in Nashville comment. It changes with the business model. But I think it applies to MOST online companies. Don’t you? 

        • http://jonahenry.com/ Jon Henry

           @ChrisLoCurto  @JoelFortner  @Jillian in Nashville Perhaps. I left Best Buy right before they started seriously trying to tackle the “we’re a showroom for Amazon” problem, but at the time BBY’s website was basically the technical information source for products carried in the store. If you called the 800 number for product support, you’d be directed to a salesperson at your local store who would reference the website (on your behalf) to answer your product questions, and then invite you into the store to buy it. Then the customer went online (again) to Amazon and picked up their product there. Best Buy does an amazing job with sales support, but can rarely convert the sales when the web is involved. So I think there is a difference between “online ONLY” and companies with a presence online in terms of service too. 

        • http://jonahenry.com/ Jon Henry

           @ChrisLoCurto  @JoelFortner  Also, can you imagine what would happen if Google could a “Customer Service” box on Google Search? 
           
          Seriously, close your eyes and imagine the hilarity and absurdity of the customer service inquiries related to Google search… (its making my day better already!)

        • http://jonahenry.com/ Jon Henry

          @ChrisLoCurto@JoelFortner
          Also, can you imagine what would happen if Google put a “Customer Service” box on Google Search? 
           
          Seriously, close your eyes and imagine the hilarity and absurdity of the customer service inquiries related to Google search… (its making my day better already!)
           

      • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ JoelFortner

         @Jon Henry It could be a slippery slope for people who don’t know what they’re doing. A business must always weigh the pros and cons of any serious decision. There are always many variables that must be considered but I believe you should start with “How do we blow away the customer?” Brainstorm that liberally, and then let realities and constraints come into play later, such as “If we do that, it will bankrupt us.”

  • bonniemann

    I think they made several mistakes in customer service but the email was only the last one.  If it is easier for a customer to google what they want than it is to find the information on your website you have already failed.   To say that you have employees available for customer service 24 hours a day for seven days a week but allow only one mode of communication with those customers is a company that has fallen behind.  Even my doctor allows me phone, fax, or use a web form to submit a question.  They have the human resources but they have not provided them with all the tools necessary to allow them to provide the type of service the customer is looking for they have again failed.  Finally if you are not going to answer customer questions related to the website or the products on it, then there is no point in having the email listed on the website.  By including the email on website they are implying that this is going to be an effective means of receiving service and when that doesn’t happen, the company has failed at customer service yet again. 

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

       @bonniemann Well said Bonnie!!!

    • JoshuaWRivers

       @bonniemann Exactly! If they intend to only support via phone, it should be clearly stated that way.

    • http://epicenterlanguages.com.mx/our-blog Aaron Nelson

       @bonniemann Please send this post to the folks at Paypal. Last time I emailed them for something….was the last time I emailed them for something. I got a human (I think) but they weren’t really a ‘thinking’ human. It was WERID.

  • http://www.indueseason.net skottydog

    Usually, it’s harder to get a contact phone number from a web site without jumping through many hoops. The best companies out there offer quick responses from BOTH formats, phone and e-support. Companies like Mailchimp offer online chat support, too. It’s nice to have several choices.

    I don’t think Buy.com’s response was a deal breaker. Apple is the same way, and I wouldn’t dream of leaving the world of Macs! Your post may just make them rethink their options for customers!

    • unknownjim

       @skottydog  I think customer loyalty is VERY rare today. If you aren’t capitalizing on it, you are very much missing out. 
       

      • http://bretwortman.com/ Bret

         @unknownjim  @skottydog I think the only reason customer loyalty appears rare is that so few companies exist that warrant loyalty.
         
        I think loyalty is strong and vibrant and alive! Customers are just waiting for companies to reveal themselves as being worth that loyalty. Like skottydog pointed out, Apple is one such example. I mentioned Zappos elsewhere as another. Simon Sinek’s book “Start with Why” is a fantastic study of what makes companies command fierce loyalty from customers, and you can get a glimpse from Chris’ interview here: itms://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-entreleadership-podcast/id435836905

        • JoshuaWRivers

           @Bret That’s a good point that few companies don’t warrant loyalty. If a company has a sub-par product, what point is good service?

