Last week in New York City someone I know showed me an Iomega product that looked good. Naturally I had to get one. Trouble was that I couldn't tell from their website where I could buy one in Toronto where I live. So I sent an email to the company requesting a list of Canadian retailers.
The auto reply came right away. An auto reply is the message that says "thank you...your message is being assigned....visit our site while you wait...someone will get back to you." I was very pleased when I got an actual reply less than 15 minutes later. But it was of little help. Here is what it said: "I am not sure which retailers there are in Canada. In the US CompUSA and Bestbuy. Otherwise contact local computer stores and ask whether or not they have our products."
CompUSA isn't in Canada and I know that BestBuy doesn't carry Iomega. And what's with the "call around to computer stores"? In the Greater Toronto Area there are a couple thousand computer stores according to Yellow.ca (Yellow Pages). Am I supposed to randomly call through the list, or maybe do an email blast to them all and wait for the replies?
But wait a minute, on a very basic level shouldn't a computer product company know which retailers carry their products? LaCie's (a competitor) website lists about 12 retailers in Toronto that sell their products.
I suspect that that information was available. I think that this agent at Iomega fired off the email in order to close the open issue and improve their "close" statistics. Lower down in the email I found this: "Date Created: 06/28/2006 09:12 AM. Last Updated: 06/28/2006 09:48 AM. Status: Closed"
Over a month's time, covering hundreds of emails such as mine, this rapid close ratio looks great when rolled up to an executive's customer service report. If I were that executive I wouldn't know that I did not get the sale.
I did what every tech buyer does in this situation...I voted by crossing the product off my short list. By now it was noon and I decided to drive driectly to my closest computer store and get the best possible USB Hard Drive. I quickly had a 250 GB USB drive in my hand and was out the door in less than 3 minutes.
So what's the bottom line, other than do your backups?
The answer is to dig deeper, even when you see great customer service statistics. Things especially business development may not be as good as it seems.
Here are some things you can do to get to what's really going on:
- Survey every inbound contact. Phone, email, letter, whatever. Ask if the client bought the product;
- Offer inbound potential customers a coupon or discount to purchase your product to improve the odds that they buy;
- Have managers or supervisors randomly review (in the case of email) or listen to live calls to make sure client requests are handled properly.
Afer all the end game is revenue generation and customer satisfaction.