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Negative Experience with Adorama

I ordered a camera bag from Adorama Camera through Amazon.com. I got the bag later than expected (though before the absolute latest delivery date). The bag was fine, but it didn’t meet my expectations in terms of size and what it offered.

I couldn’t find a specific email or department for returns, so I emailed Adorama’s general customer service email address. The next business day I heard back from them. The company basically ignored all of my specific questions and gave me the FAQ from their web site about returns (which I mentioned I had already read).

Since I couldn’t get much help with email, I decided to give them a call. The first time I press the extension for customer service, I am informed call volume is high and I should call back later. No option to hold, nothing. I call back and press the number for sales. I’m connected right away. I mention the message and the sales representative connects me to customer service (he said they should definitely be open – but it was an hour after they were supposed to open?). I am then connected to customer service and wait on hold for 10 minutes.

After the waiting on hold, I am connected to a lady who doesn’t seem very happy to be there. She’s kind of rude, can’t seem to hear me, and is short. The lady just wants to send me the same FAQ. She was even kind of pushy. Needless to say, the experience was disappointing.

The whole customer service experience was much different than I expected. I had heard and read plenty of good things about the company. Plus, when I emailed them to check on the status on my order, I got a very nice, helpful, and friendly response. I even got a follow up a few days later.

This was much different than my return experience with Headsets.com. I recently had to exchange something at Newegg.com, and was pleasantly surprised by how simple and hassle free that was as well.

Some lessons from this:

  • The return experience should be a good one. If Adorama handled this experience better, I would still have considered using them for future purchases. The bag not meeting my expectations wasn’t their fault. The negative customer service experience was.
  • Don’t lose a customer over a bad experience. Because of this one negative experience, I won’t buy from Adorama again. Invest resources (money and people) into dealing with returns and exchanges. They make a big difference.
  • You can recover. If you do mess up at one point and the customer makes you aware of it (I told them in a response to my email that I was basically ignored) – you can recover. The response to me telling them they messed up – a one liner answering one question.
  • Don’t make people call back. I can’t stand calling a company and getting a message telling me to call back. Unacceptable!

What have your experiences with Adorama been like? Like I’ve said, I’ve heard mostly good things, so this was surprising to me.

Quick Post: Use the right words.

I called a company yesterday and asked to speak to a friend of mine who works there. The person who picked up the phone informed me that my friend wasn’t in the office today. I thanked and him and he said “no problem, man.”

Besides that one word, the customer service experience was just fine. The phone was answered quickly, the representative was friendly and polite, and all of that good stuff. It was just that one word that threw the experience off.

Short story shorter, don’t use words like man, dude, brother, sister, etc. when talking to customers. Inform your representatives not to use words like that. They aren’t bad per say, but they definitely aren’t appropriate for a customer service call.

For most companies, you are better off to avoid using that language when doing anything associated with work. I’ve had a client call me brother several times in a phone call before. I wasn’t going to say anything, but it’s funny.

I’m not old by any means and those words are familiar enough to me. I know whoever is saying them means well – they just aren’t called for in a professional environment or interaction.

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(I wonder if Google is going to punish my lame sense of humor.)

Get rid of ticket and case numbers forever.

Have you ever had to call a company, gone through your call, and then be given some ridiculous case or ticket number? Not just a 1234 thing, but something like 123456-AJKJK-09324-B. I’m not a math person, but there is obviously a very large amount of potential cases with a number like that. They are annoying to spell out, annoying to keep track of, and so on. So, why not get rid of them?

When I suggest to some companies that they can get rid of ticket numbers, I am given some very weird links. If I didn’t know better, I would swear some of those executives thought I was crazy.

Ticket and case numbers can be removed and it won’t cause problems – I promise you!

The most effective way to get rid of ticket and case numbers is to simply group them under the client ID or some sort of universal locator for the customer (service tag, etc.). That way, the customer only has one number to keep track of. The rest can be done internally. Various CRM systems are compatible with this.  Some may require editing.

What I’ve seen a lot of companies do is just have the subject of all of their cases include the client number and the date. That way, they can search by the subject (just entering in the client ID) and quickly see the most recent issues, what was done, and so on. It also saves having to make a lot of changes to complicated CRM or case management systems. That’s a quick and easy fix.

Once you’ve implemented one of the two changes above, start putting it into practice. Ask customers for their client IDs instead of case numbers. Update things based on the client IDs. Remind customers about their client IDs and so on. You want the customer ID to be on everything the customer sees – that way there is no confusion.

A reader emailed and suggested that companies could also use phone numbers, email addresses, etc. as other universal indicators. Those have the possibility to change, so just keep that in mind. Ideally, you want something that won’t change and is easy to keep track of. A plus side of using a phone number or email, though, is that it is slightly more personal.

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