How Proflowers SHOULD have handled the Valentine’s Day backlash

So, the flowers never showed up. There wasn’t any attempt to try to deliver them again on Wednesday. Andy called customer service and was told that his order had been “rejected.” They didn’t say if it was rejected by the florist or the place of delivery, but I have reason to believe that neither one rejected it. He was told that he’d get a full refund. That hasn’t happened yet, so we’re still following the case.

I don’t want to give this whole thing much more energy, because really, why should I? But I would like to make a few suggestions on the off-chance that someone from Proflowers actually sees this. Or really, anyone who has to deal with issues like this. I have a degree in public relations, part of my job involves responding to customer questions on forums/Twitter/Facebook, I’ve managed email marketing campaigns for three years, and I’m a consumer. Oh, and a girl.

Here’s what Proflowers should have done:

1.  ADMIT YOU MADE A MISTAKE. I would hope that this company has some kind of record of the orders they’ve taken. Perhaps a CRM program that lets them track when an order is taken, if it’s been paid, and if it’s shipped and delivered. With ANY kind of tangible product this is important. What they should have done, MONDAY evening or first thing Tuesday morning, was pull a report of all the orders that were charged the Valentine’s day delivery fee, and send them a mass apology email. Something along the lines of:

“Our records show that for some reason, your order was not delivered on Valentine’s day. We’re extremely sorry for any inconvenience/stress on your relationship this may have caused. We will follow up with you within the next 48 hours to resolve this.”

There should be another mass email to the recipient. The sender should provide an email address, their relationship (whether it’s husband/boyfriend/whatever), and if it’s okay to contact the person. They can use dynamic content in most email programs to personalize the emails. They SHOULD NOT add her to any mailing/advertising lists, but they should send her something along the lines of this (worded better than this, but you get the gist):

“Your [husband/boyfriend/whatever] sent you flowers for Valentine’s Day, but for some reason, they were not delivered. It’s totally our fault, and we want you to know that we’re very sorry for this. Please don’t be upset with [husband/boyfriend/whatever’s name]. He actually did send you flowers. We’re working with him to correct this.”

The main purpose of this email is to do a little damage control. This didn’t happen in my relationships, but I’m sure there were some that suffered because the recipient who didn’t receive the flowers thought her man didn’t care. Not good. It’s not just flowers- it’s peoples’ relationships.

2. FOLLOW UP. Have your customer service team follow up individually with people who did not receive their order (either by email or phone), and figure out what happened. Apologize profusely. Offer a full refund, and a credit for future flowers to be used at any time (such as a birthday or an anniversary. Who wants Valentine’s flowers several days late?)

3. Respond better on Twitter/Facebook. Don’t just give a 1800 number to call. I’m not the person who messed up- you are. I don’t want to sit on hold for 20 minutes, and I don’t want to make my boyfriend do that either. Get the order numbers of the people who are complaining on Facebook and Twitter, look them up, and move their individual follow up higher up on the list. Listen to their complaints, and bring them to the attention of the operations team to see if there are ways your company can improve.

4. Get rid of the condescending ads. The two or three days after Valentine’s day, the main ad on the website was “When she sees it, she won’t mind that it’s late.” Um, trust me- she will. Especially if it’s red/pink, and has a teddy bear/balloon that says “Happy Valentine’s Day,” or anything else that would indicate that it was supposed to be delivered on Valentine’s Day and wasn’t. It just makes the boyfriends/husbands of the world look bad, like they couldn’t be bothered to remember Valentine’s day on time.

Here’s what Proflowers.com should do to prevent this from happening in the future:

1. Better relationships/communications with local florists/delivery crews. I don’t know exactly what their relationships are like, but based on the volume of people who didn’t receive their flowers on time, I’d imagine there’s a lot of disconnect. Fix it. When you see that certain orders weren’t delivered, contact the people who were responsible for it and find out why. AND FIX IT. FIX IT. FIX IT.

2. Admit when you’re over capacity. Too many orders for your resources to handle? STOP TAKING ORDERS. Make your cutoff date earlier. Give people who wait until the last minute a chance to find another option. If someone tries to place an order too close to the cutoff/unrealistically after the cutoff, don’t process the order, but instead send them an email with a coupon code and the cutoff dates for the major flower holidays. That way, you’ll have them as a potential future customer for other holidays, rather than a pissed off customer that will go to your competitors instead.

Or, better yet..

3. STAFF APPROPRIATELY. Use that “Valentine’s Day Delivery Fee” (which was $10 ON TOP of the regular delivery fee) to hire more people to accommodate the extra orders. You’re a flower company. You KNOW when your busy times of year are. The unemployment rate is still fairly high. HIRE MORE DELIVERY PEOPLE.

3. GIVE THE SENDER A TRACKING NUMBER. This may come as a shock, but some people like to surprise their lovers with gifts and flowers. Give these people a tracking number so they can see if their flowers have been delivered. The technology exists. A lot of these flowers are delivered by UPS/Fedex. That way, guys won’t have to ruin the surprise by asking their girlfriends if they’ve received the flowers, which only makes them feel bad if they haven’t. If this happened, then there’s a chance that I wouldn’t have even known about the whole mess, which would be lovely.

Okay, that’s it. I’m done with this subject.

Our new solution for future holidays:

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5 Responses to How Proflowers SHOULD have handled the Valentine’s Day backlash

  1. Seashell says:

    This is great advice for Pro Flowers and most any other company that deals is delivering custom gifts for any holiday. I hope they take note of this post! You are so right that is it more than just having a gift delivered. It is a relationship thing.

  2. Bill says:

    Hi Kristin, I’ve been following your posts on facebook over the last week and though we strictly refrain from posting any kind of customer details on facebook, here it can be left to you to remove it if you feel it is necessary.

    First, because it is very important, we are sorry for your experience with this Valentine’s Day order. It’s not supposed to be this hard for you; we delight in pleasing our customers and try to do it as much as we can.

    You’ve tasked us with responding to you and we have tried, but unfortunately, we have not been able to find your order with the information given – even now with you inviting us to your blog. To that end, we’ve asked you to call us so that the problems with your order can be corrected. We understand that you did not place the order, but as the recipient, we certainly want to make sure you are satisfied just as much as the sender.

    It is true that we had a few spikes in call volume that caused our 800 number to have unusually long waits, but the number we invited you to call was a direct line to our corporate office where I work with Jaynee (she is real) and just a few other people. It does not sound at all like the problem with this order has been appropriately addressed by us, and we would love to talk it over with you or Andy. Once again, we invite you to call us at 866-526-9426. -Bill

  3. Kristin says:

    Seashell- Exactly!

    Bill- Thank you for taking the time to read my posts about this and responding personally. I didn’t mean anything against Jaynee or how she handled the responses to the complaints online (I do similar communications for my job- I COMPLETELY understand what it’s like to deal with upset customers!) I’ll try calling if I get a chance tomorrow.

    Here’s the order number- #81987283. The confirmation email that Andy forwarded me (yeah, so I know exactly how much the purchase was- romantic, huh?) says that it went through Florist Express.

  4. Pingback: The one where Proflowers makes it right | The Settlers Give it Passion

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