Celebrity Experience or Customer Experience ?

I have been a Big Basketeer long before Shah Rukh Khan became one… and its anyway quite a stretch to imagine that the King of Bollywood actually orders his own groceries, fruits and vegetables !!! But anyway, he promotes it and the promoters of Big Basket are burning big money for his endorsement. As a regular customer of Big Basket in four cities, here’s a commoner’s experience –

I was introduced to Big Basket by Vidya in 2012 at Bangalore. For the 16 months that we lived in Bangalore, I kept ordering and except once when the fruit was rotten, and they credited my wallet immediately – every order was fulfilled without any mistakes. The only challenge I faced in Bangalore is something unique to Bangalore – the delivery boys asking for directions every single time, but cab drivers do that in Bangalore so it was no surprise. It didn’t make me feel good though.

They were available only in Bangalore at that time. Then I saw adverts saying they are also available in Gurgaon. I was thrilled and started ordering from them again…. the first challenge I faced way back in 2015 was the peeled Sambar Onions were actually small onions partially peeled ! I didn’t bother too much since it was North India and they probably didn’t know the difference :).

More recently after Shah Rukh decided to be a Big Basketeer, suddenly they goofed up a major order of mine for Rs. 1500+. We had just gotten back to Gurgaon in Oct 2016 after our Yatra and I had to restock the provisions. The order never arrived and when I called their customer service, they confused my order with someone else’s. I canceled the order, got the refund and didn’t place any fresh orders for some time because their van stopped coming to Ridgewood Estate. While we would go out for our morning walks, we would always see the Big Basket van doing the rounds and we didn’t see them for quite some time. Then I got curious and ordered some stuff… it did arrive but the 90 minute, express delivery was troublesome. Finally the Big Basket van started making the rounds, but far lesser than earlier and most importantly without the Big Basket logo … pray, why?? I still dont know.

In Hyderabad – I have ordered just twice and had to give directions for nearly 15 minutes … I just gave up and didn’t order again.

Chennai has been interesting. The address was a nightmare last year, but in the last 45 days except once, we haven’t got a call asking us for directions. In one of the orders I ended up getting a packet of Baby corn instead of Pineapple …. and here’s the customer experience bit. I put in my feedback on the app three times, started giving one star as my rating and finally got a call from their customer service team after a week, ONLY when I wrote angrily to them saying “dont ask for feedback if you are going to do nothing with it”.

This is where the celebrity experience and the customer experience diverges completely and its a deep valley of indifference that separates them. All services companies must review their customer experience … its no big deal to get a celebrity to endorse your service and fool a few people to buy from you. But if the customer experience sucks, well, business will suck soon. While am all for startups doing well and getting VC/angel funding – I find many of the startups burning cash on celebrity endorsements while not fixing their processes and services.

Yet another example of bad customer experience happened a couple of weeks back – there is a “Fresh” outlet that I would frequent to buy some provisions in Pallikaranai, Chennai. They would accept PayTM payments by asking me for my cellphone number and charging me using the one time password. The only thing is they have the slowest people manning their cash counters and check out lines will always be deep and long… A couple of weeks back, I walked in and bought some stuff, waited in line and gave the stuff for billing. The PayTM scan code was displayed so I thought I just need to scan it and be on my way. The girl at the counter told me, no the cellphone system was not working and they dont know how to use the scan code … I was super irritated because I was already delayed standing in the queue and then to be told that somebody placed those codes and we aren’t trained to use them was really unpleasant. I didn’t buy anything and have never gone back to that store ! Again – the process failed to generate a positive customer experience. The brand “Fresh” is strong and they have good stocking..but the billing process has lost them a customer.

My third experience is with an international organisation that I truly respect – Amazon. I am an Amazon fan for nearly nine years now. They have never ever let me down in customer experience except just a few days back. I had ordered a shoulder pulley to fix my frozen shoulder and it was to be delivered the next day. I saw that the order had been processed and it was on its way. It didn’t reach me till 9.30 pm so we shut things down and went to sleep. Just when I was about to slip into deep sleep the bell rang and the Amazon delivery person was standing there with the shoulder pulley. Yes, they kept their promise of next day delivery, but really, waking me up at 10.40 pm to deliver it is bad customer experience. I share this to highlight the fact that customer experience is a science and its important to get it right. Keeping promises at the cost of irritating the customer doesn’t work for customer experience. Even a great customer service organization like Amazon misses!

Customer delight and service recovery are tools of the past … in the fast paced world where instant gratification is the need of the hour, customer experience is king. Get it right, and reap the benefits. Get it wrong, and shut down business. The customer doesn’t have time for you to deliver a service recovery. So be nimble and in touch with your customer and let every step of your processes be designed keeping the customer experience in mind. And customers – your experience will be vastly different from the celebrity experience :):).

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