Three lessons to learn from my latest customer experience

Minimising risk by buying through Amazon

A week ago I bit the bullet and started to look for a used (second-hand) desktop PC.   Google came up with an array of suppliers and products – I checked out some of them.  Yet, in the end I ended looking through the Amazon site.  Why?  Buying a used PC is a risk and I was keen to minimise my risk.  Amazon, by providing, user feedback allowed me to minimise my risk.

After looking through various products and resellers I chose a Dell desktop and a reseller named Value Computers.  Why did I choose a Dell?  Because I already have one of these in the family and it works perfectly.  Why did I choose Value Computers?  Because ALL five of the user reviews were positive and written in the kind of language that a normal person is likely to write – at least in my world!

Study after study shows that most of us stick with the safe (least risky) choice that means an existing product/supplier that we are comfortable with or one that has a sound reputation.   That is exactly what I did without even realising that I was doing it.  What did it cost me?  I paid about £20 more than the cheapest comparable product from another supplier who did not have any user ratings to vouch for him.

Value Computers does a good job on keeping me informed and generates goodwill

The very day that I bought the computer I received an email from Value Computers to let me know that the desktop had been shipped.  That made me feel good about having chosen to do business with Value Computers.  I was thinking something along the following lines: “These guys are on the ball!”.  Two days later, in the morning, I received another email from Value Computers:

“Hi

Thank you for your recent purchase.you will receive your pc today.  memory also upgraded from 1 GB to 2 GB.

Please let us know if there is any issue, if not could you  please kindly leave us positive feedback.

Kind Regards”

One part of me welcomed this email as it confirmed my hunch that I would be receiving the computer on that day.  Another part of me noticed that Value Computers had got it wrong on the memory upgrade:  I had bought a PC with 2GB and that is exactly what I was getting.  So I thought maybe they just made a mistake and left it at that.

The PC arrives on the day – a promise made and kept

The PC turned up on the same day as promised by Value Computers in their earlier email.  When I opened up the robust (and professional) packaging I noticed that the PC had been wrapped up with care – to minimise any damage to the PC in transit.  Again, I was left impressed with Value Computers.

The one flaw that ruined the perfect experience

Once I got the PC out of its wrapping I quickly set about setting it up.  And this is where I had an issue.  Value Computers had sent me the desktop PC, a Dell keyboard and a Dell mouse.  I did not need the keyboard and the mouse.  I did need a power cord and there was no power cord!  So I had a bunch of kit sitting on the desk and I could not make it work and have it ready as planned because Value Computers had not sent a power cord.

Now the interesting thing is that once I got over my unpleasant surprise (no power cord, no working computer) I remembered that I had all kinds of spare power cords.  So I went looking and within a few minutes I found the right cord plugged it in and the computer worked perfectly. In fact, I am using that computer right now to write this post. Yet, at some level I continue to be disappointed and upset with Value Computers.

The puzzling thing is that the rational part of me fully gets that it is an easy mistake to make.  Yet, the emotional part believes that no mistake was made.  It believes that Value Computers did not send a power cord with the computer because they did not have a power cord.  And this emotional part of me considers this to be inconsiderate.  So I am left with this feeling of disappointment with Value Computers.  Is that fair?  I do not know.  What I do know is that by not sending over a power cord Value Computers created a problem for me.  And by creating that problem for me Value Computers ruined a perfect customer experience.

Three lessons

To deliver a perfect customer experience you have to put yourselves in your customers shoes.  If Value Computers had put themselves in my shoes then they would have realised that a computer without a right power supply is simply a big, heavy, useless metal box. 

It only works when it all works. To deliver a perfect customer experience you have to pay the kind of attention to detail that a professional chef pays when he is cooking up a dish: the ingredients matter, the tools matter, the cooking process matters, the temperature matters, the presentation matters…

You can make the customer’s risk aversion work for you.  That means you have to showcase your reputation through customer reviews/testimonial if you are to attract new customer. It also means that once you have customers then they are likely to stick around if you deliver on your promises. Customers do not like unpleasant surprises so it is up to you to do what it takes to avoid delivering unpleasant surprises.

Author: Maz Iqbal

Experienced management consultant working at the intersection of strategy, customer, and technology. Combine a tendency to think strategically with a penchant for getting my hands dirty at the coalface of implementation.