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May 01, 2013

Great Customer Service Cannot Overcome Mediocre Products

Image representing Shutterfly as depicted in C...

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This is a great question for a business school class, but there are also real life situations where this is more than a mental exercise. The very survival of a business and the livelihood of all its employees can hang in the balance.

My case in point for this blog post is Shutterfly.  I have been a Shutterfly member/customer since it first started around the time my younger son was born. Over the years I have stored literally thousands of pictures and videos on Shutterfly, ordered prints and recently created share sites for all of the sports teams I coach. 

Shutterfly has some great things you can do and buy with your digital pictures. I never bought a lot of products, but they looked very nice. 

The situation changed a couple of months ago when I decided to order some photo products with photos from oldest son’s Bar Mitzvah.  I ordered some larger prints, leather bound photo books, acrylic prints, etc.  I think the prices Shutterfly charges are fair and didn’t have a problem with them.

Unfortunately about half of the products I have ordered have had to be refunded or returned.  Each and every time the folks at Shutterfly have been great. In fact on one of them they said my photo book was being delayed, but they were sending me a free cheaper photo book to make up for it. That one came with a mistake and they sent me another free one.  After a few weeks they finally sent me the original book I ordered and when it came, it was literally falling apart. 

Again the customer service folks were very nice. They gladly refunded the price and told me to keep the book. But frankly after spending 10’s of hours working on the book, I was disappointed that it was all for nothing.

I really want to keep using Shutterfly. I want to be a customer and buy products so they stay in business. I like the company and think their customer service is tops. But how long and how many times can you put up with sub-quality products before enough is a enough?  What do you think?  Customer service can make up for some product issues, but when does it tip over to the point of no return?

Am interested to you hear your thoughts on this.

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