Wednesday, 31 July 2013

What if your firm closed its doors on customer service?

What do you usually expect to receive while ordering something online? Hopefully exactly what you ordered, even though there is always a risk of getting something completely different. It could be the wrong colour or the apparel doesn’t fit you well. When such annoying things happen, you hope the company will want to help you resolve your issue.

In our Internal Marketing class, and in a way through our entire last semester at the University of Sydney Business School, I have learned that at the end of any marketing strategy, CRM, big data and many other hidden weapons of the marketing industry, there is a customer. For the firm, to satisfy his or her needs is the objective of their company.

Banana Republic, with its recent online ordering slip-up, seems definitely falling far short of their customer expectation. An American couple were bowled over when they got the parcel from Banana Republic. As Huffington Post reports instead of a tie and pocket square they expected, the package from Banana Republic instead contained sensitive “employee documents: Social Security numbers, tax forms, resignation letters, legal notices, doctors' notes and performance reviews.”

What a shame, but honestly this stuff happens with any firm. The only difference between truly consumer-oriented and others is how the company deals with such situations. You would think from such mature companies like Gap Inc, which Banana Republic is a part of, customers, even those of us who are students of marketing, expect a certain level of customer service.

But what surprised me even more is how much efforts those customers had put in force to reach the attention of Gap’s customer service. They tried to get at the company through regular customer channels, but there were no responses from the firm. The couple only got a serious response when they had employed their social media, communicating their issue through Twitter and Tumblr accounts.

Although a Gap representative finally apologised by saying: “We take the confidentiality of personal information very seriously and we strive to deliver a perfect customer experience, every time… Regrettably, human mistakes happen and this was one of them,” there is still one question for the company: has the company expressed the same apology to its employees whose personal data and information could have been compromised?

I am wondering if Gap has dealt with this situation wisely. This recent Gap case is a vibrant example of how important is to take customer request and complaints seriously and keep your customer service door opened. If Gap has promptly dealt with this particular complaint, we would not be scrutinising them in the media, proving the importance of good customer service for any company.

Elena Sveshnikova
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

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