1 post tagged Case Studies
I’ve spent a bit of time today reading about the story of Ocean Marketing’s major customer service screw up. The full story, including e-mail transcripts, is posted at Penny Arcade but I’ll give you the tl;dr here:
A customer, named Dave, ordered a video game controller in early November. It was a pre-order, with the expectation that the controller would ship in early December. Dave ordered two controllers, and the pre-order required him to pay full price for the order.
Mid-December rolled around and Dave had not received the controller or heard anything about the status of the order (still expecting it to arrive early December) so he contacted the company, and received a response from their PR/Customer Service arm, which is Ocean Marketing. The reply to Dave’s inquiry about the status of the order was very short.
Just a date. No explanation. No apologies. No saying whether December 17 was the date it would be shipped or it would arrive. Just the date. So Dave e-mailed back for clarification, and let’s just say the person at Ocean Marketing quickly devolved into name calling, basically begging Dave to cancel his order because there was such high demand he wouldn’t matter as a customer. When Dave said he was going to e-mail the transcript of their communiques to sites like Penny Arcade, IGN, and Engadget, the Ocean Marketing rep replied back that he knows ALL the editors of those sites and suggested they would all side with him because he’s in tight with many important people.
Well, it turned out that no one knew who this Ocean Marketing guy was, or at least they didn’t care who he was. The story of Dave’s e-mails and his poor customer service experience has went viral, and the guy from Ocean Marketing, and Ocean Marketing itself, has been absolutely eviscerated for the past 24+ hours. Penny Arcade posted the entire exchange of emails and it really makes Ocean Marketing look bad. Furthermore, the Internet gaming community has banded together against this scumbag firm, going to Amazon to downrate their products, post bad reviews…it’s just turned very bad for Ocean Marketing.
I read once in one of my favorite books by John Miller, “QBQ: The Question Behind the Question,” that “The customer isn’t always right, but he’s always the customer.” This whole encounter with Ocean Marketing is clearly a “worst case scenario” of poor customer service, but is a good case study of exactly how NOT to respond to customers, even if the customers are making requests that are difficult for your company (even though in this case they are not.)
Here are a few ways in which Ocean Marketing could have handled this situation better.
- Keep the customers updated as to the status of their products shipping. When it became clear (likely in late November) that product shipments would be delayed, they should have immediately contacted all customers with outstanding pre-orders.
- When a customer contacts a firm asking a question, always respond with plenty of detail. The response to the question about shipping status with only a date was very poor. The response should have included the reason for the late shipments, an apology for the delay, and also offered some type of incentive or enticement to help the customer feel better about their experience with the company. Perhaps a “We are sorry for the inconvenience with your order, and as a result we’d like to give you half off your next order of $50 or more.”
- Always…ALWAYS communicate professionally with customers. That CSR’s should always use proper grammar and spelling should go without saying. Training should be given to CSR’s on terminology to use (and to not use) and how to effectively set a tone in responses to customers. Set aside the terrible grammar Ocean Marketing used in their responses, and the harsh language, and the name calling, there was just a wholesale lack of customer-focused strategy used on the firm’s responses to Dave.
- Finally, if you can’t deliver on your promises to your customers, find a way to make the situation right, even if it comes at a high cost. Customers who ordered a product (and paid in full) in early November, expecting delivery in early December, but ultimately not getting the product until AT LEAST after Christmas, should have been offered full refunds, or been given the product for free. Ocean Marketing should have been willing to take a loss on this one, as it would have paved the way for them to retain customers going forward. Now, instead, it is very likely that Ocean Marketing will cease to exist entirely.