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

       @skottydog I hope so. Although I doubt they will read it. :-)

      • http://www.indueseason.net skottydog

         @ChrisLoCurto They will if you tweet your link and add @buy.com to it.  I tweeted about being debt-free in March, and mentioned Suntrust Mortgage as being my last debt.  (Nothing negative about them).   I received a tweet back from Suntrust Mortgage to the effect of “Congrats and glad we could be of service.”
         
        The point is, most major companies have folks to monitor Twitter to see how they are being talked about.  It can only help in this case.

        • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

           @skottydog will do brutha!

        • http://lcdublin-myprivateuniverse.blogspot.com/ CarolDublin

           @skottydog Might be interesting to try – if they aren’t actively using email or online chat, they might not be using Twitter effectively either. They are missing a HUGE opportunity by not offering all those electronic options. These days, you have to be flexible since there are so many other choices of companies. Shame they are missing the boat.

    • http://epicenterlanguages.com.mx/our-blog Aaron Nelson

       @skottydog LIKE THAT Scott! I was using Madmimi (Similar to Mailchimp) for a while, and they have KILLER support. They are instantly available to you via Twitter and e-mail. Usually within a few minutes of asking a question. And aside from being fast to get back to you, they have great service too. (Not a commercial – I now use Mailchimp…) but I was really blown away by how fast and genuine their support folks are. Every business should be like that, in my humble opinion. 

  • unknownjim

    I think they should have an ACTUAL live person replying to the email, the chat option AND Twitter. I don’t know ANYONE  who likes those annoying 1800 phone trees or wasting a  half an hour to do what should have been a 30 second process. 

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

       @unknownjim and then they would have had a sale. 

      • unknownjim

         @ChrisLoCurto Exactly! Not to mention many more sales as you raved about the website to your friends. 

        • http://www.indueseason.net skottydog

           @unknownjim  @ChrisLoCurto I.e;  Dillano’s!  I just got my order last week and have been drinking coffee all day long!  This stuff rocks, and I would have never thought of buying coffee online from Seattle until Chris posted about it!

        • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

           @skottydog  @unknownjim Classic example. David J. Morris and Dillanos care about customer service! 

        • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ lilykreitinger

           @skottydog  @unknownjim  @ChrisLoCurto I’m a Dillano’s fan too. Love the stuff!

        • http://bretwortman.com/ Bret

           @lilykreitinger  @skottydog  @unknownjim  @ChrisLoCurto I’ll have to try it. I’m a hardcore Peet’s fan but will give them a try for a pound or two.

        • coffeemaverick

           @Bret Hey Bret, David J. Morris CEO of Dillanos Coffee here. I will give you a promo code for a 25% discount on our site Dillanos.com.I’m in Lancaster, PA right now and It’s 5:30 AM back home (Seattle) so I will post it this afternoon after a road trip to NYC. It will be good for 24 hours after I post it and anyone on here is free to use it well.

        • http://bretwortman.com/ Bret

           @coffeemaverick I was happy to give you a whirl based on so many positive recommendations, but I’m especially ready to pull the trigger now! Thanks, David.

        • coffeemaverick

           @Bret Here is the Promo code: LOCURTO25  Putting this in while checking out will give you a 25% discount off of the entire order 7/11 – 7/12/12 Spread the word if you want. We are 99% wholesale so the retail e-commerce thing is newer to us so it’s a work in progress. If you have any questions or issues email us at: customerservice@dillanos.com

        • http://bretwortman.com/ Bret

          @coffeemaverick You know, I was checking out your decaf selections (it’s a migraine thing) and trying to pick the one most like the Peet’s decaf Sumatra I usually drink (through an Aeropress). I think now I’ll just try all three. :-)

          I’ll spread the live around. Thanks, and I hope it generates lots of new customers!

        • http://www.indueseason.net skottydog

           @coffeemaverick  Thanks for the code!  We’re already tearing through the two bags we got last week!  Very excited to be placing another order with this very steep and generous discount!   Enjoy NYC!  
           
