Too Much, Too Late

I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve written about customer service issues in the last month, but the various sagas are not over. This week Office Depot appeared again after I’d pretty much written them off. They keep trying, having realized a bit too late that they had lost my business.

I might not have even noticed this, but money’s tight this month, so I’ve been checking my balance to make sure I didn’t run out of money. A bit to my surprise, my balance went up when I was pretty certain I hadn’t deposited anything. It turned out that Office Depot refunded me for the entire file cabinet purchase. Unexpected, welcome, and–call me stiff-necked–too much, too late.

Honestly, I hadn’t wanted a refund. Nor did I want a second file cabinet, which a driver attempted to deliver to me a couple of days after I’d gotten the correct cabinet. What I’d wanted at the time was the correct cabinet to be delivered to me expeditiously with a minimum of hassle. Because Office Depot couldn’t manage that (and sent a couple of halfhearted apologies as a response), I vented my feelings about their service operation and moved on with my life after finally receiving the correct cabinet. The full refund was, again, unexpected, and too late. Thanks to whoever made the ol’ college try, but I have already moved on. Staples is about the same distance away.

Customer service lesson: This is an expensive one to learn because if your customer has left due to your organization’s poor handling of a business transaction, there’s very little you can do to win back their confidence or their business. So if you do make that last-ditch effort at considerable expense and the customer still says they’re done, you’re out the money spent on the recovery plus whatever future money the customer might have spent patronizing your business.

The best thing to do once it becomes clear that your heroic last recovery efforts have failed is to review the lessons learned–and there were plenty in this episode–do some corporate soul searching, and figure out what you can do to prevent the same circumstances that drove away that client from happening to other customers in the future. That was the point of these various blogs, and I hope the message finally gets through to someone at the Office Depot corporate offices. Sometimes it’s not about the money, it’s about the service.

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About Bart Leahy

Freelance Technical Writer, Science Cheerleader Event & Membership Director, and an all-around nice guy. Here to help.
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