When You Feel Lost in the System… Don’t Give Up

Large national companies pride themselves on great customer service; and those that get it right are lauded and celebrated. Spot on.But what happens when your customer experience takes a path that leaves you feeling lost in the system? Think nationally, and act locally.In October, I was consulting for a company based in New Jersey. When the project finished earlier than expected, a box of clothes a friend had shipped to my hotel ended up reaching the hotel after I had gone home.A quick phone call to the hotel solved the problem. They shipped the box to me and charged the credit card they had on file. Problem solved, right? Not quite.

A few weeks later, as I worked from home, I never heard a knock on my door or a phone call, but I find a sticky note on my gate that tells me they had tried to deliver the package three times and that I would have to pick it up at their local station. So, I Google the address on the sticky note and make a wild goose chase drive to a station that, somehow, doesn’t exist. Sigh.

I get home and call Customer Service. They let me know my package had been shipped from that station to a chemical company in Utah. I was so frustrated that I tabled my mission for a while.

A few weeks later, as it’s getting dangerously close to Christmas, the same drill happens on a second package – no calls, no knocks and a sticky note on my gate that says I need to pick up my delivery at the local station. (It was the baby dolls I ordered for my nieces for Christmas.)

I make another call to the 800 number. But, this time, I press really hard for a local station agent to help me sort this out. They connect me, and I find out the station does exist, and they had my baby doll package. (I had left out the word “West” in front of the address when I Googled it.) I picked up the dolls. They rerouted my box of clothes and refunded my charges for shipping on it.

The key to solving this was connecting with someone locally and making proactive calls to that person to ID what was going on. Depending on the customer care structure, the local angle might not always be of use, but in this case, it definitely was.

When you’re dealing with this kind of perfect storm, there are just no hard and fast shortcuts – unless you just give up.