Let me start by saying that my family loves to shop at Kohl’s Department Stores. They love just about everything about the store. The prices are great, the selection of brand name things is awesome and their rebate programs of Kohl’s Cash and “Yes2You” Rewards are almost unbeatable. They also have good deals online, which is where this story begins.
With the holidays in full swing, my wife purchased several presents online from Kohl’s, with the expectation that she would receive the Yes2You reward points. About a week after making the purchases, she checked her account and could not find that the reward points were to be credited to her account. So daughter Emily called Kohl’s customer service on Wednesday to inquire on Joanne’s behalf. It turns out that somehow, the Yes2You rewards card she has is different than the account that is connected to her online account.
After talking with the customer service reps for 22 minutes, Emily came to the realization that the person on the other end of the phone did not understand the issue, much less how to solve it. To us the solution was simple; move the points from one account to the other, and then close the first account. Apparently neither the issue nor the solution on the other end was as simple. The conversation was difficult, with neither party able to gain an understanding of the other. Emily grew tired and decided to try again later.
Later was Monday night, and I was around to hear part of the conversation. Emily had her phone on speaker while a different customer service rep tried to understand and solve our problem. Again, there seemed to be a lack of understanding as they went back and forth trying solve the problem. As an outsider, both the problem and the solution we wanted seemed fairly simple. But then Emily was suddenly placed on hold. Surprise! When a still different customer service rep picked up after a few minutes, Emily had about reached the end of her patience. She decided not to explain it to the 3rd rep in 2 calls, she immediately asked for a supervisor.
Instead of being transferred, she was questioned why she wanted a supervisor. When she told the story, the rep refused to transfer her, insisting that he could resolve the issue. He couldn’t and Emily asked again for a supervisor and was placed on hold, for a long time. Finally she got a recorded message stating a list of options, which included “zero to talk to a customer service representative”. Zero got her back to the same recorded message and an infinite voice mail loop.
As small business owners and managers we typically do not have these same problems as with call centers. But we do have customers that come to us with their problems, and it is our job to make sure that we have the staff that can make those problems go away. It sounds cliché that problems are really opportunities to give great service and solidify customer relationships. It is an easy way we can beat the larger companies that might have lower costs or a wider selection. But we have to invest in the people and training to make it happen every day.
Emily finally gave up after 47 frustrating minutes, and hung up from Kohl’s customer service. Later she went on to Kohl’s Facebook page and registered her frustration. Kohl’s did respond offering a live chat session. But nobody answered Emily’s chat request. What she did get later was a response stating that her problem should be solved by a quick call to their customer service. I guess we will just keep trying…