Today’s post is a first hand experience by Joe’s wife Mindy. Her story highlights the need for consistency and uniformity on each interaction with customers.
We recently had an IKEA open about 15 miles up the road from us. Just like everyone else in the city of Austin, we made our obligatory trip to see what the big deal was and we came away adoring fans. What’s not to love? Their products are ingenious, the price is right, and the Swedish Meatball platter is worth the trip alone. (Joe would also tell you not to pass up the cinnamon rolls as you’re walking out the door.)
During our last trip to IKEA in April, I found the perfect fabric for curtains to finish off a recent minor kitchen remodel we’ve undergone. They were out of this particular fabric at the time of our visit, but assured me it would be replenished “in about two weeks.” That would put me into crunch time, as I had a book group to host, a visit from my parents, and my son’s second birthday right around the magic two week deadline. However, I asked if I could leave my phone number so they could call me when the fabric came in, and asked for their number and extension so I could check in with them as well.
So here’s the story: it’s now August. Still no fabric. I’ve called just about every week since April to check on the status and it’s almost become a game, because in the sixteen weeks that I’ve called, the standard answer has varied. I’ve heard plenty of the “two week” platitudes, have been hung up on, and have even found a couple of helpful customer service reps who patiently explained that the fabric I want is part of a “family” of fabrics and they have to sell out of an entire family before the fabric is replenished.
But here’s what I don’t understand. During one of my weekly calls, I was helped by a very customer-centric employee who checked the computer to find out what the stock level was and discovered there was a shipment due within the next week to be delivered to their store.
I never got a phone call telling me the fabric was in. In the subsequent calls since then, IKEA employees have reverted to telling me that they don’t have that fabric. So what’s the real story? Why would one employee be able to check the status when others claim they can’t access that information or that the computer doesn’t give them that information? Why should I feel like I’m playing Russian Roulette just to reach one competent employee on the phone?
The equations are simple:
consistency = trust and confidence
inconsistency = confusion and mistrust
Which would you rather impart to your customers?