Finding a chink in the armor

{A Note to Readers: This is another in a series of guest blogs focused on Customer Experience from the amazing Katy Wild. Working with Katy, I can always expect to learn something; I trust you will, too. ~ bph}

Let me start by saying I do a lot of shopping with a major online retailer that happens to be a valued Freeman customer. I think they are a phenomenal company.  They have offered  technology and consumer service that no one would have thought of even 5 to 10 years ago — and they continue to set the bar high not only for their competitors but for all companies in general.  It reminds me of the quote from the movie Field of Dreams — “if you build it, he will come.”  This retailer seems to know what the public wants even before the public knows.

But for the first time recently, I found a chink in their armor.  I had a question about an order I received so I went to the company’s website to see if they had a Live Chat option — or a 1-800 customer service number.

I know it’s hard to believe but neither are easily (or obviously) offered on their website.  If you are determined, you can find a Help link at the bottom of one of the pages, which gives you another page to scroll through with repeated information and a “Need More Help” at the very bottom of the page again.  After following prompts to click on Contact Us, and clicking on four or five more drop-down fields, you can then choose to email or chat, and there’s an offer for them to call you — but no phone number for the customer to initiate a direct call.

By this time, I was really curious — how DOES the customer contact this online retailer by phone?  As an experiment, I typed “customer service” into the search field.  The first item that popped up was the name of a book about how to reach the company by phone. They are online retailers, after all, so their systems are all wired to promote online transactions. In fact, they actually offered up three books (from $0.99 to $2.99) that tell customers how to contact the company by phone – I can only imagine the customer reviews.  Ironically, I later discovered that the easiest way to find their customer service number is to search through Google. It’s right there.

That may work for online transactions. But Freeman’s business is ALL about connecting people in meaningful ways and working WITH our customers to transform, grow and extend the world of live engagements.  We invest a tremendous amount of time and financial resources in technology, websites and education but, in the end, it’s all to make it easier for our customers to reach us — and chat with a real, live person if that’s their preference.   Talking, and listening, to our customers is our business and our culture. Make it yours — make it personal.