          Sincerely~ an ALREADY happy customer!

        • coffeemaverick

           @lilykreitinger  @skottydog  @unknownjim  @ChrisLoCurto Lily, I love your 4th of July Pledges!

        • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ lilykreitinger

          Thanks David, I appreciate you taking time to read it!
           

        • http://www.indueseason.net skottydog

          @coffeemaverick @lilykreitinger @unknownjim @ChrisLoCurto Thanks for reading, David! Safe trip back from NY!

    • http://www.indueseason.net skottydog

      @unknownjim The online chat system is sweet! Mailchimp in particular has mastered this practice!

  • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ lilykreitinger

    Yes, yes and yes.  It seems contradictory to tell you they value your business but you have to take five more steps to find what you need.  It reminded me of the story in the book Switch about a company named Rackspace which provides internet hosting services. They had horrible customer support and they turned it around and became “fanatical about support” to the point where they passed AT&T as the highest-grossing firm in their industry.   An online Live Chat tool and a direct response to your e-mail, not an automated one would have landed them a sale.  Businesses need to get more creative about this issue, most of us prefer NOT to use the phone :)

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

       @lilykreitinger WURD!!!

    • http://www.cabinart.net/ cabinart

       @lilykreitinger Thinking about calling AT&T just makes me twitch – so glad someone beat them!
       
      It isn’t the using the phone that’s the problem, it is the negotiating all the recordings and button pushing. Doesn’t it just frost you to have to input your phone number multiple times and then when you finally get a human, the first thing they want is your phone number??
       
      Real people on the phone, real responses (even with typos!), online Live Chat  – any human contact is the only way to feel any love!

      • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

         @cabinart  @lilykreitinger It is CRAZY when you have an automated system make you put your info in, and the human doesn’t have it when they ACTUALLY get to you! 

  • NicoleGabelmann

    I feel that to provide a satisfying experience for all customers e-commerce business should have all channels of communication open to customer service. Using a live chat tool can answer quick questions for customer that navigate well on the web. Telephones are old technology, but useful for the customer base that is still adapting to modern technology. 

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

       @NicoleGabelmann I think so. And since you’re paying for a warm body to be on the phone, put in a chat tool and you’re still paying the same person to talk to more people at the same time. 

  • Jillian in Nashville

    We’re working through just the opposite. Our team WANTS to use email strictly due to volume and we’re trying to show them that a 5 minute phone call back will A) improve our customer’s/dealer’s experience and B) probably also catch that other half of the question that they didn’t realize they had. Plus build on the whole relationship idea (we don’t have hundreds OF thousands of Chris’ looking for data storage, we have hundreds TO thousands that we work with to sell our products, so the relationship thing is key.)For a company like Buy.com though it’s a bit of a different biz model I would think. You’d hope that they have electronic means to take care of their internet based, internet savvy customers as well (live chat would be a great substitute – still electronic, but that “live” feel) but yeah, Chris… Google.com is usually the better place for “which is better” type questions. ;)  Good thought provoking question to start the day! :)

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

       @Jillian in Nashville Wow! Great opposing situation. It changes with the business model. In your case, your product NEEDS that interaction. It’s just like EntreLeadership Master Series. If you only get the info from the web, the price will scare you away. But if you talk with someone on the phone, and they walk through your business with you, you’ll see the value is about 40 times more than the cost. Great comment Jillian! 

  • LaytonWelborn

    I think there’s a big assumption happening here in that we assume that a company cares as much about our time as we do.  The reality is that very few companies care about the customer more than they do themselves.  (this is why we’re pleasantly surprised when we find that exceptional one!)  To me, this is a failure in leadership.  The leaders at these types of companies have never put themselves in their customers’ shoes for a minimum amount of time.  Does anyone really think their C-level executive would accept an email to call a phone number at their company if they have an issue?  They’ve probably never even called the 800 number once, because they call a direct number to get what they need.  When there’s a disconnect between leadership and the customer then there are definitely going to be bone-headed solutions.  This, to me is why secret-shoppers are so revealing.  
     
