How having a little fun helped 1800CONTACTS.com give me fantastic customer service

Let’s get one thing straight, we live in a world where the customer is always right. Heck, most of the time even when customers aren’t right they still feel like they should be treated like they are. I guess that it only seems right to feel this way, doesn’t it? I mean, if we’re spending our hard-earned cash on a product or service then they had better go above and beyond to make sure that we, the consumer is as happy as humanly possible. Sorta makes senses, right?

With all that being said I personally think that some people can get a little too carried away with how they treat some of the customer service people who have to deal with their company’s day-to-day issues. You see these types of front-line customer-facing employees pretty much everywhere you go. It could be someone working the register at McDonald’s drive-thru, a Starbucks barista or even more common nowadays a phone or email customer service rep. No matter where you see them there’s one thing that’s true across the board, they have to put up with a lot of crazy people on a daily basis (see McDonald’s Chicken Nugget drive-thru lady on YouTube or below to see what I mean).

Unlike the women in that video I’m sure that some customer reps actually deserve to deal with some of the upset customers that they come in contact with (that’s just part of the cost in doing business), but no matter what has happened I don’t think that anyone has the right to treat them in a way that’s demeaning or disrespectful. They’re just doing their job and most of the time they had nothing to do with the reason why the customer is having a problem in the first place. They’re just at the wrong place at the wrong time, that’s all.

I bring all of this up because whenever I’m dealing with any type of customer service employee I try to make sure to not only treat them with respect, but I also try to break up some of the monotony of their day with a little bit of unexpected weirdness. A large part of my job at isocket is handling customer support so I definitely have some empathy for the types of things that customer service people deal with on a daily basis. This is why when I needed to contact the customer service peeps over at 1800CONTACTS.com I decided to have a little fun with the emails and chats I had with them.

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I didn’t really need to include this screenshot, but I LOVE that cheesy photo

Let me give you a little background. A couple of weeks ago I needed some new contacts so I shipped out a couple of boxes to my old address in San Francisco. I totally did it on accident and when I completed the order I had the bright idea that they would still probably find their way to me at my new address on their own. I mean, my mail was still being forwarded, so why wouldn’t my contacts be forwarded, too? Well I’ll tell you why — when you’re shipping something with UPS or FedEX and use the wrong address they don’t simply forward it to your new address. They have no idea where your new address even is so it’s pretty much impossible.

It took me a couple of weeks to realize this (yeah, I’m a little slow), but when I did I had a couple of thoughts go through my head. First, I felt like an idiot for thinking that my contacts would still get to me even though I used the wrong address. Second, I realized that I needed to get in touch with the 1800CONTACTS customer service people asap to see what I needed to do to get the contacts that I has already ordered.

After I realized the mistake I had made I headed on over to the 1800CONTACTS website and first sent out a quick email to their customer support team. I really wanted to make sure they knew how I felt about the situation and that I was truly concerned for the safety of my lost contacts. Here’s what I wrote:

–Original Message–
From: ryan.hupfer@gmail.com
Date: 2/25/2011 1:24:02 PM
To: info@1800contacts.com
Subject: Status of Order

Ok, so I was an idiot and ended up shipping my new contacts to my old address. Is there any way that I can see what has happened to them? I don’t want them to be walking the streets of San Francisco all lonely and depressed. Who knows what kinds of trouble is just waiting for a brand new box of contacts in this city…it’s scary when you think about it.

At least I bought two boxes so that they can look to each other for support when times get tough.

But I don’t want to think about all of the bad things that could be happening and want to try to get them home to me as soon as possible. Please help us re-unite and make everything well in the world of me and my contacts!

Thanks for your help and I hope to hear from you soon.

Ryan Hupfer

After that I noticed that they also had a live chat feature (which we also use at isocket), so I figured I should give that a shot, too. Only this time instead of getting help as myself I decided that I would chat with the customer service rep as a box of contacts. Here’s how I started the chat session:

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When the chat first started I was curious to see how the rep would react to my harmless fun and I wanted to see if she would ever refer to me as a Ryan Hupfer’s lost box of contacts instead of Ryan Hupfer the customer. Throughout the chat session I stayed true to being a box of contacts and as you can see below in the dialogue the rep who I was chatting with started to play along just a little bit. Here are some of my favorite highlights of the chat.

