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I'm a married mum who loves chocolate & music & having an opinion on just about everything! E-Mail summermama@hotmail.co.uk

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Customer Service!

I’ve been very quiet on the blogging for a while, and thought I’d just post a little update to say hello, and provide a brief insight to some of what’s been going on the last couple of weeks.

Right now, I don’t have any products that I’m testing, and I don’t have any fabulous new things that I’ve brought for The Boy that I want to tell everyone about (which is how a lot of my product reviews come about). So there’s not a product review as such, but the thing I’d like to mention is customer service.

Now, as a rule, customers don’t need customer services until something goes wrong; It’s an ugly truth, that if we’re happy with a product we don’t tend to contact the company to tell them how happy we are. Instead these poor people who staff customer service departments are left with lots of stroppy phone calls and moody e-mails from customers making complaints about dysfunctional products. The reason I know this so well is because it is the field in which I am based. Despite my many different job titles over the years, I would say that, primarily, every single job I’ve ever done (including starting as a volunteer for the Cats Protection League when I was fourteen) has been customer service based. As such, I am very aware of how relentlessly horrible it can be to have a stream of people ready to give you an ear-bashing about their problem, and vent their anger at you as a representative of the company, regardless of whether or not you’re able or willing to do something to help in a bad situation. Which is why, as a customer, I am more often than not the type of person who will be very careful at how I word a complaint, or how I speak when I’m on the phone, as I’m aware it isn’t this actual persons fault that I have a problem, but at the same time I want them to know all the facts and be able to help me resolving the dilemma. When I receive poor customer service I am the sort of customer I’d hate to deal with myself, but my point is that I’ve already got a faulty product and putting bad customer service on top of that simply is not on. When I receive good customer service, I always say thank you to those involved, and mention it to my friends – which brings me neatly to my point.

If you’ve read my review on the Nuby Teether Tugz Rabbit, you’ll know just how much The Boy adores it. I tied it to his carseat harness using a Toy Tie and it has been his beloved companion on car journeys ever since. I’m a very careful mummy when it comes to considering things like choking hazards (particularly as he is in a rear-facing carseat) so before every journey I checked the rabbit to ensure it was in good order before allowing him to chew on it. He has his four front teeth, top and bottom, and the molars have been trying to make a break through for some time, so he has been desperately chewing on whatever he can, hence it was important to me that I made sure the rabbit was in good order before he started chomping away.

That afternoon, we made a short drive to a friend’s house – she has a son three months younger than The Boy, so it’s nice for us to get together with the boys – we were in the car for about ten minutes in total. When we stopped at a set of traffic lights, The Boy started coughing. I glanced back (despite not being able to see anything of him!) and asked if he was OK. (Even though he can’t talk I find myself continually talking to him as if he understands and will answer). He coughed a bit more then stopped and continued singing (as he does), the lights changed and we continued on our journey. Upon arriving at my friend’s house, when I went to get The Boy out of the carseat, I discovered a chunk of red substance on his lip. I removed it, wondering what it was, and lifted him out of the seat – more of this red substance fell off his clothes and when he opened his mouth to laugh I saw a large piece of it on his tongue. I pulled it out and realised it was a rubbery substance, like the ear ends on the rabbit …

Somehow, he’d managed to bite through the rubbery ends on the red rabbit ear and had been picking bits off with his teeth. I was surprised to say the least, grateful that he hadn’t actually choked on any of the pieces, and wondered how and why this had happened. I removed the rabbit from his carseat harness for the journey home, and decided to photograph the rabbit ear end to send to my contact at Nuby UK who I was in touch with about the product testing I did for them a few weeks ago.

I explained what had happened, apologised if she wasn’t the right person to send my e-mail to and thanked her for sending it on to the relevant team. I added that while the Teether Tugz was six months old and The Boy has been gnawing on it a lot recently, it wasn’t something I expected; though it wouldn’t put me off Nuby products (I love them!) I just wanted to alert them to this in case it should happen again, perhaps to a younger child, which could potentially become a serious choking hazard. I sent the e-mail fairly late in the evening, while The Hubby was putting The Boy to bed, along with a photograph of the damage to the rabbit ear.