      Another issue I have is that what would it take to get leadership to make sure they listen to suggestions of those closest to the customer?  Not much, but it would make a great difference in at least a couple of ways.  1) they’d get ( hopefully ) a better customer experience and 2) give their employees ( all the way down to the lonely entry-level customer service rep) the opportunity, and dignity, to be involved in the process.  Now everyone is plugged in.

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

       @LaytonWelborn BAM!!!!!! Love it Layton!!

  • http://www.contagiousgenerosity.com/ Jim Sheppard

    Good post, Chris. Lots of good feedback on the main question you posed. But here’s what I want to know — which 1Tb drive did you buy?

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

       Jim Sheppard The one in the picture above. :-) I can’t wait for it to get here. 

    • tbric1

      Hover Over the picture and the info pops up!

      • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

         @tbric1 Jim Sheppard Oh, sorry Jim. I should have mentioned that. :-)

        • tbric1

           @ChrisLoCurto  Jim Sheppard That was pretty poor customer service Chris!  :-)

        • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

           @tbric1  Jim Sheppard Dang it!! My online CS sucks!!

  • John Briese

    One of my pet peeves is when someone responds to me in a different method than I initiated.  If I email, respond by email–don’t call, if I call, return the call–don’t email. I am sure those that respond by phone are trying to give top notch service, but a phone call after an email, feels like a doorbell at dinner time!

    • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

      @John Briese I hear ya there! I mentioned in another comment that I think responding by email but OFFERING a phone call if the customer would like would be a great approach. That way you let them know you are willing to talk on the phone if they prefer, or they can stay with email! Great point John!

      • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

         @Skropp  @John Bingo! And welcome back John!

  • http://jonahenry.com/ Jon Henry

    So I called the phone number (I had to, your fault Chris). After pressing 1 to speak to an associate a few times and finally pressing a number for consumer electronics, I spoke to an associate. I took me less than a minute of clicking on the phone to eventually hang up in shock when I heard a voice. 
     
    On the surface it would seem that both you and the Buy.com team are operating on two different assumptions: you, that you would have to wait on hold, and them, that they would be better to serve you on the phone. Both are right… but both are wrong too, huh?
     
    Maybe Buy.com really wanted to develop a relationship with you, and the best way for them to develop that bond was through the phone.

    • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

      @Jon Henry If that is the case, and it may be… I would say they oughtta advertise that that is WHY they don’t do live chat or live email response, BECAUSE they feel they can best serve your needs through a phone call. Otherwise they appear out of touch and unwilling to meet customer needs.
      I did it awesome btw that you actually called the number! Haha

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

       @Jon Henry BAH!!!!!! “…eventually hang up in shock when I heard a voice.”

      • http://jonahenry.com/ Jon Henry

         @ChrisLoCurto Are you crazy? I’m not spending money on something I don’t need. I mean really, who buys an external hard drive in the age of “the cloud” ?

        • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

           @Jon Henry hahaha…those of us that don’t trust the clouds yet. :-)

    • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ lilykreitinger

       @Jon Henry I can’t believe you actually played ding dong ditch with Buy.com…

      • http://jonahenry.com/ Jon Henry

         @lilykreitinger I know.. I thought my generation was suppose to text and drunken dial people. Very odd indeed.

    • http://www.cabinart.net/ cabinart

       @Jon Henry You HUNG UP on a real person???

      • http://jonahenry.com/ Jon Henry

         @cabinart I will do the right thing, call them back and apologize, and then hang up again.

        • http://www.cabinart.net/ cabinart

           @Jon Henry Let us know how it goes. . .

        • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

           @Jon Henry  @cabinart I think when they read this, they’ll send you an email asking to NOT call their customer service. 

  • tbric1

    I’m going a little different direction.  What if they solve Chris’ first problem by making the comparison process easier?  All of the subsequent steps and frustration would have been negated. 

    • http://bretwortman.com/ Bret

       @tbric1 Absolutely! But even then, he might still have had questions, just more narrowly focused ones. What then?

