01/15/15 Marketing Case #3: Auto-Parts Case
The major problem Adam encountered with autoparts.com was that he ordered a rear wheel bearing from their site and was promised delivery in 4-5 days; however, two weeks from the date of purchase Adam had not yet received the part. He wrote an email to the customer service department inquiring about the delay and received a reply indicating that that they had noted the problem, were researching the matter, and would get back to him within one week. After another two weeks had passed and Adam still had not received his order or an additional reply from customer service, he wrote another email conveying his disappointment and instructed them to cancel the order and refund the cost of his purchase. After which, Adam received the same exact auto-generated reply from autoparts.com that he had initially received in response to his first inquiry. Four weeks had elapsed and he still did not have the bearing or a proper response from autoparts.com.
Autopart.com did not do a thorough job of doing enough research to adequately forecast the number of orders customers would be placing when they rolled out the new website. As a result, an overwhelming response to autoparts.com far exceeded their anticipated levels of online purchases. The president told Adam that, “it really is a guessing game trying to figure out demand and pricing issues”. He admitted that they likely priced their products too inexpensively as well. Pricing products too inexpensively will contribute to the volume of sales, especially in such a competitive online industry. Additionally, autoparts.com either listed the bearing as in stock when it was not, or they underestimated the time it would take to order and receive the product from a third party. Either way, the cause of Adam’s frustration was a result of two things: 1) not receiving the product in the promised timeframe, 2) The poor, generic customer service response he received.
Autoparts.com is sure to continue having numerous customer complaints until they make some major adjustments to their inventory, pricing, and delivery options. In the meantime, they should increase customer service personnel to a level that will ensure each customer complaint or inquiry is personally researched and responded to within 24 hours. These standards can be implemented based on customer email metrics such that the number of inquiries/complaints received on a daily basis multiplied by the average research/resolution time equals the number of customer…