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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Delivering Happiness

Ray loaned me Tony Hsieh's memoir Delivering Happiness on audiobook. I've been listening to it back and forth from work. It's not the most eloquently written thing ever, but his points about corporate values are pretty valid. I have to say, it makes me want to work for Zappos. The culture they've nurtured there sounds pretty awesome, or at least from his perspective. Rather than focusing on advertising and selling a brand, they have invested money into delivering customer satisfaction by making it easy to contact them and trying to make each interaction as positive as possible. Their call center staff are not judged on length of call, but on quality of service, and are encouraged to go above and beyond. After dealing with Mophie for the past few days on a problem with a refurbished Juice Pack for my iPhone. I'd suspect it wasn't working right, so I ran a test over the weekend to check performance. I called in to talk over my options after determining that no, it wasn't working as advertised. The first interaction with their customer service team was good, and made it seem like this would be an easy exchange. Just fill out this form and we'll arrange an exchange.

Unfortunately, the form went to the tech support department, which promptly sent me a message back implying that I must be wrong. Um, okay, so here's the thing: I do systems testing every day. I know how to run a good test to isolate a problem. When my battery drains faster than when I'm using no extended life battery pack, that's not me using the device incorrectly. That's the device behaving badly. But still, several emails back and forth and me changing my perspective from "I'd like an exchange, preferably before I head off on vacation" to "Nope, don't want this anymore. Just want my money back, thanks," then you have failed as a company. And it all boils down to one guy named Mike in tech support who probably gets a lot of pressure not to accept returns without thoroughly going through the full procedure.

The kicker on the whole situation was when they finally sent me an RMA, but it included this line in the email:
If upon receipt of the product, mophie determines that the problem is not covered by this limited warranty, you will be contacted to determine whether mophie should repair the problem for a charge or whether the product should be returned, for an additional cost, to you as received by mophie.

Okay, so you'll let me ship it back to you, but then after my item is out of my control, you're going to decide what you'd like to do next, and if I don't like you're decision, I can pay you to return my defective product to me at my own expense. Now, after the other emails we'd exchanged, I somehow feel less than fully trustful that you'll keep the customer's experience as the focus of your response. You have lost my trust and my promotion of your product. So, I ejected from the process and am getting a refund instead, and have no intention of buying another Mophie product again, which is the opposite of what you want for your company.

Meanwhile, I'm wearing a new pair of shoes from Zappos today that I ordered with the intent of wearing on vacation. They fit great an I'm keeping them. Also, Zappos upgraded me to free overnight shipping for no particular reason, which was awesome. Also, they sent me a special link to get free overnight shipping for life. The shoes fit great and I expect to buy my wedding shoes from Zappos as well, now fully understanding how easy their process is.

In the end, I'm going to have to agree with Tony. It's better to spend a little extra making each customer very happy, rather than spending a lot of money on marketing yourself while losing in the trenches with the 1:1 interactions. Just look at how all that "Beyond Petroleum" marketing money is working for BP now.

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