Chronicles of msadele

Welcome to my W O R L D

Customer Service Goes Beyond The Transaction

Good customer service doesn’t stop at the transaction. It goes way beyond .. in fact, it’s a continuous dialogue if you are interested in retaining your customer. 

As an avid online shopper I’ve contributed a significant amount of dollars to the sector over the years, having purchased from brand sites and marketplaces across several countries and always looking for the most cost effective solution. I’m generally not an impulse buyer. Yes, I do have some brand loyalty and in that case I can purchase within minutes. However, when I’m looking for a product/service that can be purchased over several medians at different prices, I do my homework. The process goes a little something like this:

  1. Search Google Shopping for the product. Google aggregates some instances of that product which is available for sale online, from both brand stores and marketplaces e.g., directly from Darty or Amazon.
  2. Review  cost comparison, warranty, delivery/shipping and refund terms. 
  3. Review online shop reviews (especially if it’s somewhere I have never bought from before).
  4. Go back and check the Search results from the first and second page as Google Shopping doesn’t capture everything. Very rarely do I go to page 3. The first page of search results can be weighed down by paid or sponsored advertising so a lot of sites are being pushed back to page 2. An entirely different subject but worth the mention.
  5. Walk away from my desktop or phablet and ponder i.e., think of other important items to check up on and search e.g, maybe an upcoming flash sale to take advantage of.
  6. Do the research.
  7. Eventually make a purchase and feel satisfied it was an educated one. No regrets.

So why am I mentioning this?

Because customers put a lot of effort into their shopping process both online and offline and they want to feel they can trust the business they have invested their personal resource in.

And why is it important for businesses to know this?

Because knowing how your customers are reaching you and how they are evaluating their customer experience is pivotal to your acquisition and retention rates and your overall brand position. Businesses need to understand there processes you can put in place to improve the customer experience starting from the point of search through to after sales support. It’s the whole deal. Customer service does not end at the transaction.

You have competition peoples. Just because you send me a cute EDM every day/week, tweet a bit and have a Facebook page, it doesn’t mean I’m going to buy from you repeatedly. In fact, if you are sending me email everyday (SPAM) you are likely in my “delete immediately list”.

On that particular note, find someone to help you understand how digital marketing can really work for your business, and create a social media and content marketing strategy which is relevant to your business. It’s not one size fits all but that is a different post.

How you treat me and how you make me feel makes all the difference.

For those with the ‘smarts’, we understand and care about the customer experience. We know how it correlates to the business’s bottom line. We know it drives revenue and saves cost. We know the value is not just in the sale. The true value is in the customer experience.

One of the most important factors for any business is understanding that customer retention should outweigh customer acquisition since we know there is more profit in retention. That being said, “profit” is not only financial. It’s not always about the dollar. Businesses must start trading with a “human” currency as well.

Customers need to experience all the good “feels”. It’s all about the feels.

If you’re interested in CXM, here’s a few stats hot off the press for 2016 courtesy of Sprinklr (such a good read and hits so many nails on the head – thanks Sprinklr)

Take a few minutes to digest these statistics and then ask yourself – “where does my business stand now, where do I need to be, and how can I improve it”?

Logistics: an example of how a breakdown in process between supplier and courier results in a poor customer experience.

Recently our TV bit the dust, so we did the research and purchased a new unit from the second largest marketplace in France. Largest in terms of unique visitors per month and per day. It’s large, not China stats large, but a hefty visitor presence nonetheless.