The following morning, the customer service department e-mailed me back, apologising profusely for this incident and providing a freepost address that I could send the rabbit back to, along with my e-mail correspondence, and that they would look into the incident etc etc. It was a prompt, good, standard response as far as I could see. I did as they asked, and posted the rabbit on Saturday morning on my way out.

I received another e-mail on Monday evening, this one telling me that they’d received the rabbit and it had been sent to their quality department – they advised me that it would probably be a week before any results were returned, as they would be doing a thorough exam of the rabbit I’d returned, as well as checking a cross section of stock to ensure it was a one-off incident and not something that could happen again. By Thursday morning a replacement Teether Tugz Rabbit arrived in the post (The Boy’s face lit up when he saw it!), along with a couple of discount vouchers to spend at the Nuby UK online store.

While I’m sorry this happened, and I’m grateful that The Boy didn’t choke, I am very impressed with their level of customer service and the fact they have provided me with updates along the way, apparently genuine apologies and their capable handling of the whole incident. Plus replacing the Teether Tugz with no proof of purchase (As it was brought from Tesco the receipt would have ended up in the bin before that week was out – since it was under £5 I didn’t consider keeping it). Their customer service receives a big five out of five stars for me!

My rubbish experience at customer service was last week. I’ve had a dodgy connection on one rear light on my car for a while, and generally if it doesn’t come on a little thump would make it work. Well, one evening after a long day of driving and working, I’d had enough and just wanted to get home, put The Boy to bed and curl up to go to sleep myself. Unfortunately I had to pick The Boy up from my mother in law before I could do that, and she has a happy knack of talking for a very long time about completely pointless things, so I was there for a good hour longer than I needed to be, gradually packing The Boy’s things away and edging with him closer to my car. Once in, I thought I was off, but then of course that rear light didn’t come on and she started flapping about it, and in my foul mood (combined with the start of a headache and the fact that it was past The Boy’s bedtime and it would still be another half hour before I got him home) I leapt from the car and gave the light such a whack that I punched through the plastic lenses and all I had to show for my rear light was a mangled mess of multi coloured plastic, some broken bulbs and sore knuckles. (It didn’t improve my mood!)

Fortunately I found a good seller on E-Bay advertising exactly what I needed for a tenner, with p+p additional depending on type of delivery service required. While I wanted it quickly, I saw no point in paying over the odds for special delivery as I had just over a week before I’d need the light replaced, since until then I’d have no reason to be using the car, especially when it was dark. I patched up the light as well as I could so it didn’t look so bad when I was driving in daytime, and my brake lights and indicator worked fine, so it was only the tail light actually out, and if I wasn’t driving at night then I didn’t need it anyway. I opted for standard delivery service, which I took to being Royal Mail.

The seller has a very high rating and specialises in car parts, and despite the fact I ordered the item late in the evening on Friday, he e-mailed back on Tuesday saying that the systems were off-line for Monday so he’d only just got my order details, so he would send out as priority. There was no mention of a courier delivery service, or anything else. The Boy and I were at home all morning on Wednesday and didn’t receive anything, so we popped out around to visit a friend. We were home again by 5.30, just after The Hubby got home, and we discovered a card from a courier service called Yodel.

The card said that we’d been out at 2.30 when they’d tried to deliver a parcel, and provided a mobile phone number of the courier the parcel was with so that we could phone them direct to arrange re-delivery: The card also provided a standard 0845 number for Yodel’s automated service, and log-in details to make arrangements over the internet. The courier driver had filled in a parcel tracking number and on the card was printed the depot number that the parcel had been dispatched from.

