Customer service remains a key challenge in ecommerce in Bangladesh. Complaints about the delivery delays and the customer service response, the way customers are being communicated from the companies and the way they are provided with information when there is a problem, are widespread in ecommerce in Dhaka.
In most cases, customers are often kept in the dark when there are some issues related to product or service. Customers often need to call multiple times to solve an issue. Often when a customer calls the customer service department, they get the identical response which is "our concern department will contact you later." Rarely customers get immediate solutions for their problems. Often there is basically no concern department and nobody usually gets back to the customer on time.
However, a slow change has been taking place in the market over the past three years. As the frustration of consumers takes a toll on the overall ecommerce industry, companies are slowly waking up to the importance of serving customers well.
Pickaboo, being an ecommerce and offline retail player that truly embodies the customer-first approach of business, has been leading the change. The company, since its founding, has managed to establish a reputation predicated on superior consumer service to the extent that Pickaboo has become a benchmark for consumer service standards in ecommerce.
In this report, we dive into Pickaboo’s unique customer support strategy, how Pickaboo ensures superior customer experience, Pickaboo’s customer service philosophy and principles and how Pickaboo has been using superior customer service as the lever for growth and more.
Pickaboo has been investing in ensuring superior customer service since its founding. The company has designed an operation around customer service. It has consistently been innovating around customer service helping the company to build a strong brand and a loyal customer base.
The ambition of this article is to dig deep into Pickaboo’s customer service philosophy and how Pickaboo has put customer service at the center of its growth strategy and has designed an entire operation around ensuring superior consumer service. I want to be thorough and comprehensive and plan to do it in the following way.
Pickaboo does not want you to call Pickaboo customer support with complaints. The company aims to get rid of the need for managing a call center or a dedicated service line to solve customer complaints. Pickaboo wants to serve customers in such an excellent manner that, from delivering high quality products on time to providing superv after sales service, customers will not need to make calls to Pickaboo for service or fixing a problem. In fact, Pickaboo has managed to achieve this goal to some extent.
Mr. Morin says that over the past years, Pickaboo’s need for managing customer service as part of complaint management has reduced significantly. He claims that Pickaboo simply receives a limited number of complaints from customers because it always tries to promptly solve customer problems without needing them to call and communicate.
“People would not call you easily,” says Mr. Morin. “They will only call you when they need to call you. If I keep the commitment, deliver the product on time and of good quality, you would not call me.”
Mr. Morin emphasizes that Pickaboo has always tried to follow this approach - serving customers well so that they don’t require customer support afterward. As a result, Pickaboo has seen a significant fall in the number of complaint calls Pickaboo customer support receives daily.
Pickaboo proactively reaches out to customers with information and updates when one is warranted. The company always makes sure that customers are informed. When customers are informed they don’t call customer support.
“What we have seen is that when we can't deliver goods on time, our number of customer support calls increases,” says Mr. Morin. “If I deliver you on time and fulfill your after sales requirements on time, you will never call me. I would not say that we are doing perfect all the time. We can't deliver about 5% order on time, which we always openly acknowledge. In those instances, we always keep communication with our customers. We never keep you in the dark. We always make sure that you are informed. As a result, the number of complaint calls we receive compared to the number of deliveries we handle is pretty negligible.”
Pickaboo has actively invested in handling customer complaints head on without keeping customers in waiting. The company seldom responds to customer complaints without a prompt solution. There is little non answer to customer queries.
“We have brought down the rate of saying that the "concern department will call you back to less than 1%,” says Mr. Morin. “We try to solve every customer issue immediately. We only tell our customers that we will get back later when there is after-sales service involved with a product because we sell products of other brands. When there is after-sales service involved, we first need to coordinate with the respective brand and then get back to the customer. We do that. Then and again, when it comes to after-sales we tell our customers where their products are and the expected timeline for reaching the product to customers. Customers can also get the update from our system. We continuously tell our customers what on-going issue we have with customers and keep it on followup and keep the customers informed.”
Every part of your interaction with your customers is part of your customer experience. In every interaction, customers either get a positive experience or a negative experience.
For example, when a customer enters your website, whether her experience is positive or negative that's a part of the customer experience you offer. When she moved to checkout, how quickly could she make the payment and complete the order, that's also part of the customer service. When she finally placed the order, whether she got a genuine product or not, whether the delivery man behaved well or not when delivering the product, when she needed the after sales service, could she get it on time and easily, when she complains about the product and quality, whether the company takes the complaint positively and tries to solve it quickly or not, when there is an issue with an order how quickly you inform your customer about the problem and so on - all these things are part of customer service.
