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What I ordered VS what I got – Beyond the memes

There is no day that goes by that I do not see a picture mix of two seemingly identical products. It has become a huge part of social media humour, we send it to each other, it goes viral, and then tomorrow’s edition comes out from yet another dissatisfied buyer. A buyer’s worst nightmare turns a source of momentary humour on the internet, and subsequently a barrage of horrible reviews and trolling for an online business.

I’ll attempt to paint a scenario for those who might not be too familiar with the phenomenon. You see something on a mega online store or a small Instagram store/business. The photograph that attracts you is usually well lit, lovely background, sometimes has a good looking model wearing it, holding it or eating it. You think “Oh my God I HAVE to have that immediately”. You place an order, make payment, and patiently await delivery. Delivery man shows up, you open the package and you can usually tell from the first sight that you most likely just threw away money. Sometimes you actually have to wear it before you realise the error in your ways. Now depending on your personality, temperament and cost of purchase, this is either followed with weeping and gnashing of teeth, intense laughter, or pure rage.

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Like everyone else, these posts make me laugh. I personally get extra cracked up with the clothing or cake versions of these because those can go exceptionally wrong. This however points to a bigger issue. If you are unable to deliver what you promised in the way it was promised then the first step in ensuring great customer experience.

So many factors are responsible for this dissatisfaction. They may include one or all of the following.
– False Advertising – There are several online courses dedicated to encouraging sellers to put their best foot forward. This can often lead to entirely advertising a false image or condition of the brand.

– Copy and Paste Internet pics (False representation)- In this case, it’s like selling a black shoe and then going on the internet, typing “BLACK SHOE” in the search engine and then showing off anything that comes from it.

– Overly edited product pictures – Lighting is EVERYTHING. Angles too. With the right manipulation of both, humans show themselves in the best possible way. Same can be done for products. A little filter here and there, and voila!

– Dishonest Seller – This is an ethical and morals issue. Some have morals, some don’t. Lack of integrity might lead to turning a shopping site into a scam location.

– Damage during production or logistics (delivery) – This is usually of no fault of the manufacturer or seller. Logistics companies, especially Last-mile bike operators have been known to treat merchandise shabbily, resulting in damage and making the product lose its original state.
Having a “What I Ordered vs What I Got” scenario play out for your goods and services is obviously not a desirable outcome. However it can be a lesson in processes and can give you a great opportunity to correct some existent gaps in your business and marketing process. These are some steps to ensure that it doesn’t happen again, or to ensure it doesn’t happen at all, if you have been lucky to avoid it so far.

– Usually the disgruntled customer will reach out to you first, before going ahead to broadcast the failure. Try everything you can to pacify the customer and offer reparations in forms of a discount, a part-refund, or a total replacement.

– In the event that the customer goes ahead to release pictures and videos regardless of your attempts to resolve the situation, respond to the situation via a public statement expressing your regrets and apologies, detailing your efforts to also repair the damage and get back into the customer’s good graces.

– After the incident dies down (which it will), engage in extra self-promotion. Show more evidence of past good jobs, client reviews and customer survey results. With viral situations, a certain level of notoriety is usually gained regardless. There is no such thing as bad publicity. Use the new found “fame” to your advantage. Where most people get it wrong is that they refuse to apologise and take responsibility. If you are able to this, trust will be rebuilt, and your business will be better for it.

A breakdown in customer service is to be expected from time to time. Unfortunately you are not able to determine the scale. You can however do what is within your control, which is respond with grace, compassion, and speed.

Oluchi Okafor is a customer experience consultant and has trained and consulted for over 100 SMEs on how to improve their processes, retain happier customers and deliver great experiences every time. She is also the General Manager at Multimix Academy, Nigeria’s foremost supply chain management institute.

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