Thursday, September 20, 2007

"I guess we should have let you know"

"We are sorry - that item was on backorder from our vendor. I guess we should have contacted you to let you know that it would be late."

I hate shopping, so I do most of it online, and use Amazon for the majority of my purchases.

But this email was not from Amazon. In this case, I had decided to give another company my business, since as much as I like Amazon, I don't want them to become the Walmart of cyberspace.

Here is the story: I had purchased some wildflower seeds. Because of my travel schedule, I had a window of opportunity to plant them last weekend. Unfortunately, even though I ordered the seeds over a week in advance - and agreed to pay a $13 shipping charge - the seeds took over two weeks to arrive, and I missed my chance to plant. I was mad, and complained to the company.

The seed company's response was pathetic. Maybe ten years ago it would have been acceptable, but no more. What's worse is that this is the second time this happened to me in the last six weeks. I ordered a life jacket so that my god-daughter would be able to swim safely in the Shenandoah. It did not arrive in time, and when I emailed customer service I got the same exact response...

When I order things from Amazon, I get a good price and free shipping. Amazon promises two-day delivery, but many times I actually receive the item in one day. Amazon's exceptional service has created new expectations that other companies either must live up to or die.

I have been thinking a lot lately about what this implies for customer service in the philanthropy business.