Has The Holiday Customer Experience Bar Been Raised?

As I sojourned through my holiday shopping adventure, several random ideas struck me that I hope to explore through the next couple of posts here.
First, I wanted to share a couple of shopping experiences that got this whole train of thought started.  After all, this is a blog about customer service stories.  
Five days before Christmas, my daughter decided to announce, to anyone that would listen, that her brother was getting a Wii U as a gift.  We had not planned on the big man delivering one of these.  But, since my three year old declared it with such conviction, we figured we had no choice.  So, as I sat at dinner in Applebee’s (shocker), I went on Walmart.com to order said mind-melting console.  They had it.  And they said it would be delivered in time for Christmas.  
Just after I hit the order confirmation button though, I had this pit in my stomach.  “This is Walmart.  Are they really going to deliver?  Should I go buy one someplace else just to hedge my bet?”  I admit.  I had very little confidence that the delivery promise would be met.  Even though I’d ordered from Walmart.com before and had nothing but positive experiences.  This was Christmas.  This was my kid.  I couldn’t take that chance.  Oh! The guilt.  The years of therapy down the road.
So, for three days, I lamented.  I rolled the dice.  And then.  The FedEx truck pulled up in front of the house.  And, out popped the driver.  Box in hand embossed with the Walmart.com logo.  It came!  With two days to spare!  It came!  
Step back a week prior.  A friend of mine introduced me to this new iPad stylus.  I’m on a constant quest for the perfect one (I have a computer bag full of various models).  So, based on his recommendation, I logged onto Amazon Prime and ordered it in the middle of a business meeting – at 4pm.  The next morning, the delivery driver arrived – at 9am.  I couldn’t imagine what he was here for.  He delivered the stylus.  17 hours from order to delivery.  17 hours!
So the point is this.  In each case, I had different expectations.  The bar was set lower in my mind for Walmart.  While Amazon Prime has made a commitment to a higher level of customer experience.  But, in both cases, they knocked it out of the park.  I don’t necessarily now have the same expectation every time I order something from either of these on line retailers (the notion that customer expectations have to be continually be exceeded).  However, I now have a greater level of confidence in doing business with both of these companies.  Not every transaction has the high stakes of Christmas.  Nor, do I need every item delivered in 17 hours.  
But I know that, if required, these companies can deliver.  For that, they are both on my nice list.
I’d love to hear your favorite Christmas shopping experience.  What made it special?


  1. Barry,

    I had a similar WiiU story that I wrote about, except mine didn't go quite as well (not with either of those retailers). In the end, though, I did have it in time for Christmas.

    These are two great brand expectations stories. And yet, at the same time, that confidence level you get based on expectations met or exceeded is so delicate and can be shattered with one bad experience. I doubt it would happen with either Walmart.com or Amazon – I've had consistently great experiences with both online stores.

    Happy New Year!

    Annette :-)

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