      • tbric1

         @Bret Right on.  I was just solving the problem as it was written, not assuming any more questions would be warranted if the comparison on size was easy to find/use.

        • http://bretwortman.com/ Bret

           @tbric1 Gotcha.

        • http://bretwortman.com/ Bret

           @tbric1 Gotcha! No worries.

    • http://jonahenry.com/ Jon Henry

       @tbric1 Amazon does not have a comparison process (that I can find or is easy to use). However, Amazon has built their business on the fact that their customers often use the review comments as a research tool more important than product specifications.

      • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

         @Jon Henry  @tbric1 @Bret All three of you are right on. Side by side would have solved my prob right away in this situation. Live chat would have solved it if no side by side. Customer reviews most likely would have explained that it was the smallest. I think any of those would have kept me there purchasing. 

  • http://JaredLatigo.com/ JaredLatigo

    Absolutely they should have. It’s all about customer service these days. Really, it always has been but even more so now that 200 other places sell the same thing with just a few minutes in a Google search. I recently wrote a post about this actually. Mr. T and Customer Service Expectations, check it out if you want. http://jaredlatigo.com/customer-service/

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

       @JaredLatigo “We’ve become so stagnant in our daily lives and encounter so much crap (for lack of a better word) that we just really want things to be decent.” so true! 
       
      And how did you get the cool “click to Tweet” function in there?

      • http://JaredLatigo.com/ JaredLatigo

         @ChrisLoCurto http://clicktotweet.com/ Just put in what you want to be tweeted…then generate and create the link in your post. :D 

        • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

           @JaredLatigo SAWEET!!! I like it. Thanks Jared!

        • http://JaredLatigo.com/ JaredLatigo

           @ChrisLoCurto Anytime! I love finding sweet little services that make all our lives easier. 

  • http://bretwortman.com/ Bret

    Generally, I’m all about adding the human element to every interaction possible. I think dehumanizing interactions is the wrong way for companies to go.
     
    That being said, when a customer is so obviously trying to avoid making a phone call, and just wants to get in and get out quickly, then yes, they ought to provide every tool possible to interact with you the way you want to be interacted with.
     
    Look at Zappos. If you call them, they’re the most personable company on the planet. They’ll chat your ear off if you let them, and you’ll feel all warm & fuzzy when you’re done, having likely feel like you made a new friend at the end. If you’d rather, you can spend your time interacting with their fantastic web site and never have to speak with a live human being. But you’ll still get their “full monty” so to speak, because they have so many other ways to humanize their relationship with you — inserts in your packaging, follow-ups, emails, and so on.
     
    Short answer (I know, too late): Yes. They should have accommodated you. Funnel you towards making the call if you want, but there should have been an off-ramp for online interaction. There should never be a reason for you to bail and take your money elsewhere unless they just don’t have what you want, and even then they should help you find it quickly and easily so you’ll remember to come back there again.

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

       @Bret “There should never be a reason for you to bail and take your money elsewhere” My feelings exactly!

    • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ JoelFortner

      I love this, Bret.  Zappos is crazy about their Serve business.  It helps when a business starts from a higher calling than just money and truly cares about people.  The culture, products, and service all reflect who they are and why they do what they do.

      • http://www.cabinart.net/ cabinart

         @JoelFortner Zappos works on the customers emotions. Just got some new shoes, wasn’t quite sure they were right and decided to keep them because Zappos is so great. Stupid way to make a decision, but that is the truth.