At this point she wasn’t breaking the script, so I kept trying even harder:

Ryan Hupfer’s contacts: so I’m lost
Ryan Hupfer’s contacts: and I’ve been shipped to the wrong place
Shelley : HI, Ryan. Welcome.
Ryan Hupfer’s contacts: (I’m a box of contacts from 1800contacts by the way) — I just hopped on a free connection at a library
Ryan Hupfer’s contacts: so Ryan apparently shipped me and another box to the wrong address
Shelley : I am so sorry your lenses were lost! I am happy to help correct the shipping address on your account and get a new package sent to you.
Ryan Hupfer’s contacts: any way that we can make our way back to him?
Shelley : Okay, no problem.
Ryan Hupfer’s contacts: I’m hoping that Ryan has updated his contact info
Shelley : One moment while I take a look at your account.

This is when she let me know that new contacts were going to be sent out with next day shipping (which is awesome). Of course, I was still trying to get her to acknowledge me as a Ryan’s lost box of contacts, which she finally did in the last couple of  lines below — sorta:

Ryan Hupfer’s contacts: Ok, so you’re sending a new box of contacts to Ryan then?
Shelley : Since your other package was lost, I will send this new package to you with our next business day shipping and signature required to ensure you receive your lenses.
Shelley : Yes, that is correct.
Shelley : Will someone be in the office to sign for your package?
Ryan Hupfer’s contacts: What will happen to me and the box that’s with me since we’re lost?
Ryan Hupfer’s contacts: …and yes, someone should be at his office to sign
Ryan Hupfer’s contacts: from M-F
Shelley : Perfect.
Ryan Hupfer’s contacts: I’m still scared for what’s going to happen to me. Will I end up at your warehouse? I liked that place.
Shelley : The lost package will usually come back to us as a “return to sender” package.
Ryan Hupfer’s contacts: SWEET - I hope you’re right
Ryan Hupfer’s contacts: It’s raining and I’m getting tired
Shelley : If you end up with Ryan, then we will send a prepaid shipping label with your new lenses so you can return them back to us.
Ryan Hupfer’s contacts: Wow, that’s great — you sure do know how to treat a box of contacts
Shelley : Thank you.
Ryan Hupfer’s contacts: I knew I loved you guys
Ryan Hupfer’s contacts: you’re the best
Shelley : Thank you so much.
Ryan Hupfer’s contacts: I’m sure Ryan appreciates it, too
Ryan Hupfer’s contacts: :)

I ended up closing out the chat by telling the rep just how much Ryan will appreciate their help and then I finally break character and tell her thanks for chatting with me:

Shelley : You will receive an email confirmation as soon as your new lenses ship out to let you know they are on their way. After that, you can expect them the next business day or no later than Monday, 2/28/11.
Shelley : What else may I help you with today?
Ryan Hupfer’s contacts: You mean Ryan will receive a notification? Cool.
Ryan Hupfer’s contacts: He’ll like that.
Ryan Hupfer’s contacts: Nope, that’s it — I can;t wait to be shipped back to see my other contact friends!
Shelley : Great!
Shelley : What else may I help you with today?
Ryan Hupfer’s contacts: That’s it — you rock and thanks for playing along. :)
Shelley : You’re welcome.
Shelley : Thanks for chatting with me today.

This chat was a lot of fun and just a few minutes later I also got a response from the support email that I had sent in earlier. Who says that being a good customer and having a little fun doesn’t pay off?

Hello Ryan,

Thanks for your email today, really made my day. I have replaced your order for you and you should receive it on Monday, February 28th. If you haven’t received your order by that date please give us a call and we will take care of it for you.

If there is anything else we may help you with please don’t hesitate to let us know. You may reply to this email or contact us at 1-800-266-8228.

Keep up the great attitude and have a wonderful weekend Ryan!

Shana

1-800 CONTACTS Customer Service Representative
Phone: 1-800 CONTACTS (1-800-266-8228)
E-mail: info@1800contacts.com
Address: 51 West Center St, Orem, UT 84057

I’m definitely going to remember this the next time that I need some quick help from customer service. Who would have thought that being fun could help me get my contacts quicker? I’m sure that they would have gotten back to me even if I hadn’t put in the extra effort to be goofy, but I doubt that it would have been so quick. Besides, it’s good to know that I’m helping someone else have just a little more fun doing their job which is pretty awesome, too.

Moral of the story? Take care of customer service reps and even have a little fun with them if you want to be taken care of right back. Sounds simple enough, but much harder to implement in the heat of the “I need some customer service now!” moment.

Have any other awesome customer service stories to share? Post ‘em in the comments so that we can all see!

The Wheel of Misfortune

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Some people watch Wheel of Fortune every single night and dream about one day spinning the wheel and winning some serious cash alongside Vanna White and Pat Sajak. Other people who have never watched Wheel of Fortune (*cough* *cough*) randomly run into an audition in Las Vegas, end up getting picked to be on the show and have the worst luck, ever. I’ll let you decide which type of people we were. If you need help, check out the video of our show below or over here on YouTube.

