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When Customer Service Goes Wrong

Lululemon takes a swing and a miss.

At one point or another, all of us have gone through it. We’ve had a frustrating customer experience and had to brace ourselves for speaking with customer service.

Just scroll through your Facebook feed and you are bound to find a story of a customer-service experience gone wrong. My experience was no different. Still, I saw this as an opportunity to share some alternative thoughts about this familiar experience.

The situation was confusing to begin with. I placed an order on the Lululemon website, put in my shipping address and eagerly awaited my items. Then, two days past the expected delivery date, nothing had arrived. Why? A FedEx notification said wrong address, package returned.

I went to the online chat, figuring the solution would be simple: cancel the order, place a new order and become one more satisfied Lululemon customer.

At first, the conversation seemed to move in that direction.

Kelly-Ann: Hi there, how’s your day going?
Nick Powills: Great how’s yours
Nick Powills: My order was returned for some reason
Nick Powills: I wanted to get it resent to my office to be safe
Kelly-Ann: Oh no! I'm sorry to hear that. I would love to look into this for you. Can you confirm your full name, email and shipping address please?
Nick Powills: Nick Powills, [email protected], the shipping address was ---- ---- ------
Kelly-Ann: Thank you for that confirmation. I will need 4-5 minutes to look into this for you.
Nick Powills: ok
Kelly-Ann: Thank you.

At this point in the conversation, Lulu was setting itself up for a great customer experience. Kelly-Ann was going to make my day easy, or so it seemed.


Kelly-Ann: I do see why it was having issues in the shipping process. It was showing that the shipping address was incorrect and not complete. That is why they are returning the gear back to us. The shipping address on this order is 130 E Randolph St Ste 1950, Chicago , IL , 60601.

Interesting, I thought, they shipped to the exact right address. Wonder what happened.

Nick Powills: 130 E randolph is the right address
Kelly-Ann: We are aware that some guests are receiving follow up emails showing that the tracking is going to the billing address. I do apologize for that confusion. It was in fact supposed to be delivered to the shipping on the order, which was 130 E Randolph St Ste 1950, Chicago , IL, 60601.

OK, great, I thought. Kelly-Ann realized there was some odd, unexplained mistake, and now it was time to fix it. Then things headed south.

Nick Powills: yes thats the right address
Nick Powills: so, can we have the order sent there?
Kelly-Ann: Once it has been received by our warehouse it will be shipped back to the correct address. Please allow 8-12 business days for return processing and an additional 2-7 for re-shipment.
Nick Powills: anything we can do to make it get here faster?
Nick Powills: since i put in the right address?
Kelly-Ann: If I could speed up the timeline for you, I would, but this is our timeline for returns back to the warehouse.
Nick Powills: seems odd since it was your (not you, your company's mistake).
Nick Powills: can’t you ship a new order and keep the one you sent

I wait about 5 minutes with no reply from Kelly-Ann. Perhaps she was checking with a manager. Perhaps she was overwhelmed. Perhaps she didn’t know what to do. So, I gave her an out.

Nick Powills: what can you do to make this right?
Kelly-Ann: I understand your frustration, we do not offer a complimentary order to be shipped to you as we have not received the returning order. Once it returns to our warehouse we will ship it back to you. It was not delivered as the FedEx tracking is showing Incorrect address - Apartment/Suite number. Is there anything else I can assist you with today?
Nick Powills: you had the suite number
Nick Powills: you shipped it to the wrong address
Nick Powills: you are asking me to wait until march to receive the packaged that was supposed to be here in February (ACTUALLY FEBRUARY 1)
Nick Powills: there must be another solution

Not seeing a solution forthcoming, I decided to provide my own.

Nick Powills: how about you ship out the same items to the right address that was provided today so it gets here in a few days
Nick Powills: then your warehouse can hold on to the items
Kelly-Ann: • 130 E Randolph St Ste 1950, Chicago , IL , 60601, is this not the correct address you used for your order?
Nick Powills: that is the correct address
Nick Powills: which has the suite
Nick Powills: what’s incomplete about that address?
Nick Powills: on my order, it says you shipped to that address
Nick Powills: and then you didnt

We are still not connecting. Kelly-Ann is not replying. 

And then, this:

Kelly-Ann: I am saying there was a tracking glitch showing it was going to billing. Only showing, it was in fact on route to the shipping address I have already provided. It was on route to the correct shipping, where it was then returned back to us.
Kelly-Ann: It seems as though we are going in circles, if there is nothing else I can support you with, I will be disconnecting the chat.
Nick Powills: i am looking for you to make it right
Nick Powills: how hard is that

And then Kelly-Ann disconnected. Customer service terminated the interaction without making it right.

I don’t know if it is a training gap. I don’t know if it is the result of outsourcing. Whatever the cause of the problem, I was the one left with the bad experience. 

In February, I think people were fairly forgiving for these kinds of lapses in customer service. In an economy where things are going well, we can afford some hiccups. But when things get turbulent, as they have since, customers aren’t going to forget who did them right and who did them wrong. And that’s where the Kelly-Anns of the world will really impact the sales of their businesses.