I logged onto the internet site, entered my details including the parcel number and depot number, and I kept getting an ‘Error’ message, for no apparent reason. We looked at the tracking number again and again, changing 7’s to 9’s in case we’d read the figures wrong, but still nothing happened. I phoned the mobile number and got the answerphone, so I left a message explaining we would be out the following day but that I would leave the black (recycling) bin in the front garden of the property and this was a safe place to leave the parcel. I left my phone number – repeated twice – the parcel number, and confirmed the name and address for the delivery, all spoken very clearly in my very best ‘phone’ voice.

The following day I was again home in the morning but had an unavoidable appointment in the afternoon, so I hoped that the courier would return before I went out but they didn’t – so I phoned the mobile number again, leaving instructions to leave the parcel in the black bin, leaving my phone number, confirming the parcel number, and delivery name and address. I raced home from my appointment and found no card, no delivery and, disappointingly, nobody had attempted to phone my mobile. I tried to be optimistic as the courier service could deliver later into the evening, for all I knew, so I phoned the mobile again and left a third message, now stating I was home, confirming all my details again.

When Friday morning came I had a very long day and was up and out by , as was The Hubby. After a very long drive I had a long day of training, with the return journey that afternoon clocking up a total of 200 miles driving for the day, though that didn’t mark the end of the day – I then had to travel home from work, another half hour behind the wheel, and I was anxious to get home and find my parcel had been delivered. I was due to make a very long drive on Saturday morning and without the replacement light for my car, I doubted I was going to make that drive without someone pulling me over – as well as the fact that, strictly speaking, with a broken light my car shouldn’t have been on the road, whether the light was required or not.

I got home and there was no parcel. I phoned the mobile and left another voicemail, explaining that it was urgent that I received the item immediately, and then I tried the 0845 number. After a very long recorded message, I was asked to key in my parcel number, which I did: Then I was asked to key in the depot number, which I did – The recorded voice said the two pieces of information didn’t match, so asked for the details again, and again. After three tries, the recorded voice said I was being transferred to an operator – and then the line went dead. So I phoned back, and the process was repeated, in total three times before I went into meltdown. I looked up this random courier company – Yodel – that I’d never heard of before and was horrified when I found their Facebook page; Not much interaction from Yodel themselves, but story after story of parcels going missing, deliveries never happening, the phone numbers are bogus because nobody ever gets the messages, the automated service cuts you off deliberately, etc etc etc. Frightened now that I wouldn’t receive my replacement light at all, never mind when I needed it, I made contact with the seller. He assured me he’d used Yodel before loads of times and they were fine, ignore the Facebook rumours, and so on.

At that night the doorbell rang. The dogs went crackers and The Hubby went to answer the door (bearing in mind my 13 month old son is at this point asleep upstairs in the room directly over the front hall) A loud man is on the doorstep with a parcel, shouts out The Hubby’s name and presents the parcel with a flourish, as though we should be grateful to receive it in the nick of time. The Hubby is typically understated with his displeasure at the lack of service from this company and simply signs for the parcel and shuts the door.

Luckily the seller was good as his word, the part was in perfect working order and The Hubby fitted it within a few moments. Hence our 100 mile journey on Saturday morning was considerably less stressful because my car was once again road legal and if the police wanted to bother me they wouldn’t find anything out of place. However, the experience and what I found out have completely turned me off ever using Yodel courier service myself and I would warn others the same. I attempted to write an e-mail of complaint to Yodel and was told that the maximum length was 200 characters – have you ever tried to complain using 200 characters? By the time you’ve put in your name, address, phone number, parcel number and depot number – oops you’ve run out of space. I attempted to write more than one complaint to see if I could bypass this issue, but after the first it won’t let you write another, coming up with a message that basically says give us a chance to respond to your complaint before you complain again!!

I’ve still not heard anything back from them – now I’ve got my parcel I don’t really care, either, but it would be nice to have some sort of reply from them, and on the Facebook page there are still loads of disappointed people who have neither their parcel or any kind of contact from Yodel. I hope all those people manage to get their parcel soon, or failing that some kind of compensation for the inconvenience caused by Yodel and their poor organisation. I give Yodel ZERO out of five for customer service!

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