Why Is Everybody So Happy?

20 Sep 2001 /

This is a story about customer satisfaction in the Internet age.

Today’s Good Morning Silicon Valley brings this provocative item:

Problems with Webvan? Mercury News reporter Joelle Tessler would like to talk to former Webvan customers dissatisfied with the company’s service. If that’s you, please drop her an e-mail at jtessler@sjmercury.com

Is this for real?! Well, there’s one way to find out . . .

From: Paul Epps
Sent: Thursday, September 20, 2001 2:35 PM
To: jtessler@sjmercury.com
Subject: webvan

Are you preparing an article on dissatisfied Webvan customers? How do you know they're dissatisfied before you've talked to them? Who can the *satisfied* Webvan customers talk to? I'm in no way affiliated with Webvan, nor was I a customer, but this doesn't seem fair.

Apologies in advance if I've misread your intentions.


From: Tessler, Joelle
Sent: Thursday, September 20, 2001 2:39 PM
To: Paul Epps
Subject: RE: webvan

I have been working on a story about Webvan for about 6-7 weeks now (have spoken with more than 40 people who worked there) and I am learning that they had some pretty serious problems in the Oakland warehouse. Because it was so highly automated, things would break and everything would come to a halt. I keep hearing about orders that never made it out the door, orders that were hours late or cancelled altogether, orders in which half the totes were missing and so on. This is all coming from the couriers, customer service representatives, warehouse workers, etc. But just about every customer I have ever spoken to loved Webvan and I can't figure it out... If I can't find dissatisfied customers, I will say that in the story.


From: Paul Epps
Sent: Thursday, September 20, 2001 2:54 PM
To: Tessler, Joelle
Subject: RE: webvan

Wow, what a quick response! Here's a theory for you: It doesn't take perfection to satisfy people where Web technology is concerned. They still have such low expectations that they're amazed when it works at all.


From: Tessler, Joelle
Sent: Thursday, September 20, 2001 3:11 PM
To: Paul Epps
Subject: RE: webvan

Well, some of that was cut and pasted since I've had to explain this over and over... You're probably right. A lot of customers have written back to say they did have some problems, but still loved the service.

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