Omni-Channel To Omni-Fail: 3 typical omni-channel fails during a Christmas purchase


It’s 21 December. The time I started thinking about Christmas gifts. Every year, the same story : too busy at work, thinking you have all the time in the world until it’s almost too late.

Not to worry… these days online retailers deliver the same day or the next day.. so I started my discovery on the web and came across a side table I knew would WOW my mother. I wanted to purchase it online through a local home decoration retailer because the delivery range was 2 days. Nice service, right on time for me!

But finishing up the purchase, to my surprise, they added a 10€ delivery fee to the purchase.


Fail 1:  the table costs 120€, it would be delivered within a 20Km radius from the central warehouse and even then, the retailer forwarded the delivery costs to me, their potential customer. I’m what you would call a global shopper, the internet is my shopping street. I purchase items in US, China, etc. through online shops and market places sometimes products as low as a couple of euros. In 9/10 of the cases these providers never charge me delivery costs, it’s all free delivery these days, isn’t it. So for me paying 10€ extra was not what I expect from a customer-centric experience point of view, especially when I knew the warehouse was that close to my home.

The benefit for me: as it’s a retailer with physical stores not far from where I live, I decided to go the store and buy that same table over there, easy and fast. So I jumped in my car, taking my wife and daughter with me, and we went on a 15Km trip to the store. My wife had the bright idea to go with me to see if the table was in a perfect state especially because we didn’t want to give a costly damaged gift to my mother.

Once arrived we immediately searched for the same table and wanted to purchase it..


Fail  2: When asking the nice lady in the store if we could buy and see a table on stock and take it with us, that wasn’t possible. They only had 1 showroom model which wasn’t available for purchase. We could order it in the shop itself, but we had to wait for 1 week for the table to be delivered to the shop, it wasn’t even possible to send it to my home and within 2 day time range that they provide online. The only option that I had left was order it online through the website and pay the 10€ delivery fee.. That really blew my mind.

Ok, I’m a digital transformation consultant, I advise my clients to provide top notch digital customer-centric services and processes. That’s what I do every day,  so maybe my level of experience expectations are a bit too high compared to “normal” consumers. I then turned to my wife, asking : “do you think this is a good service?” but also she was dazzled with this strange fact. She wanted to leave immediately. Which we did.

But as Christmas was knocking on the door and I really needed a present, I decided to order it online and pay for the extra 10€. In the back of my head : thinking it was the last time I bought something from that company ever again.


Fail 3: it’s Christmas day, time to unpack the presents.. everybody is excited. My mother opened up her gift, seeing the smile on her face, gave me a good feeling about the purchase. Even with the bad experiences described above. So far so good. But then I saw my mother looking at the table, to my surprise it was damaged.. grrrr.

Time to act.. I’ve learned an important and surprising fact: When a customer shouts the hardest, he is helped faster and better than a well-behaved and obedient customer. For some reason that always helps: complaining, escalating, threatening, writing complaint mails etc. (recognize this? )

You could call it: “the journey of the biggest bully”.

When that happens, a ( mostly informal ) process is triggered within that company and the complaint gets escalated to a certain power level who demands a fast solution for that customer who isn’t happy, because no manager wants detractors (from an Net promoter score point of view) on their monthly KPI’s. Cost, current workload, internal guidelines and operational processes are then of inferior importance, just get that complaining customer of our backs!

So that’s what I did, I went for the bully approach. I’m not proud of it.. and I would have appreciated a consistent and qualitative customer experience much more, but necessity is the mother of invention.

I first wrote a customer complaint email through their support channels, I waited a day and then I called customer service, demanding power level access for more effect and started my complaint, I threatened to use social media to tell my story to the world etc., it wasn’t pretty, I can tell you. But as I suspected, my story got answered, fast.  … And how .. It seemed that they could not deliver a replacement as it was out of stock due to high purchases in the holiday season. But they offered me a more expensive model, would pick up the damaged table and deliver the new table within 1 day at my mother’s doorstep at no cost.

No isn’t that a superior bully service..


If you think about the outcome for that company:

Wouldn’t it have been easier, better on the long term and less expensive, just to think about their omnichannel experience more than 2 seconds. Creating a seamless off- and online experience, putting experience before marginal costs along the complete customer journey and trying to create a WOW effect that would turn me into an ambassador advocating their brand online to other potential buyers, and also purchasing most of my furniture from them..

All they got now : the cost for them had tripled : a damaged table that they could not sell, a new more expensive table for free and extra delivery costs, an unhappy customer spreading negative comments and a forever lost customer.


Vincent Defour

Digital transformation expert

M +32 495 45 75 71

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