In preparation for my forthcoming book, I had the honor of interviewing Rob Siefker, Director of the Customer Loyalty Team for Zappos. Rob told me a lot about Zappos values, and how those define their customer service model. It was a really fascinating conversation.
In mid-June, I decided to use a $75 promotion coupon from Google Adwords. I haven’t used Adwords for myself for a long time, and I’m frankly not convinced that it’s worth the spend for professional service companies (which I also discuss in the book). But since they’d sent me some free money, I thought I’d give it another try.
Not so fast! The experience that I had was so appalling, and such a polar opposite from what I’d heard from Rob, that I decided to write a compare and contrast piece.
What did I experience?
- I had an Adwords account linked to the one that I use for my Google Analytics, but it is blocked with the helpful message “Before you can access AdWords, the person who invited you needs to make sure the right person received and accepted the invitation.” I have no idea what this is about, so I called the new account support number to make it go away.
No go. The account representative told me that I had no alternative to opening a new account just for Adwords. She agreed that this is frustrating, and mentioned that she’d just finished helping someone with an equally annoying problem, which she also couldn’t do anything about.
So I asked her: “Can you at least give someone over there feedback about these issues so that your services can be improved?” She laughed ruefully . . .
Rob told me that Zappos always wants to know about their customers’ needs and expectations. They never want to be seen as having the attitude that people will buy from them anyway.
- Having created the new account, I attempted to enter my credit card details, which were declined 3 times. Meanwhile, it was close to 5pm when service closes, so the rep said: “I have to go now, but I will call you in the morning.”
I contacted my credit card company, which is thankfully still willing to speak to me after 5pm. They could see 3 authorization attempts from Google, each of which was accepted. There was nothing wrong with my card. I emailed the Google rep to let her know and asked her to call me in the morning as promised.
Zappos has 24/7 phone support. I asked Rob if people really do call at 3am, and he said: “A few do, and we want to be available.”
- Next day, Adwords was still reporting that my card was declined, so I called Support again, to be told that I could only deal with the rep who had been “helping” me. Four days later, I’ve had no response to voice mail or email to this person.
Rob told me that Zappos don’t give out phone extensions or email addresses for their team, because they want everyone to be able to help any customer, precisely so that the customer isn’t tied to one rep who might be unavailable.
I haven’t used my coupon, or spent any more money with Adwords because I can’t – and I can’t get anyone at Google to help me. Meanwhile, I’m still talking about my interview with Rob, and how he says that Zappos wants to “wow every customer in every situation.” I hear that Google’s share price and the spending on Adwords is dropping – perhaps they should study the Zappos model!
Update: On June 27th, I received a call from the Adwords rep. She wanted to help me select appropriate keywords. I told her that my credit card was still declined, and that I had given up on using the account. She had no access to my billing details, but promised to contact Customer Service, and to get back to me the next day.
As of July 10th, two weeks later, I have yet to hear from her again. Anyone surprised??