Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Ouroborus Customer Service = Bad User Experience Taken All the Way to Eleven!

Recently, I was checking my customer account on the American Girl® website. I noticed that a purchase (made on my behalf) at the AG Orlando store had posted under "My Orders" and out of curiosity I clicked on the link to View Details of the order. Instead of loading the order details, the page returned an error: "The store has encountered a problem processing the last request. Try again later. If the problem persists, contact your site administrator." Based upon the source file, the page seems to be having a problem polling the remote data from the store's database (some sort of misconnect/misconfig) and displaying it on call.

As this is not what is expected to occur, I contacted American Girl® to alert them of the website error. I gave them the link I clicked (View Details) and the error message returned. I received a reply that said, "Please call our toll free number and we will be happy to give your order details to you." Huh? First, I didn't ask for any order details. Second, I just told you that your website is broken and your response is to ask me to phone you for help with my order. Third, is reading comprehension an elective these days?

I responded by saying that I didn't need order help. I knew what this order was, it was from a few days prior, but at some point down the road I might need to reference an old order. As it stood, doing this was currently an impossible task. I needed for the website to be fixed. It's glitched and I was reporting an error. I then received an email response saying, "I clicked the link that you sent and it just asked me to login to the American Girl site, (I didn't login but) I don't see any error. Call us. A two-way conversation will allow us to help you with your order."

I responded by saying, "Again, I don't need help with this specific order, I need the process of viewing any order's details to work. Obviously, the link asks for a login as it pulls up (private) customer data. It's specific to my account (trying to pull up the order upon which I clicked). I'm trying to get a website error corrected. Calling you would not help this issue as I have given you the relevant data that I have. It's a server-side issue. Please pass the information on to your IT Department or whoever manages your website." (I'd checked the link in multiple browsers/OS and it always returned the same error.)

Finally, after going back and forth like this through roughly SEVEN emails, I got a response that said, "We forwarded the information you gave us to our IT Department. While they take a look at the issue, attached is a PDF copy of your order for your reference." Sigh.

At least, the error has now (presumably) been brought to the attention of someone that can inspect the error and hopefully correct it. But this should not be the customer experience. Not only did the CS Agent/s repeatedly ignore what I clearly stated (this isn't about me getting details of this order, this is about fixing a glitch on the website), but I was repeatedly asked to call in for the benefit of a 2-way conversation when I (also) repeatedly stated that I had no desire to call and I had included all the relevant information I had in the INITIAL contact email.

Sadly, this Ouroborus (loop) customer service has become the new normal. It's American Girl® in the example given here, but this happens nearly every time I contact customer service for any company. It's like incompetence is the new SOP. When did this happen? Finding an employee who can actually do their job is the exception. I try to remain civil in my correspondence, but it is becoming more difficult to do so, especially when I say the same thing over and over: I have no desire to call (why do you think I chose to email in the first place?); I gave you all the information I had in my initial contact; why is your response completely irrelevant to the issue about which I contacted you?

I know that most customer service support is menial labor and in many cases this is outsourced menial labor (Hello Amazon), but if as a company you don't think enough of your business to ensure that the people who present your "face" to your customers has some basic sense, then you shouldn't be surprised when you lose customers full stop. And companies have the nerve to complain that customer loyalty no longer exists? Hah! If I need to explain your business policy to your customer service reps or troubleshoot your systems for them, then I should also be sent their paycheck, because I'm doing their JOB. It's patently ridiculous. I'll tell you how to Make America Great Again stop employing morons. Oh, wait!

And don't get me started on the demise of the USPS. Mail delivery used to be a virtual guarantee (neither rain, sleet, etc.) now we're lucky if the mail ends up in the mailbox or gets delivered at all. (Several residents in my neighborhood have complained recently about mail being seemingly thrown on to their front porch, instead of put in the box.) As a nation, we have seemingly absconded from personal accountability. And it's a sad state we live in. OK. I'm coming down from my soapbox for now.

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