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(DAY 119) Shifting the Blame - When Businesses Pass on Responsibility to Service Providers

· 4 min read
Gaurav Parashar

In the new customer-centric world, businesses strive to build trust and loyalty by delivering exceptional products and services. However, some companies resort to passing on their responsibilities to vendors or service providers, leading to a breach of trust for the customer. The detrimental effects of shifting the blame are severe on customer satisfaction and brand reputation. I can vouch for it drawing upon my recent personal experiences with Urban Ladder and Birkenstock.

Right or wrong, the customer is always right.

The Breach of Trust: A Customer's Perspective

When a customer chooses a particular brand, they expect a seamless experience from start to finish. However, businesses that shift their responsibilities onto vendors or service providers create a disjointed and frustrating experience for customers. I recently encountered two such incidents that left me disappointed and questioning the integrity of these brands.

Urban Ladder's Sheesham Bed Saga

During my quest for a queen-size sheesham bed, I placed an order with Urban Ladder, a renowned furniture brand. However, the delivery process was marred with delays, miscommunication, and lack of coordination between Urban Ladder and their logistics partner. When I reached out to Urban Ladder's customer service for assistance, they shifted the blame to the logistics company, absolving themselves of any responsibility. This experience left me feeling frustrated and betrayed as a customer.

Birkenstock's E-Gift Card Mishap

In another instance, I decided to gift my friend an e-gift card from Birkenstock, a popular footwear brand. Unfortunately, the e-gift card was not delivered on time, causing inconvenience and disappointment to both my friend and me. When I contacted Birkenstock's customer support, they also deflected responsibility by stating that the issue lay with their third-party service provider. This experience not only tarnished Birkenstock's reputation but also affected my perception of their brand.

The Negative Impact on Brand Reputation

Passing on responsibility to service providers not only breaks the trust of customers but also dilutes the brand's reputation. Customers associate their experiences with the brand itself, regardless of the involvement of vendors or service providers. When businesses fail to take ownership and resolve issues promptly, customers may perceive the brand as untrustworthy, unreliable, and indifferent to their concerns. This erosion of reputation can result in a loss of customers and damage to long-term brand loyalty.

Thank your customer for complaining and mean it. Most will never bother to complain. They’ll just walk away.

Learnings for Customer-Facing Businesses

  1. Take Ownership of the Customer Experience: As a business, it is vital to take full responsibility for the end-to-end customer journey. Customers expect transparency, accountability, and timely resolutions when issues arise. Avoid shifting blame to vendors or service providers, and instead proactively address customer concerns.
  2. Ensure Effective Vendor Management: While working with vendors or service providers, establish clear expectations, communication channels, and performance metrics. Regularly evaluate their performance to maintain quality standards and ensure a consistent customer experience.
  3. Communicate Openly and Transparently: Effective communication is key to maintaining customer trust. Be honest and transparent with customers about any challenges or issues, and provide regular updates on their resolution. By demonstrating transparency, businesses can minimize the impact of potential disruptions.

Customer service shouldn’t just be a department, it should be the entire company.

Passing on responsibility to vendors or service providers will have severe repercussions for businesses. It erodes customer trust, damages brand reputation, and leads to dissatisfaction among consumers. The personal experiences I had with Urban Ladder and Birkenstock highlight the importance of taking ownership and prioritizing the customer experience. By learning from these examples and implementing effective vendor management, businesses can build stronger customer relationships and foster a positive brand image.