Being a frequent traveler, I can tell you I’m not often impressed with customer service. The number of times I’ve heard, "I'm sorry, this is our policy" or "There's nothing I can do" in the last week alone have led to more than a few private outbursts in my living room. And while I often threaten to expose these anti-customer sentiments, I never do.
But this time I'm sticking by my promise to "spread it all over the web" and "to tell anyone who will listen".
Long story short, I saw a pair of shoes on a model while browsing Banana Republic's website. I couldn’t find them for purchase anywhere. I instituted the help of a friend and fellow shoe-fanatic, but after searching several online shoe sites her only solution was, "Call Zappos." I mean we’ve all heard the now famous pizza story, where the Zappos customer service rep found several pizza delivery options for a hungry traveler in a hotel room. Being that my hunger was for shoes, calling Zappos seemed rational - so I called.
A cheerful woman named Ashotta greeted me and after a few minutes searching Zappos.com, she placed me on hold so she could do a few other searches. She came back on the line and said, “I have Banana Republic customer service on the line. I think we found the shoe. What’s your size?” I thought surely she would have passed me off at this point, but she didn't, so I did my best to keep my composure and respond as if this level of service comes at no surprise.
She placed me on hold for another minute and came back, "I'm so sorry. I need your zip code too. They’re sold out online, but they’re available in a few stores. I want to see if we can find one close to you." A few moments later she was back (even complimenting Banana Republic's customer service for being so helpful) and gave me a list of three stores in my area telling me to hurry and call because "they’re really cute shoes and they only have a few left!"
In full disclosure, I’m sick and there is speculation that my raspy voice and hacking cough may have won me a few sympathy points.
Or maybe Ashotta’s just rocking the Zappos core values. Zappos empowered their employee to help a customer make a purchase with a competing company. Crazy? Maybe. But then again, with all of the customer service nightmares I could have shared, I chose to write about the exceptional service I received from Zappos. And it doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to guess who my next online shoe purchase will be with.
Prior to contacting Zappos, I emailed Banana Republic and about 15 hours after Zappos located the shoe, this was their response (I’m thinking Zappos should get a commission on the sale):
“Thanks for your inquiry regarding the shoes worn by the model for the Banana Republic outfits we love. We apologize for the difficulties you've experienced while searching for this item. Please know that, in most cases, our models are permitted to provide their own footwear for photo shoots. As a result, we may not always have the exact pair displayed on our models. We apologize for any disappointment this may cause.