Supporting Small Businesses in the Outdoor Industry | A Tale of Customer Service

I always try to support “Mom and Pop” companies, especially when it is in the outdoor, hunting or shooting industry. I also acknowledge the challenges of being a small business. Here lately, I seem to have misplaced my sense of humor regarding some of their customer service. Or could it be that they’ve misplaced customer service?

I called to order some camo gear a while back, and the jovial voice on the other end chuckles and says, “We’re out of size extra small. However, our gear runs small, so I’m sure a medium will work for you.” Isn’t that customer “servicely” of her to offer a substitute? Possibly, except that the gear wasn’t for me, and I was ordering size XS because we needed size XS. I’m not laughing.

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I’ve chosen to leave the names of these companies out because it’s not my goal to bash a company. I hope to inspire them to train their employees in the area of customer service. Happy customers will brag about you and come back to spend more money.

In another situation, I take the friendly person out of the equation by ordering online. As I maneuver through the checkout process, I  come to the confirmation, prior to putting in my designated ship to address. YIKES! I haven’t even received an email confirmation of the order yet, but in a panic, immediately phone the company.

Here’s where that misplaced customer service starts. Guess what? They’re not open on the weekend. “Whew!” I think. This must be a small company, which means I have time to capture the order prior to shipment. I leave a voicemail, stating the situation and include my order number, proper address, and phone number. I also send an email. Then I wait for Monday.

Mid-morning on Monday I receive a voicemail from the company. “We received your message, but we’ve already printed a UPS label. If you call us back right away, we may be able to change the address.”

WAIT!!! What?!

I tell you I need to change the shipping address, but you go ahead and put the package in the outgoing mail?

If I were in customer service, I would probably pull the package aside and await the call back. I would even note that if I didn’t hear back, I’d make another follow-up call, but that’s just me.

Upon listening to the voicemail, I return the call. When the young lady on the other end answers, I’m relieved because it’s the same one who left the voicemail. I’m sure she’ll recall the order and help me out, right away. I introduce myself and give the background on my situation. She’s acknowledges that she’s familiar with the order. Then she says, “Did you also send an email about this?”

“Cha-ching!” customer service has arrived. Or so I thought.

Next, I hear, “I need your order number.” Okay. I guess I’m familiar, but not that familiar. I read her my order number. She then reads me the incorrect shipping address and says she can try to put a new ship to address on it.

I’m thinking, “How big is this company, that this girl cannot walk back to shipping and pull the box?” and then I think, “Don’t they have phones, computers and internet systems?  Can’t she call, message or do something, to tell someone to hold the package?”

She asks for the new shipping address. I give her the address, which I’ve lived at for over a decade. The girl replies, “That’s not coming up as a valid address. We’ll have to ship it to the original one.”

OKAY! Customer service jut went from bad to worse. Wait. I mean there is entirely NO CUSTOMER SERVICE.

Couldn’t this young lady ask me to repeat the address, as it’s not coming up in her system? Did she have a typo in there? Did she use abbreviations, that the system doesn’t recognize? I will never know.

I told her, as politely as I could on a Monday morning, “This really seems to be a hassle. I think I’d like to cancel this order.” To which she replies, “Okay.” WOW! Just WOW! You can cancel and order, that is already at the shipping station with the wrong address, but you can’t change the address?

WOW! Just WOW! You can cancel and order, that is already at the shipping station with the wrong address, but you can’t change the address? When it’s easier to cancel an order than help a customer correct a mistake, this is an example of a customer service fail.

I’ve had similar issues with the likes of Amazon and other large companies and achieved greater results in an instant. Small companies wonder how to retain customers and grow their businesses. I’ll tell you the key, CUSTOMER SERVICE. Take care of the customer because they’re the ones who keep you going. Maybe this young lady was having a Monday of her own, but it cost the business a customer.

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Mia Anstine is an outdoor writer, licensed outfitter, hunting guide, life coach, keynote speaker, and range safety officer, firearms instructor, and archery instructor. She is the founder of MAC Outdoors and Host of the MAC Outdoors Podcast. 

Mia Anstine strives to encourage others to get outside, hunt, fish, shoot, and survive life with others in a positive way.

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Mia Anstine
MAC Outdoors LLC
PO Box 31
Ignacio, CO 81137-0031 

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