Even though we only walked away with a consolation prize of $2,000 (see a quick recap of the game here) Stephanie and I both feel like the experience was totally worth it. We got to hang in Vegas a few times, be on one of the most popular game shows in the world, meet some amazing people, hang with Vanna and Pat and still walk away with enough cash to pay for our flights. Not a bad deal if you ask me (although we would have looked A-MA-ZING in that red Mercedes SUV).

To close out this post, here are a few awesome shots that our friend Alfred took off of his DVR recording. A few things I’d like explain — 1. I was pointing at EVERYTHING for some reason, not real sure why 2. Stephanie makes that million dollar wedge look GOOD, doesn’t she? and 3. Pat Sajak is my homeboy!

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This is the wedding photo that we decided to put on the show — check out the full version below

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What’s a Hupfer wedding without the Chicken Limo? (we took this on our first date)

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I’m not really sure why I was pointing so much, but it seemed like a good idea at the time

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Yep, Pat Sajak is my homeboy. It’s true.

Back from the Congo and how we learned to expect the unexpected

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yet another unexpected experience in the Congo

Well, it’s been about three weeks since I’ve posted any updates (whoops). I promise that it’s not because I haven’t wanted to. I would have loved to hop online and post about something about some of the incredible people I’ve met and experiences I’ve had. But, unfortunately I wasn’t able to due to the fact that there wasn’t a decent internet connection within 15-20 kilometers of where I was staying. My expectations before I left was that I’d be able to keep you updated, but one of the first things I learned after arriving to the Congo was that nothing is as you expect it to be and everything can change in a matter of minutes.

For instance, we thought that we were going to be dropped off at the airport in Gemena and head to Kinshasa around 10am last Saturday. It seemed like it would be a fairly straight forward day to me. We would get up, eat breakfast and then be notified after our jet arrived by someone at the airport so we could drive over and take off shortly after. But, like I said, things change quickly in the Congo and the night before we were planning on leaving the plans changed completely.

Mossai Sanguma, the president of the CEUM and our awesome host while being in the Congo told us that we were changing up the schedule a bit due to the fact that some head honchos from the World Bank were coming in on a private jet into Gemena and that his presence (along with many other local Congolese leaders) was needed to welcome them in. As I asked some questions about why the representives from the World Bank were making the trip to Gemena he told me that they had been working together on a $120 million dollar agriculture project that was recently approved and is set to begin soon in Gemena. It was a big investment and a big deal for the city of Gemena and the local officials wanted to make sure that the people flying in were received with a proper Congolese welcome that showed them how happy they were to see them.

Just like that our seemingly normal trip to the local airport was turned into an experience that I’ll never forget and once again what we initially expected was flipped upside down and turned 180 degrees into something completely different.

Instead of being dropped off by one of Sanguma’s drivers he ended up driving us, along with some of his most trusted church officials to the airport around 9:00am. When the guard in front of the airport saw who was driving us he quickly said hello to the president and raised the red and white striped gate so that we could park. Instead of driving into the regular parking lot we made our way to what was a type of VIP-only building that was reserved only for the who’s who of Gemena and apparently that included Sanguma. Just like the rest of trip none of us asked questions and just followed him in.

The VIP building included several nice-looking couches and a front row view of the airport runway. When we first arrived we were the first people there, but quickly more and more city officials, miltary leaders and religious represenatives made there way into the building as well. There was also a good-sized crowd forming outside of the building which was made up of the local people of Gemena. Some were playing musical instruments while others were holding huge banners and branches filled with green leaves. All of them were preparing to to sing and dance like crazy once the World Bank officials showed up. Once the band started playing I even saw one woman who was waving around a chicken while she danced and sang to the music.

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Sanguma chatting with some of the local officials in the VIP

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Stephanie, me and Joan in the airport VIP


the crowd was ready to celebrate


this woman was so excited that she was waving around a live chicken!


the band was getting the crowd fired up

As our jet arrived and was ready for us to board, the crowd only continued to get bigger and only sang louder and louder. The amount of joy and excitement was contagious and I couldn’t help but feel the joy and anticipation that they had for the arrival of their guests. Unfortunately we had to take off before they arrived, but I can only imagine the amount of celebrating that went on at that airport once they did. One thing that the Congolese people can do is celebrate and that day they were pulling out all the stops. We all felt blessed to be a part of it and like I said, it’s an experience I’ll never forget.