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'Your Business Is Important to Us' (NOT)


MLBshop CaptureTom Vander Well, executive vice president of c wenger group, is a recognized customer service authority in the contact center industry.

A month or so ago I ordered a clearance item from MLBshop.com. I have ordered things from the site in the past, though it had been a while. While checking out I entered my credit card number and billing address. I did not realize, however, that the shipping address on file was an old address. I honestly forgot about the order until a few weeks later when my package hadn't arrived. Tracking the item from the website I discovered that it had been rejected by the local post office for being a bad address and returned to the shipper.

Trying to find a phone number to call Customer Service was a veritable clicking adventure. I eventually tried chat, but after waiting far too long for a human being to answer the chat, I gave up and continued my clicking adventure until I found the customer service number. After some time in queue, I spoke to a pleasant young lady.

I've spent a quarter century in Customer Service, and I know that my problem was fairly simple. I hadn't updated the shipping address on my account. I simply asked for my address to be updated and the order resent. I was assured that it had been done and that I would receive an order confirmation in 1-2 days for the replacement order. I was also given $10 provisional credit for my trouble. Awesome. Just send me my order, please.

After 3-4 days I hadn't received anything. Customer Service was closed when I wanted to deal with it, so I decided to email through MLBshop.com's customer service portal. My inquiry was very simple, but the portal wanted to continually send me back to Frequently Asked Questions to try to self-serve rather than actually send an email. I spent some time running the gantlet they required and fired off the email.

I received a response a few days later confirming the correct shipping address and saying that the order would be placed and I'd get a confirmation. Again. This time I did get the order confirmation and an expected delivery date.

The delivery date came and went, so I checked the tracking number. Once again, it had been rejected by the post office as an invalid address and sent back to MLBshop.com. 

When I finally called and got a hold of a CSR, I explained that I was really frustrated and told my entire sordid story. The young man on the phone patiently investigated the situation, placing me on multiple holds. He finally confirmed with me that the replacement order had been sent to my old address despite being told (twice) it was being sent to my correct address. He asked if I wanted a refund.

"No!" I said. Why would I descend through the seven rings of customer service hell you've put me through just to get a refund? I just wanted the item, I explained to him.

The young man said, "Oh you're in luck! There's ONE left. Let me add this to your cart (insert 15 second pause). Oh shoot. We missed it. The item is no longer available." At that point I questioned whether he was telling the truth, or was lying the whole time knowing that the item was no longer available. Don't know which is more painful.

"What about the one that was sent to me, rejected by the Post Office, and is being sent back to you?" I asked. 

"Well," he said. "I don't know. It may go back into stock, but maybe not. You'll just have to keep checking the website to see if it shows up there again."

Really? You can't flag that return with the carrier or the returns department to be re-shipped to me? Guess not.

To recap ...

I made one simple mistake in ordering: I forgot to change my ship-to address.

I put forth every (frustrating) effort to try and rectify the situation:

I tracked and self-served.
I tried to find the phone number.
I tried to chat.
I called once.
I emailed once.
I emailed a second time.
I tracked and self-served.
I called a second time.

MLBshop.com dropped the ball several times:

They said they had updated my ship-to address (they hadn't).
They said they would re-ship the order (they didn't).
They confirmed that they had my ship-to address correct (they didn't).
They said they finally re-shipped it to my new address (they didn't).

MLBshop.com did give me a total of $20 in provisional credit, which I didn't consider worth my effort, frustration and ultimate disappointment.

In all of the communication with me they repeated a standard phrase: "Your business is very important to us." I've learned in my years measuring customer satisfaction and service quality that mission statements, value statements and catchphrases are easy to copy and paste. What's difficult is delivering on the promise. Our customer satisfaction research regularly reveals some common key drivers of customer satisfaction: 

  • One contact resolution (MLBshop.com failed).
  • Ease in finding the phone number (MLBshop.com failed).
  • Correctness of answer (MLBshop.com failed).
  • Timeliness of follow-up (MLBshop.com succeeded with auto-replies, but failed in addressing the real issue).
  • Courtesy and friendliness (MLBshop.com had courteous CSRs who repeatedly failed me as a customer).

     (Note: Key drivers of customer satisfaction are variable depending on customer population.)

My experience as a customer of MLBshop.com is that if things go right (which I'm sure they do most of the time), then you'll have a decent, if unremarkable experience. If things go wrong, then there are systemic problems with MLBshop.com's service delivery system that may make communication and resolution frustrating. They may say my business is important to them, but not important enough to invest in the things that would truly satisfy me as a customer.

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