Overstock.com Makes it Right

On Tuesday, I wrote about my poor experience with Overstock.com. Much to his credit, Overstock.com’s CEO, Patrick Byrne is listening to his customers. He posted a comment apologizing for the mix-up and vowed to have someone contact me to make it right. In short order, I received a call from Overstock customer care manager, Lawrence Solis, who had already investigated the issue. Overstock made the situation right, and my wife and daughters received their hair iron yesterday.

As Mr. Solis and I discussed the situation of my order, we agreed that situations like this are opportunities to learn and improve. Here’s what Overstock.com did to resolve the issue – a pattern we can all learn from:

  • Respond quickly. Because Patrick Byrne was listening, he was able to respond immediately and get the wheels to resolution rolling.
  • Apologize. As I’ve said before, customers want two things – an apology and resolution. They go together like peanut butter and jelly. One without the other doesn’t satisfy completely. I received an apology and a commitment to resolve from both Mr. Byrne and Mr. Solis. They were off to a good start.
  • Take responsibility. They blew it. They knew it and I knew it. There was no shifting blame or making excuses. Mr. Solis very quickly took responsibility for the mistake on behalf of the company. I’d much rather have someone say, "We blew it – no excuses" than try to sugar coat it.
  • Make it right. It was quickly established that they were overnighting a hair-iron, at their expense, immediately. That’s resolution.
  • Learn from your mistakes. I was excited to hear Mr. Solis say that he documents breakdowns in the service delivery system, figures out what went wrong so it can be fixed, and then takes these examples into training so everyone can learn how to avoid them in the future. How do you improve? Learn from your mistakes instead of running from them.
  • Count the cost (and savings). Mr. Solis made an interesting statement. The value of discovering this problem in their operation and fixing it would, over time, save Overstock.com a lot of time, energy, headaches and money. He offered to credit me for the full amount of my purchase. It would cost me nothing. "It’s well worth it," he said. Customer expectation exceeded – company issue identified and (hopefully) fixed.
  • Invite the customer back. The last thing Mr. Solis did was to invite me back to do business with Overstock.com and express a desire to earn back my trust. I like doing business with companies who want to do business with me. With resolution like this, I’m more than happy to give them another chance.

Thanks for listening, Mr. Byrne.
Mr. Solis, thanks for providing a positive example of how to respond to a customer service blunder. It’s an example from which we can all learn.

Well done.

  6 comments for “Overstock.com Makes it Right

  1. Dan
    March 23, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    Holy cow! A real world, real-time clinic! It is weird. Last week, I wasn’t thinking at all about Overstock – three days ago, my opinion of them dropped because of your experience. Today – I’ve visited their site and will keep them in mind for the future.
    My takeaway? The customer can, and will change. Good companies see that as a positive opportunity for bottom-line growth. Bad companies see that as painful variable, or worse, as a figment of the marketing department’s imagination.

  2. March 23, 2007 at 1:57 pm

    Thanks for the comment, Dan. Isn’t it amazing how a little effort can go a long way to changing the way people think and speak about your company?

  3. March 23, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    In the book Selling the Invisible, the author makes the same point…you can make mistakes, but you can build a great brand by fixing the mistakes. It’s about the relationship, not the product or service.
    This is a great example of this concept in action. Thanks for sharing, Tom.
    It’s also a good sine that at least some organizations are monitoring the blogosphere to stay on top of developing situations.
    -Mark

  4. March 23, 2007 at 6:38 pm

    Good job, Mr. Squeaky Blogger…
    AC

  5. March 25, 2007 at 11:41 am

    Thanks Tom, for the consistently fair and firm way you keep issues out front for a healthy growth! How can we do more of this honest exchange in the interest of growing customer service – without bashing the business? Ideas?

  6. January 31, 2008 at 4:29 am

    This is great blog!! Overstock, a great shopping place throughout the world. You can find Overstock coupons, discounts on shipping, beauty products, watches, jewelry and more.

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