The demise last year of BlueSky, a company that specialized in fulfilling orders placed from the catalogs of non-profits, left many people thinking that the nonprofits had ripped them off. Customers were left with cashed checks, credit card charges — and no merchandise.
It’s a customer service and public relations disaster, particularly since many of the organizations affected didn’t have any of the order information and couldn’t tell who’s missing what.
According to DM News (4/9/08) Winterthur [the decorative arts museum in Delaware], “… refused to take any responsibility for orders placed with catalogs sporting its name and logo left unfulfilled by BlueSky.”
“ ‘Winterthur is not responsible for resolving issues related to the operations or outstanding orders of BlueSky Brands and does not have information on the orders that have been placed,” the company said in a statement on its site. “Credit card issuers may be able to assist in resolving billing disputes with BlueSky Brands for those orders paid for by credit card.’ ”
On the other hand, The National Wildlife Federation reacted by collecting inquiries, sorting them and working on developing a plan to manage them; the Smithsonian posted a Q&A on its site.
The best time to invest in customer service is before something like this happens. Have policies in place that encourage your reps to go out of their way to help customers: check on which store still has a particular book in stock, or where they can find their favorite flavor of your pasta sauce. The second best time is after something like this happens. Instead of washing your hands and walking away, try to negotiate on your customers’ behalf with your vendors, investigate what happened, and do your best to make it right.