Tuesday 15 Apr 2008
Last week, Mike Blumenthal blogged about hurdles being put in his way by a hotel asking for customer reviews. I’m finding myself in a similar situation with a popular moving/storage company called PODS and I think the issues I’m facing with them are worth noting.
I heard about PODS from my sister (good old word of mouth marketing). They offer an interesting service. They deliver a storage container to your house, you fill it up, and they come take it away and drive it to your new home or a storage unit when you’re ready. I decided I wanted to learn more about how this worked and I had some specific questions I wanted answers to.
Clearly, care has gone into the Pods site. They’ve got videos, testimonials and all those kinds of confidence-building elements I like to see.
But, try as I might, I could not find any reference to how large the containers are. Bigger than a bread box? As big as a moving van? Bigger? My apologies to PODS if this information is on there somewhere, but after a good 15 minutes on the site, I still couldn’t find it.
So, I decided I’d fill out their form to get a quick quote on how much it would cost to move house from Point A to Point B. I seldom fill out forms…I don’t like giving out my email address because of the risk of being put on mailing lists…but I did want to get a sense of costs, so I made the choice to enter my data this time around. I liked the fact that the form had a zipcode lookup in case I didn’t know what it would be for my hypothetical new address. Lots of people who are moving likely don’t know their future zipcode until they settle in. So, I liked that part of the process.
What I did not like was what happened when I’d filled in all the blanks and hit enter. I was taken to a screen informing me that I needed to call PODS to get the quote that the form had promised me.
A little red flag rose up in my mind at that moment. I felt as though I’d just given away my personal information for the good of someone’s database…not for my own benefit. This was a very poor trust signal. But, having made this much of a commitment to learn about PODS, I found their number and called them.
Unfortunately, there was no one there to answer my call. This was in the evening, to be sure, but my feelings of trust eroded away a degree more realizing they don’t have 24 hour phone service. I expect this from a national company that is dealing with something as important as customers’ personal belongings. Imagine your family sitting on the steps of your new home in Lincoln, Nebraska at midnight on moving day, waiting for your POD to arrive with all of your stuff in it and it never shows up. You try to phone PODS to find out where it is, but there is no one there to take you call. That’s not a situation I’d want to be in, but it was the one I imagined once I understood there was no phone service.
However, it was then that I noticed they offer a Live Chat function on their website.
“Okay,” I said.”Maybe the Live Chat operator won’t be able to give me a quote for my hypothetical move, but they should at least be able to tell me how big the containers are.”
No such luck, unfortunately. The Live Chat was also unavailable.
So, here I am left having filled out PODS’ form, made a call, tried to speak with a Live Chat tech, and I am none the wiser as to how much PODS costs and whether their containers will fit in my narrow, country driveway.
My interest in this was so keen, I tried calling a bit earlier in the evening the next day and tried accessing the Live Chat again. I got the same response – nobody at home.
I don’t conduct personal business during the day. That’s work time. Most people are in the same boat. If, for some reason, PODS can’t staff a 24 hour phone line or Live Chat, they should at least make their form return a quote instead of using it for some other, undisclosed purpose. As it is, the form fails to meet my expectations as a user. It lacks transparency and leads to disappointment. I bet I’m not the only customer that has been turned away by this usability/functional issue.
So, where does that leave me? I’m still interested in the PODS service. A look at the SERPs shows me that they have competitors. PODS ought to know that they are making potential customers look elsewhere in hopes of finding a quote and basic information about these mobile containers. A few changes to their system could work some serious wonders for their bottom line.