Wednesday, October 27, 2010

[more] good after-sales service

In an earlier entry I mentioned that I had ordered something from Orvis. Well, this blog is mainly full of examples of bad practice, but Orvis deserve a mention for their after-sales service.

I placed the order at 8.53 pm on Tuesday 19th of October. Although I was on their UK site, the jacket was dispatched from America. It arrived at my house on the morning of Tuesday 26th of October. That's less than a week - including a weekend, and the shipping cost was only £4.95!

It doesn't end there, however. And before I go further, I should add that the product was - to me - expensive [though perhaps no so much for others] and so my service expectation was high. But no matter how high it was - it was matched and more.

First was the packaging. A robust cardboard box. Upon opening it up I find a 'suit holder' containing the jacket - which came complete with a nice and wide, wooden coat hanger. The jacket itself was as described [though I had tried on a similar one in Orvis's Harrogate branch].

Then there's the letter that was enclosed [see images at the end of this entry]. OK, so by UK standards, the wording is a bit syrupy, but hey ... that's better than too formal. Best of all is the facility for returning the jacket if I had need to do so. Free return shipping, pre-printed address label, a dedicated UK phone line and email address and an online live chat feature available from 11am to midnight. If I had got ordered the wrong size, a replacement would be sent shipping free.

I've been in business long enough to appreciate that I have paid for all of this service within the price of the jacket, but hey ho; it's a quality jacket and a competitive price - as I have said many times, price isn't everything.

BTW - still no sign of the £10 discount :)



Monday, October 25, 2010

good after-sales service

Amazon is often held out as the example of good practice - and it is a notion that is hard to argue with. Here is another example [see also why online retail works]. This time I made a purchase on Amazon Marketplace [where Amazon host other sellers' online offerings, reather like an offline consession] - and a couple of days after the purchase I got this email:
Excellent stuff - I can think of a lot of companies who would have put my money into their bank account straight away - refunding it if the order fell through for any reason. OK, so it's not that big a sum of money, but multiply it by thousands - or millions - or purchases and you have a significant amount of interest being gained over those few days.

Footnote: I used the Amazon email to reply to the seller and received an automated reply saying they would look into it when they were back at work [I sent it at the weekend]. On the Monday morning I got an email from Amazon and one from Millet Sports - both confirming the product had been despatched.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

titles for titled customers

This made me smile - so I thought I would share it.

I was looking to make a purchase on the Orvis.co.uk website. Now, Orvis cater for - how should I put it - a better class of customer. Don't for one minute assume I am in that league, they just had a jacket I liked the look of. Anyhoo ... back to the order - and normally, when asked for your title, you are given the choice of Mr, Mrs, Ms ... maybe Doctor - but take a look at Orvis's options.
One negative, however. Before placing an order I joined a mailing list for which I was promised a discount of £10 from my first order over £50. The only detail they had was my email address, so I assumed that when that address appeared on an order I would get the discount. But I didn't. If I remember, I'll give them a ring tomorrow.

Footnote: I also like this nice touch in the order's confirmation email. Can't see that too many folk will share an email address, but still ...

Saturday, October 9, 2010

this form goes to the bottom of the class

So imagine you are a sixth former - or the parent of one - and you just want to take a look at what a few universities have to offer. Let's suppose you want to take a degree in marketing but are particularly interested in online marketing. So you just want to look through the marketing programmes to make sure e-marketing is included [not all UK universities teach the subject]. So you go to the websites of the various unis hoping that in a couple of clicks and typing in your name and address [or, for switched on organizations, just your post (zip) code and house number].

Sadly, at the University of Sunderland getting a prospectus 'ain't quite that simple. Here's the form you have to complete [click here for the real thing].
I make that 15 fields that must be filled in, and another raft of options you may or may not be interested in - including requesting information that should be available on the website anyway.

But don't worry, you do get a 'personalised VIP web page' - whether you want one or not.

Neither does the page include that old-fashioned facility: the telephone number. Or maybe an SMS number? Remember, I am just making a general enquiry. I don't even know my [or my child's] A level results yet. In marketing terms, I am right at the top of the buying funnel - not half way down - which is what this form is designed for. If you disagree with my analysis, you have to disgree with this too: website usability for improving online forms.

And finally ... there is no statement on how your email address will - or won't - be used. The Data Protection Act is quoted - but does that cover using your email for other promotional purposes? Or passing it on to other interested parties? Legal requirement or not, it is good practice to include a message outlining such things.

Oh, and I nearly forgot. If you go to the prospectus page it sits on the following URL:
https://sunderland.hobsons.co.uk/emtinterestpage.aspx?ip=student16.
Two things:
1 - that form is sitting on the domain [and so, website] of a third party - Hobsons. In my opinion, perhaps a questionable move as the univsity has no control over that domain, site or page eg if Hobsons' server goes down, so does that form. Unless Hobsons agreed to hosting a fourth level domain of theirs on someone elses server - an equally poor idea even if it is technically viable, and
2 - why not host the prospectus for Sunderland University on either:
Sunderland.ac.uk/Prospectus
or
Prospectus.Sunderland.ac.uk
Of course I know nothing about these domain name issues. Oh, sorry, yes I do - I've written a book on the subject: Choosing the right domain name - a marketing perspective