I am very familiar with the concept of live chat. I chat with family and friends online using Skype, Google Chat, Facebook Chat and other tools. I even use it at work to chat with my boss and coworkers. But, I had never used this tool while making an online purchase…until recently.

I tend to do most of my clothes shopping in a physical store since one brand doesn’t fit exactly the same as another brand. Why can’t clothing manufacturers standardize on sizing? Shouldn’t a medium in one brand be exactly the same as a medium in another? Um…OK, enough of my rant. I should save that for another post.200329701-001

This is true for everything I buy, except for jeans. Every pair of jeans I have is exactly the same size. No matter the brand, the size is still the same. And, that is what I wanted to buy. So, I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to do some online shopping. And, as a frequent shopper at a certain men’s clothing retailer, I was going to redeem some reward points that I had earned.

Placing the order online was easy, and in a few days, my order arrived. I opened the box and tried them on…and they didn’t fit! What? How is this possible?!? I checked the tag to make sure they shipped the correct size, and they did. Needless to say, I was a bit perturbed. But, I simply put the items back in the box, marked the return form as an exchange for a different size and shipped them back.

Well, when the new items arrived, predictably, they didn’t fit! Ugh!

That’s enough of this, I thought. I put the jeans back in the box, marked the return form as a return for credit and shipped them back. I would just redeem my reward points in the store.

A few weeks later, I went back to the website and added some shirts I wanted to check out in person into my shopping cart. But then I noticed my reward points were not there. That’s strange, considering I had already received an email from the company confirming my items were returned.

It turns out the expiration date for the reward points had since passed. Was I now going to miss out on what amounted to $150 in clothing because stuff didn’t fit?

Now, I was really mad, and also kicking myself for not making the original purchase in person. What do I do? A phone call would wake up my youngest daughter especially if I started yelling at the rep. And an email might not be seen immediately.

That’s when I noticed the small “Live Chat” button on the top of the page. Yeah, I could get immediate help and not worry about waking my sleeping child. When I clicked on the link, it quickly connected me to a live agent who asked how she could help.

I asked her about the reward points. Why weren’t they showing up in my account? What about the items I still wanted to buy? Since I had already logged in, she was easily able to access my account. And, after a few seconds, she replied that, in fact, the points were still there. It was just a glitch in their system.

57516974_5I thanked the agent and assumed that was the end of the chat session when she asked if I wanted to use the points to buy the items in my cart. I shared with her my concern about size, considering what had just happened. But, she assured me that those are “true” sizes, meaning if it was marked as “medium,” it fit like a traditional medium.

Based on that, I bought the items. When they arrived, I was again anxious. What if they didn’t fit? Would I have to go through all this again? But, the shirts actually fit. I was pleasantly surprised, but also very impressed with the agent and her knowledge of the products.

Live Chat and that knowledgeable agent saved the company from having to deal with an angry email or possibly even an angry phone call later that day. The company didn’t have to have another agent send a reply email and begin an email exchange that probably wouldn’t resolve itself for days. It also saved itself from the potential lost business if I didn’t get this situation resolved to my liking or in a timely manner. Yes, I would have definitely stopped shopping with them altogether if I felt like they took $150 from me.

I learned a lot from this experience. First, the right tool can turn a potentially disastrous customer experience into a memorable one, as Live Chat did for me. Second, companies that have knowledgeable agents can truly set themselves apart from their competition and keep customers loyal and happy. And, finally, I learned that I should do my clothes shopping in the store and only shop online for things like My Little Pony dolls. What? They’re for my daughter!