When you fall out of love with your shopping

By Dr Patrick Tissington on Oct 12, 10 08:21 AM in Communication

Buying stuff is emotional. Just think - do you remember where you bought your watch? You remember how good it made you feel?

Or the shirt you are wearing? Or your sofa? Your car? My bet is that your feelings about the things you own have quite a lot to do with the experience on buying it.

I can still remember for example buying a pair of Vans trainers in America and that we were treated as royalty in the store and I loved those trainers for years and a good part of this was my remembering what it was like to buy them every time I put them on.

Some of this experience is lost when you buy online but my point this week is that there is still an emotional content.

The Birmingham Post has asked us bloggers to name names and be controversial so here goes. When you buy something from Amazon, somehow to me it feels personal.

And the stuff arrives insanely quickly - there is almost something magical about looking at something online one afternoon and have it arrive the next morning. And what is their customer service like?

I may never know because after literally dozens of purchases I have had never had to complain about anything. In fact, we buy all sorts of stuff online from all sorts of companies and all of them deliver smiler levels of efficiency. With one exception.

La Redoute offer a vast range of nice clothes at good prices.

But they are perhaps the worst example of online retail. If you order something, it is a long odds gamble whether they will actually have it in stock.

It may arrive in 6 months, or next week or quite likely never. If you are thinking of ordering a coat for the winter from them, don't bother - you are already too late.

Unless you are thinking of getting your wardrobe ready for november 2011. It is the fashion equivalent of roulette. As for the accounts - it is Russian roulette.

Random amounts are debited and credited from your account so at any one time, unless you run a hedge fund or have a gift for the supernatural, you will have literally no idea whether you have paid your bill in full or not.

And then there is customer service. The service level is set at a level you will not believe. You need literally half a day to sort any problem out - and there is ALWAYS a problem to sort out.

But all of this pales into insignificance because La Redoute has missed on something really important about they way we relate to other people indeed to buying stuff.

They way we are treated has a massive impact on how we respond - perhaps this is even more important in the UK and especially in England.

If after all the hassle of sorting out the order, the delivery, the size, the billing etc etc, if the person we are speaking to is polite and helpful, we will forgive an awful lot.

But at Redoute, the call centre staff don't even seem to have basic courtesy. In my experience this is down to the way they are managed.

My conclusion must be that for such a dreadful service reinforced by rude "customer service" can only mean that the organisation as a whole does not like it's customers.

The only good use for the business is that I can set trying to buy something from La Redoute to my MBA students as a great example of how not to run a business.

There isn't a complicated message from this brief case study. Just that it is almost beautiful when a business gets things absolutely spot on. And when they really get it wrong, it stinks.

But maybe you have been totally delighted by the experience of buying stuff from this business. Or maybe you have found businesses which treat you even worse. As ever I'm happy to be proved wrong...

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