  • Order confirmation states the delivery date as 2nd May 2016 between 8am and 2pm. Note it doesn’t say it’s an estimated date, it’s a firm date. We schedule accordingly to ensure we’re home to receive delivery.
    • How does the customer feel – the date sets the customers expectation. With that information comes a sense of trust.
  • On the morning of Thursday 28th April I ran a few errands. I arrived home just before midday and checked the letterbox. I find a delivery slip – “You missed us”. The delivery slip says the package is 12 pounds. Heavy. Can only be the TV.
    • How does the customer feel – Instant disappointment in the validity of the original delivery date. Trust broken.
  • Husband calls the customer service number shown on the delivery slip. It’s automated and costs .18EU a minute.
    • How does the customer feel – Ripped off. The company now wants the customer to pay for the after sales call to follow up on an order that shouldn’t have been delivered yet.
  • The delivery slip doesn’t have any other method of tracking the package and therefore the customer is required to call the number.
    • How does the customer feel –  Extorted. Simple.
  • Husband calls the machine (from his mobile) and waits (Husband is at work and waits considerable time for a human).
    • How does the customer feel – Time is money.
  • Eventually a human arrives and tells him “you weren’t home so we have to reschedule delivery”.
    • How does the customer feel – Thank you for letting me know you were coming earlier, how very courteous and professional of you.
    • Husband “why didn’t you contact me  to advise of early delivery”.
    • Courier “because we don’t have your phone number”.
    • Husband “Why don’t you have our phone number?” 
    • Courier: “Because <insert marketplace name> does not provide us with those details”. 


I’m sorry, not good enough.

No doubt many of you have experienced this same situation. Frankly, it’s inexcusable with the level of tech available to us. Information sharing is key.

They had one thing to do, just one. Call.

How many people out there will never order from this company again after this experience? A bucketload. So many thoughts run through my mind:

  • why, why, why is it so hard to make a call? We all have a phone, the stats say so.
  • where was the breakdown? Marketplace > original supplier > courier company?
  • how are their backend systems set up ERP > Warehouse distribution > Courier?
  • did no human being have the common sense to check the customer was home?
  • why don’t they care?
  • so many things can be done to prevent these situations occurring.

I must point out this is not a once off occurrence nor is it specific to this particular marketplace. It happens all the time across bricks and mortar stores, to brand sites, to marketplaces. There is no discrimination when it comes to poor customer service. Another example:

  • On a separate occasion I answered the intercom to a delivery guy and gave him our level details (we live in an apartment building). At the same time, he was on the phone and I heard him tell someone we weren’t home to accept the delivery. I could see him through the camera and he responded to me when I spoke! He left a delivery note in my letterbox instead, which forced me to go to the post office to pick up the package. How very convenient. Poetic since the point of online shopping is to increase convenience.
  • Recently a friend of mine ‘received’ a package from a courier that simply threw it on her driveway, jumped in the car and drove off. Seriously?! Are we that short in cash to put extra drivers on the road to service clients properly, or are these drivers just incapable of fulfilling their duties?


Maybe we need to start putting KPI’s in place for courier companies and their drivers to deliver according to the set criteria, e.g., in the letterbox or at the door, not thrown on the driveway. Perhaps we start surveying the delivery drivers – just like we do in Uber. How many Stars and Comment?

We definitely need accountability. We don’t need 10% off our next purchase (but thanks for offering) we need you to step up to the plate and treat us with the respect we deserve, because frankly, that is why your business is still afloat.

On a positive note, our TV was delivered Friday 29th (as they promised). The delivery guy wouldn’t bring the package to the door as he his vehicle was obstructing the traffic in the street. I get that. So I went downstairs and asked him to at least help me get it into the lift.

He did, and he was nice about it. He was friendly and smiley and guess what, it gave me good feels.


My Whole Brain Is Crying

Image credit: Google gifs. Merci beaucoup.

In today’s lesson I accomplished everything and nothing. This is how it went …

2 hour commute to my 2 hour French lesson – way on the other side of Paris. 3 tram stops and 4 metro stations changes later. I’m exhausted before I get there. So many numbers already.

I meet my tutor M in the local bar/cafe and pop a Panadol with my “thé aux fruits rouge”. Really hitting the hard stuff this morning.