Customer experience is not call center alone. Every bit and piece of your operation is directly related to customer experience. A superior customer experience requires companies to adopt a customer service philosophy that embeds the idea of serving customers best in the DNA of the operation of a company.
That’s exactly how Morin Talukder, CEO of Pickaboo, explains Pickaboo’s customer experience philosophy.
“Pickaboo is designed operationally to serve our customers better,” says Mr. Morin. “Everything that everyone does at Pickaboo is related to customer service. What I do as the CEO, what our customer service team does, what tech team does, and what everyone else in the company does, everything is related to customer service.”
1. Finding good resources is a challenge. In order to serve customers well, you need good people who are proactive and understand realities and demands of business and day to day operation. Mr. Morin says, it is always a challenge to hire and retain good people who can lead change and make a difference.
2. Automation remains a challenge. Customer service remains mostly manual in Bangladesh. Most companies manage customer service through call center and employing in-person customer service and call center representatives. “Whereas if we could shift some of our customer service to email or ticketing or chat, the whole thing would have become much easier for us,” says Mr. Morin. “Live call means you have to engage full-time. If you take a 5 minutes call, it means you can’t do anything during that time. And then there needs to be a gap for a rep in between calls. Whereas in email, you don't essentially need to give a gap because anyone could reply to an email. If you have an after sales issue and email, the sales department will reply to it without needing the customer service department. But when customer service needs to reply, they rely on after-sales for information and subsequently reply. But if after-sales could reply to it directly, it could do it without relying on anyone, thus saving both time and resources. Email and live chats are common in many markets. In fact, in email we reply on average within 30 minutes. Email allows you to deliberate a reply and solve a problem in complete. Since we could not enact these changes, efficiency remains a challenge in customer service for us in Bangladesh.”
3. Customers in Bangladesh don't have much expectation when it comes to customer service. Bad customer service has become a part of our consumer culture. Customers no longer expect good service and many customers don't believe that good customer service is possible. As a result, when a customer faces a challenge and they finally come to get hold of a customer service representative, they want an instant solution. This market reality poses a threat to putting together an efficient and effective customer service in Bangladesh.
There is a group on Facebook called eCommerce Review where if you search for customer service, you would see that Pickaboo often comes as an example for excellent customer service. “The advantage we have is that people recognize us as a brand for superior service,’ says Mr. Morin. “We have worked hard from day one to ensure excellent customer service. We have never allowed our quality of customer service to suffer even when we were going through a difficult time.”
Pickaboo has taken a number of initiatives to ensure great service. The company has built strong internal processes, developed a feedback-loop, invested in tools and channels, identified priorities for good service and put emphasis on innovation around customer service.
For example, Pickaboo regularly evaluates the interactions of its customer support agents with customers. The company evaluates five calls of every agent every day, calls every customer right after the delivery of a product for feedback, and involves a third party partner to evaluate this entire process - all these efforts allow the company to improve the entire process regularly.
“We have our separate call center team who call our customers,” says Mr. Morin. “We monitor the entire process and evaluate it routinely. Similarly, we get data from our third-party partners that allow us to see independent customer feedback.”
In order to bring Pickaboo’s customer service philosophy into reality, Pickaboo has put together a number of principles that dictate the implementation of its customer service and experience across the board. Let’s take a look into Pickaboo’s customer service principles.
Commitment and timely delivery: Pickaboo seldom commits a delivery time that it can’t fulfill. Mr. Morin says, “except for about 5% cases, we almost always deliver products on time. You will get your orders delivered on time without delay.” This makes so much sense from customer service. Service is almost always about delivering what you commit. If customers get what they are being promised, they are usually more than happy.
On product quality: Pickaboo works directly with brands and manufacturers. As a result, products are always authentic and there are scant product-related complaints. “Since we offer original products and directly work with brands, there are rarely product related complaints,” says Mr. Morin. “If there are some product issues, companies do provide good customer support. We ensure that our customers get excellent after-sales service.”
On training customer service representatives: “When we hire customer service representatives we provide one-week training before deploying them so that they know all the information and can serve customers better,” says Mr. Morin. Pickaboo has built a system for its customer service representatives to answer customer queries.
“When we bring a new product on the platform, we make brands fill-up a form with detailed information about the product that we can use to answer queries from customers.”
On building a customer feedback-loop: Feedback is critical for any improvement. In order to improve its customer service, Pickaboo has built a feedback system that allows the company to regularly collect inputs from customers, correct mistakes, and improve the overall process. “We take customer feedback after successful delivery of a product, we ask three questions - one, product quality, two, delivery man behavior, and three, feedback on the overall Pickaboo journey.” This helps Pickaboo to keep on improving its service muscle and serve its customers better every time.
