Customer Service – What’s Old is New Again

by Alex Cochran on April 6, 2015

King-Living Just over 25 years ago my partner Desiree and I decided to cement our relationship by purchasing two new sofas from a small furniture manufacturer called King Furniture. They had one showroom in Alexandria Sydney and had a reputation for producing some quality furniture. We wanted something that would last as we could not afford a home at this point, a pair of quality sofas was a measure of committiment to each other. We visited the showroom and purchased two beautiful leather sofas plus two ottomans that were “aubergene” in color, some people would call them purple.

Fast forward to March 2015. Desiree and I are still together, and yes our two “aubegene” sofas and ottomans still sit pride of place in our house. In fact this is the third house and is over 700 km’s away from the Alexandria showroom. The sofas have taken on a “magestic pattina” over the years as a result of kids, grand kids and a menagerie of pets and vistiors who have all lounged on the sofas.

A few weeks ago we had the unlucky occurance to knock one of the feet off one of the ottomans.

The foot was a sturdy plastic piece that had a number molded into the base. I thought what the heck, I will look up Kings on the Internet and drop them a note to see if they can help.

This was the start of a short but remarkable journey. In less than 12 hours I had a reply from “Lecia” from Kings inviting me to give her a call to see what we could do.

I called Lecia and explained my dilemma. After 25 years I had forgotten the name of the model sofa, she said just wait a second. She then proceded to pull up my original sales transaction, “just let me confirm your address” she said “to make sure I have got it right.” She then confirmed where we had lived over 25 years ago. “You purchased two sofas and ottomans is that correct.” I confirmed the details. “We discontinued this model many years ago, but I think I have a solution, just let me check with the boys out the back, I will call you back.”

I hung up the phone trying to reconcile what had just happened. Within a few minutes the phone rang, it was Lecia, “I just checked witth the boys and we changed the foot of this model when our parts maker changed from imperial to metric measurements, however if you make this slight adjustment this part will fix your problem.” She went on to explain the slight modification and then added “I have put 8 replacement feet into a post pack, can I confirm your new address”. I asked how much I owed her and she said “nothing”.

Within 3 days the replacement feet arrived and within 10 minutes the “lame” ottoman was back to new condition.

I am still in awe of this level of service, lets just deconstruct what happened here.

  1. 25 years ago the world wide web was less than 12 months old, ecommerce would not emmerge until 1994 and would not be really viable until 2000 when security protocols advanced to a point that made people feel safe.
  2. Point of Sale systems in retail stores where either manual or “land locked” proprietry systems.
  3. At some point in the last 25 years someone within the King Furniture organization realized that the legacy data held was valuable, but there needed to be a “key” to unlock this data. This key would no doubt come at a cost, but that cost was seen as an investment.
  4. Someone was charged with taking, who knows how many years of customer transactional and product model, component and spare parts data and putting into a form that can be accessed across the organization.
  5. A system was then deployed that would allow fast and seemless access to this data.

The result has produced a customer service tool and archive second to none. In a world where decisions are increasingly made on a “business case” basis, it is good to see a company that understands that the very nature of “business” means taking a risk. Investing in legacy data must have been seen as a risk, but today in a fast commoditizing retail world that risk is about to pay off in “spades”.

Long live the King………………

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I rarely respond to banner ads (as does the majority of the population) However when I was confronted with an ad for Google’s latest tome “ZMOT-Winning the Zero Moment of Truth.” I just had to respond. here was the promise of research based insights into what’s important at that critical decision point where a prospect turns into a customer.

So I click on the banner and I am at a purpose built landing page, video rolling and carefully crafted, concise review designed to whip up my initial enthusiasm and guide me over the edge. But wait… where is the buy now button? Quick look at the hot zones of the screen, ah there in the top right corner not one button but four. Yes the big blue one with the words DOWNLOAD and FREE bolded, this must be the one for me, but wait there is an option do I need the standard version or the enhanced version? A quick read of the details and yes standard is ok for me. That big blue button is drawing me in, but wait do I want to preview the book… no lets just go the whole 9 yards. Big blue FREE button here I come? Click oops -404- error page not found with commentary from Google saying “that’s an error and that’s all we know”  OK back to the landing page and click on the standard ebook button, so what if I have to go through a few more steps, my Zero Moment of Truth is waiting. Click – I am whisked away to the Google Ebook store. Now this is a pretty minimalist page, just the title ZMOT, yes that is what I want, where is the buy now button, it must be here somewhere? Nothing just a preview this book button, a QR code and links to two reviews. OK so Google must really want me to preview this book (You never know this could be a dangerous tome and if I am not forced to preview it I might put myself in mortal danger?) OK so I will preview it Google. Click – Off I go to the Google eBook store preview sub-system, yes this is the book I want and no I don’t think I will hurt myself by downloading it, now where is that damn download button? It has got to be here somewhere?  The preview will only allow me to see a few select pages, whoa wait a minute, isn’t this a free book? Why can’t I see the whole thing? Is someone in Google scared that I will steal a free book?

Okay let’s sit down and think here, maybe this is a conspiracy hatched by Google to see who really, really wants this book (no tire kickers needed around here thanks.) and can jump all of these hurdles to get a free copy of “Zero Moment of Truth”.  I am up for the challenge this is going to take strategy and stealth. Back to the banner add to plan my attack.

  1. Great banner advert good branding, good call to action, click the download ebook button. Does this download the ebook, no back to the landing page video rolling. (Deja Vu)
  2. Big blue button FREE click -oops -404-
  3. Click on the ebook button – off to the Goggle ebook store again but no method of download or buy.
  4. Ah maybe I need the enhanced version click – oops off to a company called vook (who are they?) but at least they offer to sell me my FREE ebook if only I had an ipad, iphone or kindle.
  5. Back to the landing page.
  6. Click on the ebook button (again) let’s read the reviews someone must have figured out how to get this Free eBook “Zero Moment of Truth.”
  7. Hey 10 reviews all complaining about Google just trying to lure you in to get your credit card details to get a FREE book. Heck I didn’t even get to that point. But wait!
  8. A kind sole has posted the download link.
  9. For your “Zero Moment of Truth.” just use this link like I have and save yourself some time.
  10. http://google-zmot.appspot.com/google-zmot.pdf

So what’s the book like, do you think I have had the time to read it, I spent all morning just getting it.

Note to Google – Fail

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