A Lesson on Customer Service Recovery from Outer Furniture

I’ve been doing customer service and sales training for a long time. So long that “they” say not to put the length on my profile for fear I might have age discrimination. Sigh. My family cringes when there is a customer service issue, and I provide feedback on how the employee could do better.

I have a customer service story that’s textbook on how to handle a customer’s service disruption.

The Order

A few months ago, I decided to purchase Outer Furniture. If you have any kind of social media and have researched outdoor furniture, I’m sure you’ve seen the glowing reviews. I worked with Lauren on my order. She was incredibly responsive and arranged for my order to be held and ready at the beginning of October when I would be at my place in Las Vegas.

About a week before I arrived in Vegas, I got an email that my order was being prepared. Amazing! They actually did what they said. Then, I got a call to schedule the shipment delivery – one day after my arrival—mind blown.

Day of Scheduled Delivery

On the day of scheduled arrival, I organized my day to ensure I’d be available for delivery. I waited. And waited. And waited. Finally, in the afternoon, I decided to call the shipper. After a long hold, she said my order wasn’t shipped and to call the shipper. So sad!

I tried calling the number on the website and got voicemail. WHAT. Then I emailed Lauren. Within a few minutes, she called me back and said she escalated my order but that she couldn’t do anything beyond that. Bummer. So I waited. And waited. Then I started wondering if the company took my order and my money and was a big social media scam. Armed with these thoughts, I scoured social media to see if other people had this complaint. Sure enough, some people had order issues. One person suggested contacting the CEO on LinkedIn.

So I did. I sent messages to all of the people on LinkedIn I could find (don’t judge). Knowing I wouldn’t get a response, I just felt better telling my story. I went to bed and woke up the next day, no messages from Outer, nothing. Every hour, I started calling the phone number on the website just to see if I could connect with someone. Finally, after the fifth attempt, I reached Lo.

Lo explained that she knew of my situation and listened with empathy about my concerns. She said that she would take care of it, and I was in good hands. About 45 minutes later, I received a CALL from Allison. She was the person responsible for fulfillment at Outer. Again, she listened with empathy and said that she was working on getting my furniture and would make it right.

I checked LinkedIn. ALL the people I messaged replied (ok it was three people) and said the order was being addressed and provided a sincere apology for my service experience. Amazing.

Next, Allison texted me. Yes, now I have this woman’s direct texting line. She said my order was picked up and would be delivered TOMORROW. Yes, tomorrow.

The Order Arrived!

The next day, I received the order. Each huge box I opened revealed one beautiful piece of furniture after the other. I was ready to send glowing reviews on every social media page. Then I opened the last box. So sad. Broken chair.

I took a picture and sent it to Lo and Allison. Now wondering what the hassle would be to get a replacement. I also messaged back Terry Lin on LinkedIn with huge thanks for the beautiful furniture and the sad one broken piece.

Not 30 minutes later, my phone rings. From a random number. I sometimes like to talk to telemarketers, so I answered IT WAS TERRY. Yes, the co-founder of the company picked up the phone to apologize. Then, we talked for a bit about the challenges they’re facing with supply chain, growth, and how they were working on it.

Allison and Lo worked together to get the replacement chair to me within a few days. My furniture is beautiful and comfortable. I love it.

Lessons Learned

There are many lessons learned here. First, you now know I like to spam everyone in my freak-out moments. But seriously, listening is one of the most powerful tools in your toolbox when a customer has a service-related issue. Next, communication throughout the process defuses the situation and stops the spin. Customers want to be over-communicated when they have a service disruption. Finally, when you can, take action.