Outstanding! Organizations Don’t Do This …

Two minute video message from John G. Miller about new Outstanding! book.

Our story today comes from José in California. Enjoy!


John, you’re totally correct when you say in Outstanding! that “people fire companies.” With all the problems in the economy and how hard it is to gain and keep customers, organizations should not do dumb things.

I had received several emails from a major computer manufacturer offering post-Christmas discounts and free shipping. Combining those benefits with getting in a last minute 2009 business expense, on December 26th I ordered a customized computer online. It was to be completed and shipped about ten days later.

On January 6th, I checked on my order and was incredulous: The order had been canceled December 28th with no attempt to call or e-mail me. So I called and reached a customer care person on the other side of the world.

She spoke decent English and was helpful. She did have to contact her “next level” a couple of times during our call, but that was okay. Meanwhile, I tried to be a good customer—she was not responsible for the cancellation—by working hard to be even-tempered, speak clearly, and to give her the information she needed.

What we discovered is they’d canceled my order because a peripheral (a webcam that clips to the monitor) was not in stock. It seems their system is programmed to automatically cancel an entire order if one item is not available. So, a $75 webcam isn’t in their inventory and they cancel a $3,000 order—without giving the consumer the chance to say, “Forget the camera!”

So, not good for me—but I also can’t figure out how it’s good for their business.

Anyway, the rep told me I’d have to submit an entirely new order. I calmly expressed my frustration, letting her know I still expected the promised price discount along with free shipping. I told her nicely if that wasn’t going to happen, I would need to speak to a manager so I could explain why I was now going to get off the phone and go buy a new computer from the other guys.

I was then put on hold again while she went to speak to her boss. Oh well, at least she was trying.

Finally, my order was re-submitted with all the perks. But then she mentioned it might still be canceled if the webcam wasn’t in stock. I quickly said, “CANCEL THE CAMERA!!!”

John, this is an example of a once great, big name company shooting itself in the foot by doing something so customer-UNfriendly it caused me to want to “fire” them. And, of course, I might do that in the future when I need to buy another computer—and have a another choice to make.

One more point: I’d send this email to them but they make it so difficult to contact them online it’s not worth the hassle. But if I could, I’d give kudos to a customer service rep overseas who seems to care more about the paying customer than her own organization’s marketing and IT executives here in the States do!



Thanks, José. Certainly an outstanding example of the dumb things organizations do to push customers away—the exact opposite of what every organization wants. It’d be a good idea for all of us to look hard at our systems, processes, policies, and people and work to ensure we’re not giving customers reason to fire us, because who can afford that?


John G. Miller Author of … QBQ! The Question Behind the Question® Flipping the Switch … Unleash the Power of Personal Accountability Outstanding! 47 Ways to Make Your Organization Exceptional


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