One of Dhaka's earliest and fast-growing e-commerce players, Pickaboo, has taken a radically different approach to growth in recent years. Instead of following the much-discussed discount frenzy typically seen in the sector, at the expense of service, of late, the company has been doubling down on a customer-centric strategy that offers competitive pricing, standard discounts, and innovative customer service.
"I've been shopping on pickaboo.com regularly for several years, and I've consistently received great service," says Md Jahid, who purchased multiple products from Pickaboo. "I wouldn't say there was no problem. Occasionally, there were delays and product issues. However, Pickaboo has always responded to complaints promptly.” Mr. Mahmud, another regular Pickaboo customer concurs, having bought a faulty phone from the marketplace, which Pickaboo quickly replaced after receiving a complaint.
Pickaboo is known for its customer service in the ecommerce industry. While delivery delays are a common complaint from customers in ecommerce, Pickaboo offers several delivery options such as 24-hour delivery, Fast Pick, 48-hour delivery. The company says it rarely misses delivery timelines.
The company has established a process for promptly resolving customer complaints. The policy for returns and refunds is straightforward. If a customer wants to return a product, they can contact Pickaboo customer service, and Pickaboo arranges the product pick up and takes care of the rest. Customers can return a product to the delivery person if they need to for free of charge.
Customers often complain about endless waiting times in customer service calls. Pickaboo claims it has reduced the waiting time for customer service calls to 20 seconds. The average waiting time for Pickaboo Club members is less than 5 seconds.
Pickaboo has also 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.
It has introduced several interesting services around customer experience in both its offline and online operation such as Tempt, where it provides a phone to customers for temporary use when their phone needs servicing — an excellent example of service innovation that is likely to delight customers. Delivery services such as Fast Pick delivers products within 12 hours in certain locations. The company has also invested in new solutions such as automating product tracking for customers, reducing service queues, making returns and refunds easier, etc.
Pickaboo makes it easier for customers to contact its customer service. Customers can communicate with Pickaboo customer service using Web Chat. The company replies almost instantaneously in messaging channels. An internal ticketing system helps resolve customer complaints and problems swiftly. Because the company works with authorized sellers, it can provide excellent after-sales service and receive few complaints about products. Ninety-five percent of customers are satisfied with its services, the company says.
Trust in ecommerce has suddenly become a keyword as complaints against several ecommerce companies surface. Pickaboo says it has been able to earn customer trust by providing quality products and services. It plans to extend its online customer experience to its rapidly expanding offline retail.
“At Pickaboo, we don’t really see our business as an online store where we compensate for poor service with hefty discounts,” says Mr. Morin. “We see Pickaboo as a convenience store where you get excellent services, fast delivery, and high-quality products.”
The ecommerce industry has been experiencing upheaval recently. The industry has been facing rampant customer complaints, and regulatory interventions against select players despite excellent pandemic-driven growth. Several reports suggest, while ecommerce has seen excellent growth, there has been a decline in customer trust in the sector due to poor customer service and order fulfillment by some of the old and new players.
The benefits of eCommerce are numerous. Purchase anything you want without braving Dhaka traffic. Get home delivery. Excellent collection. Online shopping nowadays also offers competitive prices and other benefits such as EMI. The current crisis occurs due to strategic missteps by several players who paid too much attention to heavy discounts and growth without paying much attention to order fulfillment and customer service. The result has been devastating.
Discounts have been around for a long time. Across markets, companies have used heavy discounts to grow.
Online shoppers expect price advantages from ecommerce companies, but not at the expense of service. The past events have proven that customers don't get quality service when an ecommerce company solely focuses on discounts as a growth strategy. Moreover, many of the companies tried to use customer's money to finance discounts, and only a few raised external investments.
Pickaboo has stayed away from the discount race in ecommerce in Dhaka so far. Instead, it has focused on setting up a sustainable operation centered around customer service to execute its omnichannel strategy. Pickaboo believes that marrying online and offline operations can provide strong competitive moats and access to a larger market. Pickaboo's quality customer experience — including on-time delivery, high-quality products, continuous service innovation, and after-sales support — remains a key piece of its business strategy, both online and offline.
Pickaboo views customer service as a core component of its growth strategy. Happy customers will return and bring new customers with them.
The company says it plans to double down on customer service as it gradually builds out its operation at the intersection of online and offline retail.
"We put our faith in service. Having a sustainable business, we don't have to grow our number by any means, so we can doggedly stick to our priorities. "We view our business differently."
Pickaboo deals directly with brands and manufacturers to ensure authentic products and exceptional after-sales support.
The company trains its customer service representatives before deployment and has developed tools for them to answer customer queries quickly and accurately. The product details are collected from brand partners and organized for customer representatives to access easily and answer customer questions. Delivery people are being trained in etiquettes to ensure customers have a pleasant experience.
“We see every interaction with customers is part of the customer experience,” says Mr. Morin “Customers come to see us through our website and our delivery personnel. “How our riders behave with customers makes a difference.”
Pickaboo contacts customers after every successful delivery and collects feedback about the product quality, delivery man behavior, and the overall Pickaboo experience. By using the feedback system, the company can correct mistakes and improve the process overall.
Customer service remains a key challenge in ecommerce in Bangladesh. Complaints about the delivery delays and slow customer service response are widespread in ecommerce in Dhaka. Customers are often kept in the dark when there are problems with a product or service. Often, customers need to call multiple times to resolve an issue. Often when customers call customer service, they get the same response: "We will get back to you later."
Pickaboo, along with a handful of other ecommerce players, has been playing with a customer-first approach.
"Pickaboo is designed operationally to better serve our customers," says Mr. Morin. "Everything we do at Pickaboo relates to customer service. The CEO's responsibilities, the service department's responsibilities, the tech team's responsibilities, everything in the company is about the customer."
In addition to developing strong internal processes, Pickaboo has built a feedback loop, invested in tools and channels, identified priorities for good customer service, and placed a major emphasis on innovation for customer service. The interactions between its customer support agents and customers are regularly evaluated. The company uses third parties to evaluate its customer service methods — all of which allow the company to continue to improve the process regularly.
Pickaboo places customer service at the center of its growth strategy. The company understands that if its customers are satisfied, they will come back and also refer new clients. Excellent customer service is often the best marketing.
We try to deliver a seamless experience to our customers in every interaction from placing orders on our website to delivery to after-sales service”, says Mr. Morin. “We are doubling down on serving our customers better. We offer competitive prices and discounts. But we will outshine the market in service, always. That’s the ambition.”
Price remains a critical factor in retail. In an increasingly price aggressive business environment, it would be an uphill battle for Pickaboo to fend off competition.
However, three things are working in favor of Pickaboo in the current business environment:
Good businesses usually take advantage of a flywheel effect, a term coined by famed business author and teacher Jim Collins. As Collins explains it, a flywheel is a self-reinforcing loop enabled by one or two key enforcers — a business strategy or a product or service.
Customer obsession is often a reliable strategy to enable a flywheel. If it works, it can perpetuate and create a self-reinforcing positive loop across the business.
For Pickaboo, it could play out something like this: customer service coupled with competitive price helping it retain more customers as well as attracting new ones. More customer demand means more bargaining power with suppliers, better ability to develop services and invest in innovation which will enable the company to offer even greater benefit to customers in turn help it attract more customers creating a virtuous cycle of growth. But all that depends on how Pickaboo scales its current customer service obsession as it tries to grow and expand its online and offline business.