  • http://www.livebeyondawesome.com/ JenMcDonough

    Hmmm…my initial response was “duh of course they should”, however this is most likely how they keep their costs so low. If I were the owner and it was running on a tight budget – I would throw the problem out the employees for brainstorming solutions and offer some sort of profit sales sharing for upsells made due to any type of response help customer service gives that ends up in sales. I would do it as a group effort and share the percentage ranked on several including volumes, positive feedback, etc.
    Again though – you the customer have choosen to stay with them for the bargain so I would throw the question back to you…would you be willing to stay a customer and pay more if they had an email response center?
    Live Beyond Awesome.
    Jen

    • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

      @JenMcDonough Love the brainstorming idea!! I’m sure they could come up with some great ways I enrich the customer experience while not spending huge amounts of money! What if every employee rotated taking an hour a day where first priority was responding to live chat or email questions? That way they could still do their “regular” duties 7 hours a day and devote one to customer service…just a thought

      • http://www.livebeyondawesome.com/ JenMcDonough

        @Skropp Oh I like it! Would ensure people are focused on what they were doing. I out out a tweet on this and named it fun brainstorming blog on ways to solve a business problem. Fun to read the responses.

  • http://www.southmountainveggies.com/ tagsbrusco

    This post is timely.  We are a Web based business, and do have live chat on our website.   I was finishing up a couple of things after hours, and heard the tone, that told me that someone was needing help on live chat.  
     
    Now one of my staff had left there computer on, and live chat open, and it was after hours, but I went ahead and took the chat, answering all of the customers questions.  
     
    I think, when you have a Web based business, you need to be Web based.  That means, live chat, e-mails, etc.  If folks wanted to speak to someone on the phone or otherwise, they would simply go to a store.  It is all part of moving with the times.

    • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

      @tagsbrusco That is awesome customer service!! Above and beyond. I know there are times I don’t expect a response because it’s “after hours”. When I actually get a reply, it’s a great experience!

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

       @tagsbrusco AAAAAAAMEN!!! And great job in taking care of your customer!!

  • jhowe2718

    If they would have taken the time to do the research for you, there is that much less of a profit margin because of the employees time. Sometimes people need to do things for themselves and not take the easy way out by asking someone else to do their research for them

    • http://bretwortman.com/ Bret

       @jhowe2718 But if I as a company do these sorts of research once, then make the results available to my customers, I’m saving each of those customers that time. That produces value to each of those customers multiplied by the number of customers — it’s a huge savings overall. Yes, it’s a cost to me, but a huge benefit to my customers, who may just recognize that value and spend more with me as a result. It’s a gamble, but one I think would pay off in dollars and in goodwill and customer loyalty besides.

      • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

        @Bret @jhowe2718 That’s some burnt rice there Bret! Great points!!

        • http://bretwortman.com/ Bret

           @Skropp  @Bret  @jhowe2718 Burnt rice? Is this a cowboy thing? ;-)

        • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

          @Bret @jhowe2718 Ha! Nope. It’s a #CLoBlog thing! Means its great info/advice. Aaron Nelson burnt the rice he was making for his kids one day b/c he was talking to some Odis on twitter and getting advice, so now burnt rice=good advice :)
          But cowboys would definitely burn rice too ;)

        • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

          That should be “some of us” not Odis….stupid auto correct!!!

        • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ JoelFortner

          LOL!  Oh man that was freakin hilarious! 

        • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ lilykreitinger

           @Skropp So now we’re Odis?  You know where that is going to go… Glossary term!

    • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

      @jhowe2718 I guess it comes down to why are you in business? To simply make as much money as to can, relationships be damned? Or to serve a need in the market and make a good living by doing so? I think the either/or dichotomy of profits or service is false. Dave’s company is evidence of that, Zappos was mentioned earlier, chick fil-A is mentioned often, they’re another great example. Only worrying about the profit margin and expecting te customer to do the research is like killing the goose to get all the golden eggs. In my opinion it’s a horrible long term solution.

    • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

      @jhowe2718 I guess it comes down to why are you in business? To simply make as much money as to can, relationships be damned? Or to serve a need in the market and make a good living by doing so? I think the either/or dichotomy of profits or service is false. Dave’s company is evidence of that, Zappos was mentioned earlier, chick fil-A is mentioned often, they’re another great example. Only worrying about the profit margin and expecting te customer to do the research is like killing the goose to get all the golden eggs. In my opinion it’s a horrible long term solution.

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

       @jhowe2718 @Bret @Skropp I see your point, but I feel like I need to point out that they completely lost out on any profit whatsoever on that purchase. I went to Google and found it somewhere else in a matter of seconds. As an entrepreneur, I would much rather lose a little profit getting the sale, then not losing profit by losing the sale. Does that make sense? 

