[This is a guest post from TampaSlim in Portland, who has been a Costco member since 1991 (impressive, huh?). You may recall that I mentioned him in my post about the Costco.com Review Policy. His guest post adds another voice to the Costco.com Review Policy discussion and an interesting take on what could be behind the problems.]
Recently I wrote about the Costco Online Review Process telling Costco to step it up and improve this obvious lacking area. But I think I know why they are lagging behind in the “online review process.” Giving them the benefit of the doubt I’ve come up with a possible reason.
When you go to any Costco – you get excellent service primarily due to the human interaction, a physical interface. One time I returned an old BBQ Grill I purchased when it started rusting. I live in the Pacific Northwest and the reason I bought the grill was because it was Stainless Steel. It was in horrible shape with leftover food particles on the grill and dust and dirt everywhere. My son was so embarrassed to see me return it, he wouldn’t even walk into the store with me. But I was upset that the SS had rusted and well…. SS shouldn’t rust! I wheeled it up to the employee who fought hard to suppress her snickers at my lame excuse about why I brought it back. To be honest, I had trouble keeping a straight face also. Still they NEVER gave me any guff and treated me in a professional manner. “Do you want to go get another one?” Bingo – another satisfied customer!!!
When you order something from Costco, online – it’s a simple straightforward process. Click here, yes, thank you, now your order is sent to a warehouse where a person packages and sets up delivery. No human interaction with the exception of handling and delivery.
But when you write a review, someone reads it before posting. Someone has to make a decision regarding the post. Is it up to our company standards? Is it clean? Will members be helped by this information? Are there 3 other reviews? (Horrible idea by the way) etc.
However, I think the snag might be WHO is actually in charge of reading reviews and NOT the process itself. Sure they can fine-tune it a bit, but here’s my thinking process, bare with me.
By nature, the computer world is a very cold and impersonal world. Generally you have “techies” running it. It’s binary (a series of 1’s and 0’s – if yes then this – if no then that.) I know this world because my son’s (I have three) live in this world. They run online businesses. Sometimes, I marvel at their impersonal reply to other online people and they get away with it. Life skills, which an older generation has honed for years, are sometimes absent. Common things we take for granted might be lacking in the online world.
When you write it’s very difficult to relay meaning. Writers are gifted with choosing the right words to inflect a human touch. This gift however in the hands of a techie or non-gifted writer may short-circuit with the selection of words or protocol that can be misconstrued by the end user. Not always but sometimes this happens.
The power of Costco is not LOW PRICES. We have other warehouses that have low prices. The power of a Costco is MEMBER VALUE.
Member Value is the result of the experience or perceived experience by a member as an outcome of receiving a product. I sometimes call Costco – “COST-MO” because for the life of me I cannot walk out of that place without dropping at least $100 each time. Maybe, I went in to just get a few things and I always seem to come out with a $100 receipt. Still, I walk out with a smile on my face because I know I got VALUE as a member. Will I return? You betcha.
Costco knows about Member Value. I’m glad they know this because when I walk into my neighborhood Costco, I actually look forward to the smiles, the laughs, the customer service, and the friendlessness of the employees. I don’t get that level of service from my neighborhood Walmart or Target. Do you? Of course not!
But I’m not sure the online area of Costco knows about Member Value yet. They are still sitting in their dark, windowless basement craters in Kirkland, sipping Lattes and staring at computer monitor screens, living in their binary world…..( a series of 1’s and 0’s – if yes then this – if no then that.)
So it may come as a surprise to all that I wrote something entitled “In Defense of Costco.” But it’s really small potatoes. If that is the worst problem we experience with the Costco Corporation then we should all be exhilarated.
PS – Now if they’d give me a couple thousand dollars I’d sit down with their techies and “interface” with them and tell them about this life lesson…. (just teasing of course). (Costco call me……..I need the work) hahaha