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Suzi Shopper: Customer Service Lessons Learned in Furniture Assembled at Home

Suzi Shopper: Thoughts on business from a consumer’s perspective

As the marketing manager here at ArcherPoint, I am constantly bugging our subject matter experts to blog (the never-ending battle for SEO rages on…). I thought it was about time I put my money where my mouth is. The trouble is, I’m not a Microsoft Dynamics NAV expert, nor am I a manufacturer, distributor or retailer. However, I AM a consumer (and an active one at that), and I’ve also been around the marketing block. I think that combination brings me some insights—and some questions at times—that I believe will help our retail clients become better advocates for their customers, which will ultimately bring more value to their businesses.

I recently purchased two pieces of furniture online, and we all know what that means…assemble it yourself: instructions that require an engineering degree to decipher, the dreaded hex tool, and hours of finger-numbing turning of screws. But that’s another story for another day. I’d like to tell you about my customer service experience to see if you can pick out examples of what went well and what could have gone better.

It has been quite a few years since I bought furniture online for assembly at home. I have to say I was impressed that the instructions have improved; furniture manufacturers have taken to heart that 65% of the population is visual learners. The instructions for my furniture had nothing but pictures, but I like a few words to clarify, especially when there are parts that look very similar. Nevertheless, I was able to successfully assemble both my shoe cabinet (my closet just isn’t big enough) and my new lateral filing cabinet, and I was able to do it using my cordless drill – no hex tool required, just a standard Philips head bit.  YAY!

However, at one point, I did have to place a call to the filing cabinet manufacturer for some assistance. Unlike trying to reach the cable company, it was easy to reach this company because the part number, page number and customer service number was printed on the bottom of each page of the instruction manual. Nice! It would have been even nicer if the customer service hours were printed as well – I had to call to get those. But, when I did call during business hours, a live person answered my call (I was impressed with this too, which is a sad statement about most customer service experiences I’ve had) – and the person who answered was able to quickly answer my question.

After assembly of the filing cabinet, I moved it into my office.  It was quite heavy, so I flipped it on its end so I could move it more easily. When I did, I neglected to take out the clips and the rails that the files hang from (DOH!), causing one of the rails to disappear. I searched and searched, and although I know it’s around here somewhere, I couldn’t find it. That night, I submitted a support request on their site (I think it was actually an email to [email protected]). Two days later, I hadn’t heard back via email, so I called in. Within 10 minutes I spoke to a rep and expected the parts to be at my door within 5 business days. To my delight, they arrived in 2 days—and I wasn’t charged a thing!

Overall, it was a good experience…as good as it can get when filing and furniture assembly are involved, that is.

How has your company taken advantage of research on human behavior to improve your customer experience?

Do you have someone dedicated to actively responding to emailed service requests? Who is their backup? And I’m not talking auto responses, people.

What’s your turnaround target time on LiveChat, email and web form inquiries and hold time for incoming phone calls? Who monitors this?