      • http://bretwortman.com/ Bret

         @ChrisLoCurto  @jhowe2718  @Skropp Getting the sale means getting a customer, and once you’ve got the customer you can build on that and worry about profit later. If you never get the customer, you’ll never get the profit ever.
         
        Is that about the size of it?

        • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

           @Bret  @jhowe2718  @Skropp fo shizzle

  • erikjfisher

    I work in social media for my day job. I believe that having a communication channel like Facebook, Twitter, phone or email means you must have someone there manning the station. In other words, why have an email address to advertise contacting them, when they have no one there to respond? Just give the primary means of communication you choose to have with your customer, and leave it at that. 
     
    That said, I don’t believe in a company choosing only the methods THEY wish to communicate, but that truly great businesses learn the methods and preferences of communication and service that will please their customer, and then learn to do those methods well.

    • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

      @erikjfisher That’s why its called CUSTOMER service, right? Haha. Great point!

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

       @erikjfisher Preach it! I think you have to understand that you’re not in business for yourself. If you are, you’ll be broke soon. :-)

    • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ JoelFortner

      Bingo.  Culture has to change in businesses.  They have to give up some control and trust the people they’re serving.

  • http://www.jmlalonde.com/ Joseph Lalonde

    I think they should have researched the issue and gotten back with you. Instead they cheapen your loyalty by sending a form email and asking you to call them. What would have been really impressive is if they would have CALLED you to discuss what you were looking for.

    • http://marcsviewonstuff.wordpress.com/ marcpekny

      @Joseph Lalonde
      Or if you called them…would you have actually spoken to a live human?

    • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

      @Joseph Lalonde I had that thought too Joseph. It would’ve been neat to get an email back saying they were looking into his question, they’d have the answer in a couple minutes, would you like them to give you a call to answer the question and any others you have, or simply email the answer to you?

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

      @Joseph Lalonde Amen!!

  • http://marcsviewonstuff.wordpress.com/ marcpekny

    I think they should provide the real service. However, perhaps they feel they cannot give the great pricing AND warm body service. I think they can and should make it work.

    • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

      @marcpekny Great point Marc. I tend to agree. But I guess it depends what they want To be known for and who their target customer. If they just wanna be super cheap and part of that is not offering comprehensive customer service, they’re free to do that. But the fact that they don’t market to that end leads me to believe they just have not taken the initiative to make customer service a top priority.

      • http://bretwortman.com/ Bret

         @Skropp  @marcpekny It definitely can be done. I mentioned Zappos above; they’re but one shining example of an online retailer than really “gets” customer service.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com/ Joseph Lalonde

       @marcpekny That’s one of the issues with Online vs B&M shopping. The customer service experience. 

      • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

        @Joseph Lalonde @marcpekny It can be done…companies just have to be much more proactive and intentional about it!

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

       @marcpekny @Skropp @Bret @Joseph Lalonde I do wonder how much more they have to pay for people to be on the phones 24 hours, instead of online. I believe the live chat features allow agents to talk with many people at the same time. And the side by side comparison would have taken all the need for CS out of the pic. 

      • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ lilykreitinger

         @ChrisLoCurto  @marcpekny  @Skropp  @Bret  @Joseph  And you wouldn’t have had a post for today.  They were just trying to be helpful Chris!  ;-)

  • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com/ Skropp

    Haha. When I saw this was a customer service post, my first thought was that soon businesses are going to have your pic in their stores next to the pictures of criminals so when you walk in they recognize you and give you exceptional service so as to not wind up mentioned in a post on The Blog…haha
    Now should Buy.com have researched your question and responded to your email? Absolutely. The days when a phone number was enough are past. A prompt email with your answer and a link to their recommendation would’ve been great…a live chat option would’ve been even better. Having a website that met your needs (quick side by side compare option) would’ve also been useful. Basically, buy.com needs to put themselves in the customer’s shoes and innovate to remain a viable company! Thanks for the post Chris!