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If delivery goes bad, you'll know quickly

Retail Editor 3, Larry Thomas -- Furniture Today, May 23, 2012

ATLANTA - The widespread use of social media makes a positive home delivery experience with immediate consumer feedback more critical than ever, a panel of furniture delivery experts said here.
     Speaking at Sandow Media's second annual Logistics Conference, panelists said today's consumers are more inclined to vent their frustrations on social media sites such as Facebook or YouTube when they have a bad experience with a retailer, and such issues can seriously harm the retailer's reputation.
     "If there is a problem with a delivery, you're probably going to find a video of it on YouTube," said Eric Adelstein, vice president of delivery operations for Bob's Discount Furniture. "That's why consistency is more important than it ever was before."
     Naveen Pinglay, senior vice president and chief operating officer at Haynes Furniture and The Dump, agreed, noting that the delivery team always leaves a lasting impression on the consumer - positive or negative.
     "Even though we spend a lot of money on the in-store experience, what they are likely to remember most is the experience at the front door," he told conference attendees.
     Panelists said they often solicit consumer feedback immediately after a delivery is completed, and most assign at least one staff member to monitor posts about the company on social media sites.
     "As we go forward, it's all about how our customers want to communicate with us," said Will O'Shea, chief sales and marketing officer at 3PD, a home delivery provider. "We try to talk to the customer within an hour of making the delivery, and use that feedback at our morning meetings (with delivery teams.)"
     Also on the panel were Scott Roberts, director of safety at Cory 1st Choice Home Delivery; Mike Doyle, director of transportation for e-commerce retailer Wayfair (formerly CSN stores); and Jim Waters, senior manager of direct-to-customer for The Home Depot.
     Waters said Home Depot has implemented a pay-for performance system to encourage top-notch customer service from the delivery companies it uses, while Roberts and others said they also rely on almost instant feedback from consumers.
     "Our drivers do more than physically go into somebody's house," said Roberts, whose company delivers products for numerous furniture, electronics and appliance retailers. "A very important part of what we do is protecting that retailer's brand."
     Pinglay said a successful delivery "starts as soon as you pull the product" because other staff members must ensure the delivery team has the correct merchandise and is given sufficient time to make all of its scheduled deliveries for that day. But when a mistake is made, it's critical to rectify the problem as soon as possible, he emphasized.
     "It's not whether a retailer is going to mess up. We all do that once in a while. It's about who is going to take care of you when something goes wrong," Pinglay said.
     Doyle said one of the most common complaints Wayfair used to get concerned damage. However, those complaints have fallen by 50% during the past year after the e-tailer began implementing stricter packaging requirements for its vendors.
     "We go out of our way to make the customer experience better," said Doyle.

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