We begin. I learn. Nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, indefinite, definite and possessive articles all determined by gender (masculine/feminine) and whether they’re flying solo (singular) or at a party (plural).  M says “indefinite article” to me and I nod politely but really my mind goes blank. I’m supposed to remember this. I’d like to know exactly how many people read and go “oh there’s an indefinite article, a noun and a verb and there’s that doing word thingo”. Do you?

Moving on from my English Lit failure …

M taught me how to count. It’s very similar to Italian so it seems like a no brainer for me. Then you hit 60 and sh*t gets real. For example:

  • 60 is written soixante. 
  • 70 is written soixante dix, because 60 + 10 = 70. Dix being 10. OK. Stay with me.
  • 71 is written soixante et onze, because 60 + 11 = 71.  Onze being 11.  Still there?
  • 72 is soixante douze, 60 + 12 = 72. Douze being 12 …. and so on, until you get to the mothers of all the numbers, 80 and 90.
  • 8o is written quatre-vingts, because 4 x 20 = 80. Just let that sink in for a minute.
  • 90 is written quatre-vingt dix, because 4 x 20 = 80 + 10 = 90. Got it? Nailed it right.

Picture this … 

You’re at the checkout with no digital display to show you the total amount due. It’s common in the local stores here, at the butcher and the baker the candlestick maker.

You’re still working out the coin sizes (1 and 2 cent pieces still exist). The assistant tells you in the fastest of French, which sometimes has a Chinese or Vietnamese accent, “douze euros et quatre-vingt quatorze centimes”. 

???????? WTHeck ????????? “My Whole Brain is Crying”

Your mind goes AWOL. You search around in your purse attempting to cover up the fact you have no idea what they just said by looking for change, whilst you’re frantically trying to reiterate the words in your mind to come up with a ’round about number. You cannot work it out so you mumble “je n’ai pas la bonne monnaie” (I don’t have the right change) and hand over a bank note. Defeated.

This has been me on countless occasions. I’ve boycotted stores for this very reason. I prefer to support the local guys so I really need to get better at this change thing.

If you are still trying to work out that number, it’s €12.94. Easy! Ha.





One Little Word Is All It Takes

Or in Matéo’s case “mammmmaaaaaaa” and sometimes “adaaaaaaa” or just “mum” (with little Aussie/French accent).

Thanks to Mum’s Grapevine for the continuously humourous content, it makes me feel almost normal. Too good not to share.

Je m’appelle Adele 

So today I had my first real French lesson.

The ‘not from a lonely planet phrasebook’ kind. Those are incredibly useful but if I want to have real life discussions, I need to extend my vocabulary past “une baguette s’il vous plait”. 

French lesson
“Terre des mots” is a text designed for primary school children. My tutor has high hopes for me.

I’ve only been with my French (now) husband for 7 years. Call me an avoider. It’s a difficult language and I’m a big chicken. There, I said it. Just too scared to fail because I suck at languages. My other half is the polar opposite, he’s a language sponge.He speaks a few of them. Sometimes I switch off when he talks about the “langue”. He doesn’t know this because I never let my eyes glaze over. Clearly I’m joking, sort of.

All jokes aside, there are very good reasons for me to learn.

Here’s my motivation list ….

  1. So I understand when my husband is talking bad things about me to my son, like “mummy won’t let you eat that chocolate, she said no”. That’s a diplomatic example.
  2. As above except applied to the in-laws. You feeling me?!
  3. Employment. Even though there’s a buhzillion foreigners in Paris who everyone tells me “seem to have easily landed English speaking jobs not speaking a word of the language”  – well, I am not one of those “lucky” ones.
  4. So I can say more than “putain” or “conard” when some ar*ewipe fails to adhere to basic road rules, like stopping at a pedestrian crossing while my son is on it! (that really gets up my goat). Insulting people politely and with a larger vocabulary seems important here. I need to get on that train.
  5. For myself. It’s a slow and painful death living in a foreign country with a language barrier. I need to expand my circle. My daily conversation revolves around “get your finger out your nose” and “no, you can’t have any chocolate” and my  personal favourite, “how many times have I asked you not to do that?!” Nooooooooo.

