Hubby-head and I used to be fans of what's known as the Darwin Awards, commemorating people who contribute to Darwin's theory of natural selection by removing themselves from the gene pool in a particularly stupid way.
I'm beginning to think that there needs to be a similar type of award for people who create their own customer service nightmare.
I won't deny that there are boneheaded moves and legitimate errors made on the part of my company's employees now and then - we're all human, and MOP#1 (we're #1, yay!) is not immune from human error, or even computer glitches. Often when people call in with a particularly sticky problem it is our fault, as they dearly love to point out. And I've already talked about the fun that can result when one's doctor makes an error... But sometimes, people, you really can't blame us.
This past week, my candidate for the title of Customer Service Enemy #1 was a gentleman who apparently has never heard what happens when you assume.
As I recall, the customer was in his seventies: old enough to pull off "crotchety" rather well. The call started out as a pretty standard "where is my order" inquiry - what the head of our call center operation likes to refer to as a "WIMO" call. It ended up with myself and a very unlucky pharmacist helplessly laughing at our rotten luck to be the ones to get stuck with this guy.
As is my requirement when someone calls for order status, I asked the gentleman to confirm the best telephone number to reach him - which was the number we had on file. I then asked him if he could recall what medications were on the order, to which he replied that he'd mailed in several prescriptions in mid-August, including his insulin. I saw in my order history list the most recent order number was dated around 8/24, and included 4 or 5 items, so I checked my shipment screen and saw that there was a ship date of 9/8.
Since insulin has to be kept refrigerated, we always ship it overnight at our cost, packaged with ice packs. This order therefore was delivered on 9/9 - and our customer didn't yet have it on Friday, 9/10. Hmmm.
At this point I read off the shipping address to the customer, who proceeded to blow his top. "I've moved!" he shouted. "I already gave you people my new address!"
I checked in the account addresses screen, and saw only the one address we'd used for the order in question. I checked in the call tracking program and saw no history of him having called in the last two months. I got his new address and put it in the system nonetheless, and inactivated the previous address. I looked at a scanned image of the order he sent in, and informed him that the reason the order was shipped to that address is that it was pre-printed on his order form, and if the information had changed since the previous order, he would have needed to write it in the top section of the form.
And then he told me that the address was correct when he placed the order.
Back up a minute here... "When did you send the order?" I asked him. Apparently he'd dropped the form in the mail on August 19th. With an intervening weekend and the vagaries of the U.S. Postal Service, the order wasn't received and scanned in at our processing facility until August 24th - which isn't all that fast, but certainly not out of the realm of normal.
Our normal processing time for mailed in orders is between 3 and 7 business days from the date the order is received - and although we are working 24/7, we do not count weekends as business days because there are often issues that require review or assistance from people who only work Monday through Friday, not the least of which are doctors' offices. Seven processing days would have put the order out the door on September 2nd, but there was actually a bit if a delay because we had to contact his doctor's office for clarification on something, and the fax failed the first time... we tried a couple more times, and then there was a holiday weekend, and then we tried again on 9/7, the doctor got back to us on 9/8, and we finished the order and shipped the package the same day.
But our customer, who is always right, moved cross-country on September 2nd (which by the way means that even if there hadn't been a processing delay, he may not have been there to receive the package). And now his medication is sitting in a box in his old garage in Hilton Head, South Carolina, while he's sitting in New Mexico ranting at me that we screwed up.
Oh, but he mailed a change of address card to our parent company. He gave "us" the new address, it's all our fault. I tried to explain to him that sending in a change of address card to the company that owns our pharmacy does not mean that the changed address would get into our system and be put on his order that was already in process, but by this point it was all academic. It is what it is (what it is), and the elderly gent still needed his medication, rather more desperately by this point.
So I called our customer service pharmacists, who sit around in their little cubicles all day and answer calls from customer service reps, often transferring prescriptions out to local pharmacies or providing counseling to customers who want to know what this pill is for or whether the fatigue or itching they're experiencing is due to one of their medications. What a life, eh? These pharmacists also get to make the call about whether we are able to re-send a package of medication that was damaged or lost in transit.
Pharmacist Simon was my unlucky victim that call, and he was rather baffled at our customer's behavior. I mean, when you think about it - if you knew you were moving 1600 miles away in exactly two weeks, would you mail in an order to be shipped to your current address? And if you did, for whatever reason, would you not bother to call in at any time before you packed up and left to see whether it had been shipped or make sure the new address was put on the order?
Finally, unable to wrap his head around the magnitude of our customer's boneheadedness, he decided to do what I did, and put that issue aside to focus on the problem at hand: the man still needed his meds, and even if there was a way to retrieve the box from the garage it had been left in by the delivery man, the insulin was already not going to be usable. And as I was assured by the customer, there was nobody who could go get that box for him and forward it along. We were going to have to resend the whole shootin' match - over $1400 worth of medication.
Pharmacist Simon was not thrilled about having his name attached to the decision to cost our company over $1400, by the way. Some medications are exceedingly inexpensive, but diabetic supplies tend to be a bit pricey, and he had 3 or 4 other items in that package in addition to his insulin.
So we both shook our heads and laughed a little rueful "why me?" laugh, and with his approval I put in a request to resend the package to the new address in New Mexico. With a signature requirement, to make abso-100%-lutely sure he got it this time.
Mr. New Mexico, you are your own worst enemy.