Recently, I bought a new appliance at Lowe’s, primarily because it was featuring a number of rebates that drastically reduced the price compared to its competitors. The customer service was also excellent. After receiving my gift card in the mail, I was dismayed to discover that I had been shorted $25. I spent a few days upset about this shortage, thinking that I had been duped.
A week later, I e-mailed the Lowe’s rebate center through the Lowe’s web site. The return e-mail was not from Lowe’s but from Young America, which provides promotion fulfillment for companies on the web, including rebates, premiums and sweepstakes.
The e-mail from Young America said I had already received my rebate. Unfortunately, Young America was referring to a second rebate that I had indeed received. I responded with another e-mail, explaining once again which rebate I was referring to. (Don’t you hate it when they don’t really read your e-mail that does have all the details?)
I waited a few more weeks and then decided to contact Lowe’s customer service directly. I received an immediate response that my message was being sent to the manager of the rebate center. A few days later, I finally received another e-mail saying that my $25 gift card was on its way.
Despite the excellent customer service at the Lowe’s store itself, I ended up feeling cheated by Lowe’s until I realized the glitch was with the partnership with Young America. If I hadn’t pursued the missing $25 gift card amount, I might have stopped shopping at Lowe’s. It’s the little things that make a difference. (Home Depot, by the way, is closer.)
The Young America web site says that “Customer fulfillment is what happens when marketing programs are executed so well and so consistently, with so much value added at every opportunity, that the entire customer experience is elevated and the relationship with your brand is deepened.” Considering that Young America did not respond to my second e-mail, my experience was dismissed not “elevated,” and Lowe’s brand was diminished not “deepened.”
If you partner with other vendors or outsource your services, are your partners living up to your customers’ expectations? I’ve reviewed our past experiences with vendors we use, and I have to admit there is at least one that I sincerely question our using in the future because the product was not up to our standard for our customers and cost us time to fix. Is it time to review your vendors or outsourced services before your customers make negative assumptions about your business?