The Holy Grail of Online Commerce

Delighting customers is the holy grail of online commerce. But while it’s easier than ever to buy online, the overall customer experience can still be very frustrating. Brian Hecht, our serial entrepreneur, and advisor to many startups and digital media teams joins Hari Sreenivasan to discuss.


Delighting customers is the holy grail of online commerce, but while it's easier than ever to buy online, the overall customer experience can still be very frustrating.

Here to talk about this is Brian Hecht, our serial entrepreneur and adviser to many start-ups and digital media teams, including our own.

Brian, what are the biggest complaints that people have when it comes to online shopping?

Well, I think they fall into a few categories.

Number one is reaching the companies where they've made a purchase in an efficient way.

Number two is, you know, knowing what to say to them and how to communicate with them, and then number three is the result.

Do they actually get what they're looking for?

You know, are they being listened to, and does the outcome meet their expectations?

Okay, you're talking about a few different start-ups that are in each of these spaces.

Let's talk about that contact in customer service.

The, 'I bought something online.

Now I'm trying to have a word with the company.'

That's right.

So, that's at a company called Gladly, and if you think about it, there's so many different ways to reach out via customer service.

Of course, there's phone and e-mail, but now you can text them, you can tweet them, you can do a Facebook Messenger to them.

And it's very frustrating when you call in.

You have to give your identity, verify, tell them your problem.

If you've reached them before, you have to tell them your problem again, and it's all very frustrating, and it leads nowhere.

So this company actually brings in all of those strands of communication.

As soon as you contact them, it knows all the other ways that you've contacted them, so that the representative, whoever it is, sees your entire conversation, and they say they turn a customer-tickets thing into a conversation with the customer.


You know, it's always so frustrating when you go through the voice-response things, and you say everything, and you press in all the codes.

You get to the person on the phone, and it's, like, they just didn't get any of that information.

Like, what did I just do that for?

Right, and you have to start from square one.

You know, another frustration, I think, is when people find lower prices after they bought the product.

Yeah, that's right.

I mean, we've all done that.

You buy something online, and you're poking around the web, not even looking, and you see, 'Oh, my god. There's something for 20% less.'

There's a company that handles that for you now.

It's called Earny, E-A-R-N-Y.

Not Ernie and Bert.

That's right.

And what they do is, they actually, once you hook into them, they find all the things you've purchased online.

They scan millions of products and prices across the web, and if they find one, even if the company has, you know, a 30-day best price match, or your credit card has a 90-day price match, they actually do the application for that for you, and they actually manage the refund for you, as well.

And they give you the money back?


They take a split, but they do give you the money back, and they do this because they actually have access to your e-mail, so they see the receipts that you're getting, and then they are allowed to actually contact the company on your behalf.

And, finally, the return process can be nightmarish, and I think, for example, the inverse, because of how easy Zappos makes it to return things, a lot of people end up shopping there because it's just easy to return shoes.

That's right. That's right.

Well, there's a company called Happy Returns, and they've found that even when there's companies that have free and easy returns, there are still issues.

You still have to re-box it up with the tape and take it to the packaging store or whatever it is, and they say, 'People actually prefer to go to a physical location.'

So they have over 100 physical locations called Return Bars, where you can go in without a package, and literally, if you bought jeans online, just drop the jeans on the desk and say, 'I want to return these.'

The person has an iPad.

They take a little bit of information, and instantly, while you're standing there, you get a credit to your credit card.

But they'll do the packing for me?

They do everything for you.

And, actually, they are housed inside other stores, and the stores where they are love it because they're getting foot traffic from people who are known to buy these kinds of things.

All right.

Brian Hecht, thanks so much.

Thank you.