Overstock.com watches the blogosphere.

A while back I read about Tom’s negative experience at Overstock.com. Then, a day or two later, I read how Overstock.com made it right and got the problem resolved. Tom had a similar experience with the Geek Squad. Bad experience, post about it, company’s leader responded. It’s interesting to see these two large companies handling issues like this. Dell has been doing it (more about that later this week probably) and other companies are making an effort to do it.

Tom’s experience at Overstock was bad. They kept giving him false promises and stalling. If you give a customer a promise that a “specialized representative” will be in touch shortly and no one contacts the customer, it makes the experience worse. It’s very important to follow through with what you say you are going to do.

For example, if a “specialized representative” (my guess would be one who deals with shipping issues or complaints in general) did contact Tom, he or she could have resolved the issue, and Tom would have been happy. Having an easily accessible, second level of support is a great idea if you can actually follow through with it.

As a matter a fact, I like the idea of a second level of support specifically for dealing with complaints. To me, it seems like a good plan and would allow regular CSRs to focus on what they do and have other representatives be in charge of dealing with complaints or elevated issues. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.

Overstock was unable to follow through with their second level of support, so Tom posted about it. I don’t see the time that Tom made his post, but Patrick Byrne, the company’s CEO replied at 2:07 AM. He said he would have someone contact Tom to resolve it in the morning. About three hours later, the company’s customer care director posted a comment as well. as well.

Tom points out that Overstock did the following, which helped make the situation right:

  • Responded quickly. This includes watching the blogosphere to begin with)
  • Apologize. Apologizing is important. If you don’t, the customer probably won’t be happy.
  • Take responsibility. Overstock didn’t try to say it someone else’s fault or problem.
  • Make it right. Overstock resolved the issue by overnighting the item in question to Tom for no extra cost.
  • Count the cost (and savings). Mistakes cost relatively low margin businesses like Overstock a lot of money. Overstock credited Tom the money the item cost and said that him making Overstock aware of the issue was well worth the money.
  • Invite the customer back. The customer care director offered Tom to shop at Overstock again. Since the experience was handled well and resolved, Tom was willing to do so.

Bonus points for Overstock: follow up with Tom in about two weeks and make sure everything went okay and he was happy with the resolution. Maybe send him a t-shirt, or an Overstock mousepad. That would show that they were really paying attention.

If you had an issue with Amazon.com and posted about it on your blog – do you think they would respond? I doubt it. What about with Apple? I haven’t heard of them responding. I am surprised that more companies don’t watch and respond to the blogosphere – it isn’t hard to do and can make a big difference.

Good job Overstock. Keep up the good work!

3 Responses to “Overstock.com watches the blogosphere.”

  1. Jordan T. Cox said:

    Mar 27, 07 at 11:27 am

    Hehe, speaking of Dell – we still don’t have our Vista Express Upgrade Kit.

    Within the last year or so I had an interesting reverse of this happen. I posted some negative comments about a local ISP and was intrigued to find a posting the next day from a competitor, offering up their services and showing why they’re a better choice. They’ve been a wonderful vendor for us ever since.

  2. richard45 said:

    May 21, 07 at 12:04 pm

    Very interresting content 🙂 thank you

  3. Alice Jenkins said:

    Dec 22, 07 at 1:50 pm

    I wish I had found your site before purchasing from Overstock.com! I am having exactly the same experience that Tom had, terrible customer service and an empty promise to hand it off to a specialist. They gave me a UPS tracking number immediately, but UPS says it isn’t a valid number and they have no record of it. I check back daily and Overstock.com just keeps putting me off with the promise of a specialized representative.

    The bottom line is, they should give you an estimated ship/delivery date BEFORE you pay for an item. They should not give you a UPS tracking number until that number is in the UPS system. And lastly, if a customer asks where it is shipping from, they should be able to tell you.

    I just completed a massive renovation on a house, buying over $100,000 in building supplies online. This is definitely the worst experience I have had in the past year.