It’s been hot in NYC lately. Very hot. So it’s time to buy some more dresses. But being the busy woman that I am, I don’t have a ton of time to go shopping. I decided to check out a few websites to see if anything caught my eye. I’ve never shopped at Bluefly.com, but a few friends have recommended it to me in the past. “Designer Clothing at Discount Prices.” Sounds pretty great to me.
As I was about 30 seconds into perusing the dresses, this dialog popped up:
I waited. And waited. No response. I took a shower and came back 15 minutes later. Still nothing. My Bluefly Personal Shopper never showed!
Now how’s that for bad customer experience…
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Shai Idelson says
This is a great example of a pretty good idea executed poorly.
A live chat with a personal shopper, customer support rep or whotever can actually be very helpful and create a delightful experience.
The problem is that many organizations are not sure how to classify this activity; is it a marketing activity or a customer support activity.
In my humble opinion, the vast majority of the companies we encounter on the web these days can be divided into three categories:
1. Those who view marketing as an investment, customer support as a cost and live chat as a customer support activity – this approach will create the worse user experience possible.
A live chat will be there but, either no one will answer or the live chat (often initiated by the user by clicking on an icon that will feature a lady with a headset) will be really a bot chat.
The feature is there because the company knows that other sites are doing it but they are not really willing to invest and put in an actual person (who will have to be paid) in order to do it right.
2. Those who view marketing as an investment, customer service as a cost and live chat as a marketing (or sales) activity.
These live chats will really be sales calls.
The rep will be very proactive and sometimes aggressive and will try to push a product on you.
I am not sure but they may be on commission in some of these cases.
The result – a neutral to negative experience; you are happy that someone is there but may not be happy with how you are being treated.
3. Organizations that treat marketing AND customer support as an investment and perceive live chat as a mix of both activities.
In this case, the experience is optimal, the rep will not try to push a product on the user but will be there to offer assistance in case one is needed.
I have had wonderful experiences with a couple of snowboarding sites where the live chat rep and myself started talking about products but quickly went on to talk about mountains, parks and other things that snowboarders talk about.
It was clear that the company the rep worked for did not measure his work in “time per call” or in “calls per sale”.
That showed and I came back later to these sites to buy what I needed.
With that said, I believe that the case of Bluefly demonstrates two things:
1. Blufly sites somewhere between the first two categories
2. It may be just a case of a rep not getting an indication that a user wants to chat until the user actually types something and in which case, a clear disconnect exists between those who wrote the copy and those who programmed the feature.
Keep up the great work, this blog ROCKS
Thank you for sharing this information.
I find the whole idea of a chat pop up that appears in the middle of your screen a total annoyance. Who that is online doesn’t know how to shop online?
JCrew has recently started this, and it’s going to cause me to stay off their website, the way I’ve now become accustomed to totally avoiding bluefly.com.