Mulch ado about nothing – why a late lawnmower means lost business

Published on June 6, 2017 by Tim Misson

Posted in Business

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Last week I was on the receiving end of some catastrophically bad customer service at the hands of a well-known delivery company. It all started when I decided the time was right to invest in a petrol lawnmower. I know, rock and roll right?

Naturally I did a lot of online research into things like cutting widths and grass box sizes, and when I was happy that I’d found my machine I placed the order on a next-day delivery. Things went downhill from there.

My order didn’t arrive the next day. In fact, following multiple phone calls and broken promises from the delivery company, it took a full six days to turn up. And when it finally did arrive it was broken and had to be swapped, which took another two days: a total of eight days for my supposed next-day delivery.

 

Now we all know that mistakes happen, and in the context of everything else going on in the world, the late delivery of a mower isn’t exactly headline news. But the experience was made worse by how desperately uncoordinated the delivery company appeared. Delivery dates I’d agreed with the customer service team weren’t passed through to the depot or the drivers. Each time I phoned they had no record of any of our previous conversations, so I ended up repeating myself a lot. To make matters worse, their online parcel tracking system didn’t seem to work on a mobile device, making it harder for me to work out what was happening.

The experience left me wondering, why was it so hard to rearrange a simple delivery? Why was a long-established, big courier struggling with something so basic? Why did one part not seem to know what the other was doing, and why couldn’t I easily find my parcel for myself? In short, why on earth weren’t the company’s business systems up to scratch?

Sowing the Seeds

Bad customer experience matters. I had no choice in the delivery company, but I can choose where I shop, and my experience makes it unlikely that I’ll return to this supplier unless they ditch their couriers. If enough people have an experience like mine maybe they will, and business is hard enough, without losing customers because your software and systems are letting you down.

So, if you were building a delivery company, what would you want from your software and systems? Wouldn’t you want to ensure that customer interactions – from any channel – were recorded and available alongside all the logging and tracking information? Wouldn’t you want the sender, recipient and your customer services team, depots and drivers all to have access to the same live information, wherever they were and whatever device they’re using?

That would only be your starting point for any chance of success. Already, dynamic couriers have embraced the power of software to disrupt their own industry. At least one major firm is texting out one-hour delivery windows, offering deferred deliveries and accepting modified instructions, even if the product’s already on the van. Against innovation like that, established companies simply can’t afford to sit on their hands – especially if the left one doesn’t know what the right is doing.

Cultivating Success

I think about what caused the failures I went through because at Red River, the user experience is always our starting point. We’re software experts, but while we can build anything from a self-contained app to an all-embracing, line-of-business system, we always start by asking: “What do people need from this software, and what will it be like to use?”

We’re experts at auditing business processes and the software that supports them to understand what does and doesn’t work, and we get off on designing systems that both address existing issues, and enable innovation, agility and the delivery of a superior service. In my capacity as head of business development, I’ve identified a firm we can definitely help. As a consumer, I’ve picked out a supplier to avoid.