On ensuring an excellent on-site experience: Pickaboo has been paying a lot of attention to its website experience of late. The company has launched a redesign of its website recently and has been making a drive to shore up its review section on the website.
“After completion of every order we are sending an email to our customers and requesting their review on our website”, says Mr. Morin. “Reviews are useful because it helps other customers to make a decision. We have plans to incentivize customers for review.”
On training delivery personnel: “Since we are a digital commerce company, customers usually don't come in contact with us,” says Mr. Morin. “They come to see us in two ways: one through our website and another through our delivery personnel. In both instances, it matters in both instances how these two experiences are. We want our riders to be presentable. Our delivery people are also part of our Pickaboo customer service. How riders behave with customers do make a difference. Most of our riders are under our payroll. We work with third-party companies on a very limited scale. We train these riders on delivery etiquette along with basic information about product and Pickaboo services. If a customer wants, they can instantly return the product to him. Riders are capable of giving basic product support such as connecting your product with devices and so on. We also have greater control over how they dress and so on. Our supply chain checks every morning whether a rider is properly groomed or not.”
On product return: “If a customer wants to return a product, they can do so instantly to the delivery person. There is no charge involved. We have a 3 days easy return policy. All you have to do is call our customer care and we will send someone to pick the product from your place. We have a return system on our website. You simply fill-up the form and we send a person to bring the product. It takes us an average of 36 hours to do so after the request.’
Not bothering customers without permission: While customer service remains a challenge, often companies bother customers with unnecessary SMS and texts and so on. Pickaboo says it has taken active measures to ensure that it does not bother customers. The company does not push promotional messages when customers call for information or service.
“We don't bother our customers,” says Mr. Morin. “We don't send you unnecessary emails. We don't make you unnecessary calls. When you call us for information, we don't push things at you. Customer service is customer service. There is nothing more or less. Our customer service team is responsible for only solving problems. We never ask them to sell one more product to you. Customer service is all about solving problems for customers. The KPI for our customer service team is to make customers happy and address their problems successfully.”
Prompt response: One common customer support pain is the unlimited waiting time. You call the customer support number and there is always a queue. This is part of a bad customer support experience. Pickaboo says it has made effective efforts to reduce customer waiting time.
“Our call waiting time now is about 20 seconds”, says Mr. Morin. “Within about 20 seconds we answer your call. For our Pickaboo Club members, our average time is less than 5 seconds. Their concerns always move forward in the queue because they are our priority customers.”
Pickaboo uses following tools to serve customers:
The important aspect of customer service is commitment. If you commit that you would deliver a product in five days and of a certain quality, you have to make sure you keep your promise. If you can't you have to communicate and apologize to your customers.
The second important aspect is innovation. In order to remain competitive, you have to innovate in serving your customers better.
Pickaboo has been an innovator in customer experience. The company has not only found better ways to ensure on-time delivery, high-quality products, and excellent after-sales service, the company has also invested in innovating new solutions for customers.
For example, Pickaboo has a service called Tempt where the company provides customers a temporary phone when they need to service their phone. “We don't charge for the service,” says Mr. Morin. “It is free. We give you a phone so that you don't need to stay without a phone ever. We have had a wonderful experience with the service. We served over 7-800 people. We never had a bad experience.”
Tempt is an excellent example of service innovation that is likely to delight customers.
Pickaboo is not taking this expertise in serving customers well to its offline retail operation. “Since the launch of Pickaboo Retail operation, we have been working hard to translate our online customer experience to offline,” says Mr. Morin. “We have trained our offline representatives and designed processes in outlets to improve customer experience. We take feedback from offline customers fast and take their feedback seriously.” This process is already bearing fruits. For example, the company is adding more innovation to serving customers. “We started a self-checkout based on customer feedback. We are working hard to excel in offline customer service as well.”
Pickaboo views customer service as a core part of its growth strategy. The company sees the fact that if customers are happy they will come back and bring new customers as well. Excellent customer service is the best marketing.
“We are detail-oriented and pay attention to the smallest details. To us, every interaction with our customer matters,” says Mr. Morin. “We try to deliver a smooth and seamless positive experience to our customers every time they come in contact with us from placing orders on our website to making payment to product delivery to after-sales service. We exist to serve customers. We view our entire operation from that perspective.”
Pickaboo culture has been built upon the idea of serving customers well.
“We are doubling down on serving our customers better as we gradually build an operation at the intersection of online and offline retail,” adds Mr. Morin. “We will offer competitive prices, but we will outshine the market in service, always. That’s the ambition.”