1.28.2010

heys update: blogging + persistence = satisfaction, but clearly not the norm

Update of this earlier post.

Heys called: "We are going to give you a replacement bag. We very rarely do this, because what happened to your backpack is not covered under the warranty, it is normal wear and tear. But since you bought it at ShopHeys-dot-com, and since you are a good Heys customer, we will replace your backpack. You may come pick it up anytime during normal business hours."

So when it finally became clear that I was not going to go away quietly, the company came to their senses and did what they should have done in the first place.

Obviously they had no intentions of honouring their warranty and were simply going to blame the problem on the customer.

Can this be considered good customer service? I'll leave that to your judgement.

20 comments:

M@ said...

Quick! Write them a positive customer review! You owe them!

As for me, I'll wait till I have a popular blog before I buy from them. Seems like it's far better protection than their warranty.

Amy said...

Victory! Another lesson learned for this reader---don't give up!!

impudent strumpet said...

Doesn't make me feel good about the company. Being the kind of insecure person I am, I prefer to do business with companies that will treat me like I'm just as good as anyone else as a matter of course, without my having to put in any special effort to get fair treatment. If I wanted to live in a world where the cool kids with lots of blog traffic get special treatment, I'd go back to middle school.

Which is too bad, because I love that backpack and before all this started I would have blindly bought the exact same one if I'd needed a backpack. And I think those jewelery thingies might be the solution to some of my first-world problems (i.e. "Wah, my jewelery's all tangled up!")

L-girl said...

Doesn't make me feel good about the company. Being the kind of insecure person I am, I prefer to do business with companies that will treat me like I'm just as good as anyone else as a matter of course, without my having to put in any special effort to get fair treatment.

I totally agree. Although this exchange has taken place in a world where I am suddenly a "cool kid," I am generally not a cool kid. Fair treatment should be the norm.

Which is too bad, because I love that backpack and before all this started I would have blindly bought the exact same one if I'd needed a backpack.

Somehow we must let Heys know that!

And I think those jewelery thingies might be the solution to some of my first-world problems (i.e. "Wah, my jewelery's all tangled up!")

The jewelery thingy is amazing. I wear earrings, I travel, and the two have never mixed well. This is easy to use, perfectly organized, folds up very small and packable, hangs in your hotel room (or cabin, or wherever), and best of all, the front of the compartments are transparent, so you see the contents of each one, except for a few that are not transparent, for something you might not want visible.

I fell in love with it, bought two as gifts, and now both my sister and my mom love theirs just as much.

When I tell my mother about this business with Heys, she will be very disappointed!

Kim_in_TO said...

No, this is not good customer service. I think about this a lot, because in my work we pride ourselves on good customer service, and it takes a great deal of skill to negotiate a situation in which the customer is satisfied, the business does not take a complete loss, and there are no poor precedents set.

The employees you dealt with showed no tact and seemingly no training in how to deal with customer dissatisfaction. They basically accused you of lying - which was repeated in the letter you received afterward ("we feel that your interpretation of the conversation you had with our customer service representatives is not accurate", "It seems more likely your issue was caused by either some object that was placed inside the pockets that tore a hole through it..."). They've also made three different offers, each backing down a little more, but only in response to your proactive stance in publicizing their poor service.

What irks me is that Heys' response is somewhat grudging when it should be apologetic. They decided to replace your knapsack; they decided to take a small loss in that respect. Yet they still had to get in this dig: "because what happened to your backpack is not covered under the warranty, it is normal wear and tear". From their point of view, the whole problem is that there is no way for them to ascertain whether what happened was really due to "wear and tear" or that perhaps you have a ritual of trying to tear it apart each night before you go to bed. Since they decided to replace it, there is no reason to repeat what was already made clear when you visited. So why repeat what it likely to stir up your initial unhappiness?

Here is what I would have said to you in this situation:
We're very sorry that you've had a bad experience with our product. It may be that in your daily routines, the bag is subject to more stress than average, so we can't guarantee the same kind of damage won't happen again, but we'd like to replace it free of charge.

Would that have been so hard?

I know from personal experience at work: when you think a customer is being unreasonable, it can be a bit painful to offer an apology and refund. But when you get to hear the customer's gratitude and you know that you can close the incident to their satisfaction, you end up feeling good - and you also get a sense of pride in a job well done. But all this requires a level of skill that I don't think many organizations have, or teach.

Heys' failure here is a classic example of not being able to see the forest for the trees. What is important is not whether they need to take a loss on a single knapsack, but whether they can win back your loyalty as a customer - and they can't win back your loyalty by saying: "Hi. Here's a free replacement - even though we think you're lying about how you damaged your knapsack."

Epic fail.

L-girl said...

Kim, thanks for this terrific comment and insider perspective.

The "accusing the customer of lying" route is probably the worst customer service (I guess "service" should be in quotes) technique I can think of.

Zip.ca uses it all the time. Even when they end up helping you and giving you what you needed, they first tell you that what you claim is happening is not, in reality, happening. That's their first line of defense: you are wrong. Then they say, even though we're right and you're wrong, and we have not breached our Terms of Service, we will help you because we are so nice.

I know from personal experience at work: when you think a customer is being unreasonable, it can be a bit painful to offer an apology and refund.

I would think that one must separate oneself from the company. I'm not asking an individual person to admit he was wrong and apologize. I'm asking a company to fix a problem.

Personally, I don't need or expect an apology. Just honour your damn warranty!

