Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Teleflora continued.

Some of you may have seen that Teleflora chose to reply to my blog post yesterday. Someone called Nicole thought it might be appropriate to reply and say that sometimes poor florists get in car wrecks and flowers are late. Goodness knows I have all the sympathy in the world for a florist in a car wreck. It sounds horrible. What if you were carrying cactus? Scary. Somehow, I felt a tone of "What kind of unsympathetic entitled freak are you that you can't imagine a situation in which someone's life was on the line and your blessed bouquet was rendered late??"

Um. Nicole. Darling. I'm not an entitled freak who thinks the world should bend to my whim. If someone told me the florist was in a car wreck, I'd be the first to ask about his or her health. Screw the bouquet. But, let me note:

a) On Sunday, your representative explicitly told me that the flowers were a day late due to a volume problem - they simply were behind. Again, I work. I know what it means to be behind. I'm usually behind. Usually, when I am behind, I send an email to the person waiting, explaining when they might look for their work to be done. Rarely do I make them wait on hold for 30 minutes and then accuse them of not having a valid order number before announcing that, lo and behold, I am behind. No mention was made of any imminent death of any florists, or even any fender benders. Simply a misalignment of supply and demand. Which, I would say, should imply that someone isn't handling inventory and order routing very well.

b) Even if some poor, injured florist was unable to deliver the flowers for 24 hours - what explains the 48 hour delay? Were there no other florist delivery trucks available?

c) Why can't Teleflora spend the money it spends on Nicole answering wayward blogs in the internets - instead - on ANY type of status update system? All of this could have been alleviated with a simple email update explaining the situation, whether dire (car wreck) or routine (volume problem) and a corresponding compensatory action (look! $10 coupon!). In fact, this could be automated. Any time a floral bouquet is late by more than 24 hours, some prize is delivered. Further, heck, double the flowers on the day after mother's day. Help make up for the disappointment on the receiving end as well.

I'm just saying - I'm not a cruel and insensitive B**** who screams for her dress size at the store and complains about every imagined affront. And I highly doubt the "car accident" excuse was in play in this particular case. And no, I don't need any additional assistance. I'm done.


Kate said...

Hmm, I can't decide if it's a good or bad sign that they have someone monitoring blogs. But if Nicole reads this too I'll vouch that Lilac is actually a nice, understanding person with a deep knowledge of sales and marketing and therefore understands when a company has f'ed up an order on mother's day (of all days). You should also be ashamed of mentioning a driver in an accident unless the driver actually WAS in an accident. Otherwise you're making your customer feel guilty for something they didn't do and using that guilt as a smokescreen for the company's ineptitude.

Melissa said...

Great post!

Capt. BS said...

Amen on point (c). I'm just as dumbfounded.

Typically, I'm someone who will venture playing the devil's advocate in these types of situations. In this particular case, as someone who was privy to the entire chain of events and telephone conversations, I can find no way to do so.

Teleflora, you have no idea how hard it is to truly piss off someone as well-mannered and forgiving as Lilac -- she is one of the most selfless and least entitled people that I know. And yet, you've found a way. Over a $40 bouquet, no less. Tell me this: how does it make any business sense to permanently alienate a customer (not to mention their friends and family) to save a measly $40?

It doesn't matter why the flowers couldn't be delivered. Delivering flowers is (presumably) your company's core competency and entire reason for existing, so when events beyond anyone's control make it impossible to accomplish your one-and-only task, you have an obligation to (a) inform your customer of the problem, and (b) compensate them for the inconvenience. This is Customer Service 101.

Imagine you went to a restaurant. What do restaurants do? They prepare and serve you food. So, as a restaurant customer, you would expect to receive the food that you ordered, and to receive it within a reasonable, ten- or twenty-minute timeframe. Tell me this: how would you feel if, after an hour had gone by, you not only had not received your food, but also hadn't heard anything from the wait staff about where it was, why it was taking so long, and when you could expect it? How would you feel if, after two hours (weren't you supposed to be at the movie theater by now?), your food was finally brought to your table, again without any sort of apology or explanation from the water? What if when you asked the waiter what the delay was, he simply said "oh, one of the cooks had to go home early"? Wouldn't you feel a bit dismissed and undervalued as a customer? Furthermore, let's suppose that (given that you're going to miss your movie) you had the audacity to request that your entrees be excluded from the bill. How would you feel if the waiter began to make excuses like "oh, these things happen all the time" and offered you a paltry $5 off of your entire meal? Might you feel a bit insulted? And finally, answer me this: how likely would you be to visit this restaurant again? And how likely would you be to share your horror story with all of your friends and family?

Guys, there's no excuse for this kind of amateur tomfoolery. For the sake of your future customers (for we will not be among them), we can only hope that you're taking action internally to address this incident with the individuals involved and use it as a vehicle for reviewing your customer service protocols, procedures, and training program.

Nicole at Teleflora said...

I'm very sorry you felt that way! I just thought you wanted an explanation of what may have happened. Our member florists always do their best and I wanted to share that certainty with you and ask for the opportunity to assist.

My apologies that my tone did not seem apologetic enough - it was certainly unintentional.

PD said...

I'm just gonna point out that an entire customer service transaction, including what the customer said and what they really thought and told their friends, just occurred NOT through the company's call center or even website, but on an *entirely separate* public and mostly obscure blog. i think this says something about the way future customer service may work and the forums where in that will happen.