This blog was supposed to be about leads. That is top of mind for most marketers, particularly this time of year when we are planning programs and finalizing budgets for the coming year. However I have chosen to save that for another day. Mostly because of what I have been through as a Marketer, and mother, over the last 48 hours. Instead, today I will focus on what happens to the customer AFTER they have transitioned from lead, to prospect, to customer.
Tis the season. For snow. For colds. For holiday gift giving. And for winter break. Now I don’t know about you, but figuring out what to do with 3 boys over the Winter break when the temps outside are currently hovering aroun -25 C can be daunting. Luckily for my family, we celebrate Chanukah; and this year it fell very early in December. In fact…it’s done. The presents have been opened, the candles have been lit and the food (oh the food!) has been consumed. My boys were very fortunate to have received the latest Guitar Hero game as a gift (not from me I might add) and I admit that I have become somewhat addicted to it as well.
Amazing! We have an activity that we can all do together while we’re on break. But this is where the saga begins. 6 days after opening the gift, the guitar malfunctioned. The strummer started acting up, and skipping. If you’ve never played before what this means is that even if you hit the notes, it doesn’t register. It means you get booed off the stage. So I decided that I would simply return the defective guitar back to EB Games (where it was purchased) and they could replace it with a new one. Sound simple? Ahhhhh…..not so much.
Sunday I called the location where the game was purchased just to make sure I could do the exchange at any EB Games/GameStop location (I was going to a different mall and really didn’t feel like driving around the whole city…especially this time of year). To my surprise, I was told that “you can’t return defective merchandise”. I would have to deal directly with the manufacturer, Activision. You see, Activision was experiencing inconsistencies with various retailers’ exchange policies so they decided to lay down the law. They recently issued a Canada-wide memo stating that ALL customer support issues had to be handled through Activision.com/support.
So I went out shopping with my kids and decided I’d deal with the whole mess when I got back. While at the mall I stopped into a GameStop location just to see if the story held up and, as I suspected, it did. They verified that indeed, there had been a recent memo and I would have to deal directly with activision.
When I got home I went online and contacted customer support. Now bear in mind; I’m in Marketing. My job is to help make sure that the customer has a GOOD brand experience. Now granted I am in B2B but I would think that this would be even MORE the case in B2C?
And here is where the fun REALLY begins. I will try not to pontificate and sum it up in some key points:
- I could barely hear, let alone understand the customer support rep.
- It was determined that I needed a replacement guitar
- There are 2 shipping options: Normal – I send back the defective one and upon receipt they send me a replacement; or Enhanced – I provide my credit card, they ship me the replacement, provide me with a shipping label via email, and I return the defective unit within 28 days (after 28 days my credit card gets dinged)
- Although I didn’t like the idea of providing my credit card, I also didn’t relish the thought of my kids whining for what would likely turn out to be a 2-month ordeal
- I was told I would receive an email in a couple of days and the guitar in about 2 weeks time
- It’s a couple of days and no email (remember…I have 28 days before my credit card gets charged)
- I contact customer support again. I question why this is even occurring. Why can’t I simply return the unit to the place where it was purchased and have THEM deal with the process.
- I am transferred to Tier2 customer support
- I tell the whole story again. Brent (very helpful btw…and I could understand him!) was surprised. According to him there is no policy that stipulates that the customer cannot do returns/get replacements at the retail level
So…by this point I have also tweeted my story and posted it to the Facebook page for customer support (group name: Activision Assist). After all, I am in marketing. Surely that’s gotta count for something!
Round and round this goes. Activision insists that no such policy exists. I am the ping pong ball stuck between them and EB Games. So…I contact EB Games (again) and speak to Adam, the manager at the location from where the game was purchased. Now Adam was also very helpful and insisted that there was, indeed, a Canada-wide memo issued. He then contacted his District Manager. Now while THIS was going on I received a response to my Facebook post (nothing yet on Twitter). Activision is very sorry for my inconvenience and wants to help me out.
In the end, Adam’s district manager ok’d the replacement and I will be bringing the defective guitar back to EB Games tomorrow for a replacement. Now for some, this would be the end and a very satisfactory resolution. For me, this raises a whole bunch of questions:
- Clearly there is a complete lack of communication regarding policy between Activision (the manufacturer) and EB Games (the retailer)
- Why was I, the customer, put in the middle? Why did I have to spend my time dealing with this disaster? My call to Activision and/or EB Games should have resulted in one of them contacting the other, figuring out what the heck was going on, and coming up with a solution that would not only make me happy, but ensure my loyalty. After 6 days there should have been no question whatsoever about my returning the item for a replacement.
- What about other people who aren’t “social media” savvy? Not everyone has the power of Twitter and Facebook and WordPress at their disposal.
- Not once was I asked how this would impact my future plans to purchase and/or recommend this product and store
The bottom line: I am still not 100% satisfied. Sure I’m getting the guitar replaced. But so what, that’s what should have happened 2 days ago. What have they done to rectify the sour taste that’s been left in my mouth? What have they done to ensure my loyalty (and future dollars)?
You see, at the end of the day the customer should not be the victim for this gross breakdown in communication. But who should? Does this merit a call to their PR and or Marketing Dept? Or is it Customer Support who should be taking the ball and running with this? And what about Sales? Surely the reps for EB Games and Gamestop would want to know what’s going on?
Have you had a similar experience with a retailer? What did it take for it to be resolved? And most importantly: Are you still a customer?