M@ said...

Somewhat unrelated, but this is one of the things that really irks me about shopping at Costco. After you line up forever at the cash register, fight for some kind of box in which to collect the stuff you're buying, and head for the door... some idiot has to look over your receipt and judge whether you've paid for everything you've got in your cart.

It's not just the ridiculous notion that a one-second scan of your receipt gives the checker any basis to make that judgement. It's the way they treat everyone who shops at their store as a potential criminal.

I never steal anything, but that attitude is what makes me want to start.

Presuming the customer is in the wrong is the first and most fundamental mistake you can make in customer service, I think.

L-girl said...

Wow! I've never shopped at Costco, I had no idea they do that. I've never shopped in any store that does that. Very offensive.

[Totally unrelated, but when the hell am I going to settle down and get some work done today?? Does anybody know???]

Amy said...

Yeah, I hate that about Costco also. It's one reason we no longer are "members." That and the fact that everything comes in such HUGE portions/boxes that it all spoils before a household of two can finish it.

Laura, get to work! (That's the teacher/mom in me, doing the nagging. I actually would much prefer that you keep posting stuff to distract me from MY work!)

L-girl said...

the fact that everything comes in such HUGE portions/boxes

Isn't that the whole point of Costco?

L-girl said...

PS: No nagging, please. It has the opposite effect on me. :)

Amy said...

Yes, which was great when we had kids home and four mouths to feed. Not so much any more.

Amy said...

I thought you were looking for the push to go back to work; I would never nag you. I have my own students and myself to motivate! :)

L-girl said...

I know x 2 + 2 :) s

Kim_in_TO said...

I would think that one must separate oneself from the company. I'm not asking an individual person to admit he was wrong and apologize. I'm asking a company to fix a problem.

You're absolutely right. In my case, I'm not able to, because our company has just three people and I am directly involved in setting policy - so I feel some ownership. But I've worked on an IT help desk for a larger company before, and it really is quite easy to separate yourself (I had no part in designing the product); then, apologizing is no skin off your back.

Personally, I don't need or expect an apology. Just honour your damn warranty!

Sure, and that's often the case. But apologizing is a small and easy thing - and a good way to start. Often, it can make all the difference in the world. I've gotten some amazing responses from customers when I have apologized for the company. In my IT desk experiece, the software division in Mississauga was taking over help desk operations from the hardware division in New York. I spoke with a long-time customer in Texas who had experienced many problems over the years. I listened to his explanation of his latest problem. When I spoke, my first sentence was, "On behalf of both the hardware and software divisions, let me apologize for the difficulties you're experiencing." There was a silence at the other end, and then he responded, "you know - in all these years I've never received an apology." I dealt with him a number of times over the following few months and that first call established a really good relationship with him.

There's a good customer service strategy which is sadly still not widely known, I think. It's to ask the customer with a complaint: "what would it take to make you happy?" Often, the answer is not what one might expect. We all assume that customers want money or more product. Sometimes, all people want is an apology for their inconvenience.

deang said...

Maybe relevant to this situation:

About six years ago, I received a multi-compartment, nylon shoulder bag as a free thank you gift for donating to some environmental organization. It has those little side mesh pockets for holding small cylindrical things. For years, I have stuffed a rather bulky, rolled-up umbrella into one of those side mesh pockets, even though it's a bit too large for the space. Six years on, it still hasn't ripped.

redsock said...

Part of the problem is that your average customer service person has no real training (as Kim said) and thinks that admitting the customer is right = she is being weak. I'm sure we all have examples of this -- where someone takes your complaint like a personal insult.

The check the receipt thing has happened to me the two times I have been at Tiger Direct. Even though one of those times I was maybe four steps away from the door, so I clearly did not go back and grab some other shit to steal.

L-girl said...

Adding to what Allan said, part of the problem is that the only jobs left are often either retail, fast food or call centre and/or customer service, so many people who are completely ill-suited to customer service jobs are stuck in them.

But it's also safe to assume that when you encounter consistenly bad customer service from a company, and it's always the same variety of bad (like I've experienced from Zip) that the are acting according to their training - doing exactly what the company wants them to do.

* * * *

Dean, interesting. We'll see what happens with the replacement.

* * * *

There's a good customer service strategy which is sadly still not widely known, I think. It's to ask the customer with a complaint: "what would it take to make you happy?"

You must be so good at this. Your quiet, measured way of speaking, and your seemingly unflappable manner, must really put customers at ease.

Kim_in_TO said...

You must be so good at this. Your quiet, measured way of speaking, and your seemingly unflappable manner, must really put customers at ease.

Oh my. It's not how I feel inside! Also, I'm completely flappable. I'm not sure that's a word, but I am. You just haven't seen it yet.

=o)

impudent strumpet said...

Reading all this, I just realized the during the time when I worked in customer service, I had never, not once, actually experienced excellent customer service as a customer. First I was a teenager so just not being treated like a shoplifter made me happy, then I was in university and didn't have the money to buy very much. By the time I got to experience things like customer service people with actual expertise in the products (e.g. "Based on the way this one doesn't fit you, I think that one will fit you.") or effortless returns/refunds or "Tell us what you need and we'll make it happen," I was already well into a job where I hardly ever have contact with clients. Which pays enough that I can afford to shop places with excellent customer service. While the people who do have more frequent contact with my clients get paid rather less than I do.

Perhaps this is the root of the problem.