Back to my lesson …

One tram and four metro station changes later I make it to my teachers hood. Remember I live just outside of the peripherique, so going to the westside of Paris is like a day trip for me. I’m doing one-on-one lessons. We go to a local bar. I’m ensured it’s quiet. This is important as I sure as hell don’t want people listening to me.

I’ve learned a quiet bar in Paris is like a Friday afternoon knock-off drinks. Quiet, not quiet. Apparently it’s the a new cool thing to have your lessons out and about, submerged in the Parisian way. The only thing I was submerged in was phonetics, grammar and conjugation. Up to my eyeballs.

Kudos to my lovely tutor though (I’ll call her M), she kept her voice on the low down and leaned into me so I didn’t have to speak very loud. Bless her. M is ace and her French (for a native Italian) is excellent. M speaks four languages fluently. Puts me to shame. So much shame. M was very patient with me and made me feel really comfortable so after a while I didn’t give a rats bottom who heard me. M was very encouraging of my pronunciation, overall status and ability to progress. Felt pretty chuffed after my 2 hours came to an end.

Feeling pretty confident I can nail this. I’ll keep you posted!

à bientôt

Because parenthood.

4 years , 1 baby, a wedding and 2 continents later …

One hell of a blogging hiatus, right?!

A wise woman reminded me today that I used to write once, and maybe had a good thing going.

So, I dragged this site out of the trenches, gave her a good wash, and put her best frock on. Let’s see what I can do here. New continent, new stories to tell. 

You’re probably going to read a lot of toddlers rants cos that’s where it’s all at right now. 

 Here goes nothing … thanks for listening.

Not so squeezy …

For those who think their subway or train line is full.  You ain’t seen nothin baby !

About a week ago, I went to see a couple of suppliers located in the north-west of the Jing, past the 4th ring road.  The best way to get to the edge of the earth, is via subway.  A taxi takes minimum 1 hour each way, and for those who suffer from car sickness like myself, it’s really not an option.

This lesson was learned the hard and messy way. Cab drivers here love to put pedal to metal, then slam on the brakes.

So I took a cab from work to the suppliers office close to CBD, and they drove us to the call centre out west.  I sat in the front.

On the way back I took Line 10.  See map below – showing start and finish points, highlighting stops 1, 3 & 5.

For a little perspective …

Stop 1.

Line 10, Stop 1Stop 3.

Line 10, Stop 3Stop 5.

Line 10, Stop 5Within 3 small stops the train is packed, like a tin of off sardines.  Imagine yourself  in 35 degrees, stinking (yes, stinky!) heat at around 70% humidity.

Getting off the train was yet another frightening experience, involving a lot of shouting and pushing people to move, who consequently end up outside of the train on the platform, just so peeps can get off.   Wonder what the ratio is for people who successfully get back on ?!

It’s a charming experience, and not in the Collins dictionary kind of way.

To Expo, or not to Expo

Agricultural Exhibition Centre, Beijing.

They take their potatoes seriously.

Ride My Bike Until …

A chinese dynasty has past since I last blogged.

Where does one start when so much has time has passed? A wise man said to me, “you don’t have to write much, just post pics an summarise”. Thanks @cannizzaro.  I’m taking the advice and I’m starting with the present. Well, nearly.

Every foreigner in Beijing will know that the best, and believe it or not, safest way to get around this town is by bike.  Bikes come in all types in these parts, Malvern Star knock offs if you want the retro look, teeny tiny wheeled fold ups, electric bikes for the lazy, and you can throw in a side car if you want to take the family.

I went with the good old fashioned kind that you need to pedal.  So here’s my new wheels!

Thigh BusterBig, little wheels - fold up styles

*I think they do the peace sign differently in China.

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