JCPenney Brings Omnichannel Customer Service to Life

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Back in the 90s, JCPenney launched its "Fashion Comes to Life" campaign in an effort to refresh its public image. Like many brands, however, the retailer has found cause to reinvent itself repeatedly over the past quarter century. Yet, while the years haven't necessarily been kind to the department store chain, times have allowed its omnichannel customer service to grow and flourish.
Omnichannel

Back in the 90s, JCPenney launched its "Fashion Comes to Life" campaign in an effort to refresh its public image. Like many brands, however, the retailer has found cause to reinvent itself repeatedly over the past quarter century. Yet, while the years haven't necessarily been kind to the department store chain, times have allowed its omnichannel customer service to grow and flourish.Prior to the Internet, our JCPenney orders originated from physical catalogs and phone calls. (Yes, that's how long it's been since anyone in my family has engaged with the brand.) But when we found an ad for the store's latest sale on our doorstep, its direct mail efforts finally caught my attention once again. With the promise of additional markdowns and shipping deals at my fingertips, I ordered two items that would inevitably arrive in separate packages.

By the end of that week, one item had already arrived. However, according to the shipment tracking info provided, both items had been delivered. Figuring that the second package had merely gotten separated from the first, I waited patiently. Three days later, I threw caution to the wind and contacted JCPenney via live chat. Savannah, the agent who replied, was pleasantly apologetic and offered to reorder the item, no questions asked. Because the item was now backordered, she also provided three $10 savings codes to make up for the extended wait. (You can't go wrong with free money, now can you?) She sent along the confirmation number, assured me I wouldn't be charged double, and signed off once all was resolved.

Surprisingly, the item shipped much sooner than expected, thereby turning its original ship date into the delivery date instead. However, before the package ever arrived, I noticed one glaring issue--I had been charged again. Because I discovered this problem well before the live chat agents were available, I opted to fill out the online inquiry form, but quickly grew discontent when I discovered I'd have to wait 1-3 days for an answer. Thus, I tweeted about my situation. Within minutes, JCPenney's customer service account responded with the department's direct email address. I resubmitted my complaint and received an email response within the hour. Customer service apologized and informed me that the total was already in the process of being credited to my account.

When the item finally arrived, the box was incredibly tattered and took little effort to dismantle. (Perhaps the first attempt met an even more severe fate and lost its box all together? That would explain why it never found its way to my door.) Regardless, this experience may just hold the record for least amount of stress incurred. With just my order number, JCPenney's agents were able to track my interactions across channels and present an easy experience that lightened my load. I didn't have to fight to prove my case. JCPenney's willingness to rectify both errors demonstrated their trust in me, thereby strengthening my trust in them.

Consumers rarely boast about their great customer experiences, as most prefer to complain about those times they've been wronged, but when you can actively see how each channel weaves into one another, it becomes a victory for all parties involved and should not be ignored.

EXPERT OPINION
EXPERT OPINION