Customer First for Flipkart — Managing ‘Unreason-abillity’ of expectations (1/2)

Business managers or customer service/experience managers speak in volumes and very loudly about ‘exceeding customer expectations’.

Fairly so!

What is also important is to know that once the ‘expectations’ have been ‘exceeded’ it is expected for the customers to hope for that to be the new ‘normal’. Then the only option that is left with the company is to live up to the new ‘normal’ which is ‘exceeding it always’.

A lot easier said than consistently done!

Case in point here is Flipkart. Following is a small narrative of a buying experience in last few days.

I have not been very regular in online shopping but whenever I have bought anything online it has been from Flipkart. I started using it 2009 because my friends strongly endorsed the excellent service and before time delivery. Anything that I ordered then was delivered to me before the quoted delivery date. I mean always! Until this last time…

30th August 2014, Saturday: I love music and, being a weekend, this was the day when I was experimenting with new music. I downloaded a DJ software and I decided to buy a new pair of headsets too. My friend decided to talk about Tomorrowland too on the same day! I was excited, obviously!

I ordered it at around noon and Flipkart promptly said that it will be delivered to me by 3rd September 2014. I chose to pay the entire amount rather than going for ‘cash on delivery’ (a decision which I am doubting now). Given my past experiences and of those around me, I couldn't help but read that as 2nd September for the definite delivery of the item.

Order confirmation Screen

30th August 2014, Saturday: Given my sentiments and emotions attached to the purchase, I was tracking the progress every hour. Call it ‘stupid’ but that’s how it was! I was glad to see that the item had been dispatched at 6:13 pm on the same day.

Item dispatch from the seller

My hopes were alive of receiving it on or before 2nd September. ☺

30th August 2014, Saturday: All on the same day, I see another update where the item was dispatched to the logistics company Delhivery (another start-up)

(Meanwhile, I did not stop tracking the order every minute!) ☺

31st August 2014, Sunday: I checked again and was glad to see that it had been shipped and had been received in Thane by Delhivery. This was early in the morning, a little before 6 am.

Since it was a Sunday, I kept on debating if it will move on that day or not. I spent the day reasoning to myself the causes for and against it.

Unfortunately for me, there wasn't a movement on this day. I was fine with it since everybody needs a day off!

Meanwhile I was given a tracking number which was referring to Delhivery.

Tracking number from Delhivery

As a person who has been educated in ‘business’, I asked following questions,

  1. “Although I knew about Delhivery, it still is a small company as compared to the established and known ones like FedEx or Bluedart. Why would Flipkart take the risk of introducing a new logistics company to its customers? Many won’t even know what is ‘Delhivery’ and how to use that information!! They can hit-and-try and click on the hyper link to know that perhaps, they are ones bringing your purchase.”
  2. “I have made the purchase from Flipkart. In case of delay, should I be calling Flipkart or Delhivery? For me should it still not be Flipkart’s ownership?”
  3. “I trusted Flipkart to make the purchase not their partner!”

and some more…

1st September 2014, Monday: After no further movement on Sunday, I was delighted to see some movement on Monday and that was at 7 am. ☺

(though it was still in Mumbai)

But then it was received in Delhi on the same day evening. ☺

Shipment received in Delhi

I had little reasons to doubt that it will be delivered on the next day which was the 2nd September. I wasn't too disappointed. Still tracking the order almost every hour (like an idiot!).

2nd September 2014, Tuesday:

All I did was to track the order and (non-productively)call up Delhivery customer service. The shipment remained where it was. ☹

status since last 36 hours

Meanwhile, Flipkart had nothing more to do with it. Their tracking page only has a link that takes you to Delhivery page.

I still have no doubt that that the item will be delivered on 3rd September but as an ‘unreasonable’ customer I was hoping for a day’s delay to be eliminated’

I decided to just share my views on Twitter for this.

Now the last reply (early morning) says that the shipment is in transit to the nearest location hub but Delhivery shows no change.

Should it not have said that ‘dispatched from Delhi hub at whatever time’??

My worry increased because in last couple of days a few more friends pointed out increasing delays from Flipkart. Which never used to be normal.

I am still not too worried about my purchase (although I am very keenly looking forward to get it asap!) but isn't this a game of only customer service.

I don’t even have to mention the competition from the global companies and some of the very rich corporate houses.

Having gone through this, I will be inclined to try another service next time. Isn’t it a fine line (however ‘unreasonable’!)?

Unless we have reasons enough to ignore ‘unreasonable’ expectations (which ‘have been’ and ‘can be’ managed), can a service like this afford to do so?

I can only ask questions… it’s on you to raise funds and decide where you invest. Shareholders value is an outcome of customer experience.

Just saying… ☺

(I published this post on 3rd September morning thinking that nothing could stop me from getting my order delivered today! I surely was wrong… so I decided to complete the experience in another (next) post.)

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