Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Dear Office Depot.... Get a clue!!

So... My wife orders some Kodak Photo Paper from OfficeDepot.com. They are always one of Internet Retailer's top X00 Online Retailers. They've been featured in articles about how they want to create multi-channel customers... so you would expect that at this point, there shouldn't be any issues with returning something you bought online, to your neighborhood store.

Uhh... wrong.

It seems that my wife needed a different-sized photo paper than she ordered. We were near our Office Depot in Kirkwood, MO last week, so she went in to exchange the paper she bought. When we went to the counter... you'd have thought that we asked to have all of the money out of the safe. My wife HAD her online receipt AND packing list. She asked if she could get credit for the paper, and pay the difference for the new paper. We were greeted by "did you call the 800 number first? I don't know if I can take your return." Call the 800 number? What... isn't this Office Depot? That's what the sign says outside... uhhhh... NO we didn't call the 800 #. So, after speaking with a manager, and seeing that in fact they DID recognize the SKU (I suggested to the clerk that she try scanning the bar code on it and VIOLA! it was there!!!) my wife was able to pick out other paper, charge her firm's Office Depot Card, and we left. The whole process should have taken 5 minutes.... it took 35 minutes. And, not only were WE held up, but the poor 5 people behind us were waiting much longer than they needed to as well.

The moral of the story here is simple: Systems can be in place (and at this point are EXPECTED to be by your customer). The best email marketing campaign can be rolling. You can have a wonderfully effective search marketing campaign. You can call yourself "multi-channel" all you
desire. But, if you don't execute at the store level, it is all for nothing. Multi-channel is not a marketing campaign, it is a coordinated, brand-driven way of doing business. If it is NOT in your organizations' DNA, you're NOT going to make believers out of your customers.

Maybe the loyalty findings about Multi-channel customers have less to do with their price-sensitivity, and more about the "leaders" in multi-channel retailing executing like Office Depot did. Just a thought.

As an aside, on the same trip, we returned some coffee mugs purchased from Target.com that were broken in shipping. Not only did the clerk at the return desk know about the whole situation from the packing slip we had, but we were allowed to KEEP the 2 unbroken mugs. Total time in Target, 5 minutes. Maybe the folks at Office Depot need to take a little trip to Minneapolis to see how this whole Multi-Channel thing is done.

Love to hear your take on it. Comment or MEEBOME.

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