This past Saturday was set to be a special evening for my brother and I. Our beloved Chicago Blackhawks were in town for their single trip to Los Angeles for the season. Neither of us had the chance to return to Chicago to see our family for Thanksgiving, so it was set to be our taste of home we sorely missed. Due to changing schedules (my brother supplements his income as a dog walker and sometimes has last minute walks) and limited funds, we decided to scour the secondary market for reasonable tickets the day of the game.
My brother found two tickets on Vivid Seats for a suite that weren’t too expensive compared to the seats available in the 300 level (nosebleeds as my dad would call them). It was a little more than we had planned to spend, but we splurged, excited for our first opportunity to sit in a suite. So excited, in fact, that we got to the game over an hour early. What follows is not a happy story about seeing my favorite team battle to overtime and picking up a point against one of our biggest foes, the LA Kings.
Instead, we encountered a long, frustrating and disappointing process that resulted in my brother and I not attending the game and a customer support horror story for the ages. The tl;dr (too long;didn’t read) version is this: two calls to customer support left my brother and me without two working tickets to the game and no guarantee of a refund. So how did Vivid Seats customer support fail us and their biggest competitor win the day with superior support? Read on.
— Andy Shore (@AndyShore) November 27, 2016
More like Vivid CHEATS! Am I right, @VividSeats?!
— Andy Shore (@AndyShore) November 27, 2016
In two calls with the support agents at Vivid Seats, the only outcome was that they couldn’t help us in that moment. They refused to offer us replacement tickets, despite their website saying 100% buyer guarantee and “your tickets will be valid and authentic.” To top it off, the support agents told me that they could not guarantee a refund, given that we didn’t have any documentation that one ticket wasn’t working. They also offered no suggestion as to how I could receive such documentation or what they would accept as documentation. I was left angry and saddened.
Your Competition Is Paying Attention
I took to Twitter, wanting nobody else to ever experience the same feelings. During my Twitter rant, I mentioned that nothing like that had ever happened with StubHub and that I was confident they would have resolved my issue. I barely slept Saturday night, still too angry to settle in for a good night’s rest. I awoke to a tweet from StubHub, asking me to Direct Message my email address and zip code. Before long, they had DMed me to apologize for my experience and asked if I minded that they credited a substantial (to me) amount of money to my account. Amazing! They said I’d been a longtime customer and that they were sorry for the events the night prior.
@AndyShore Sorry to hear you had any issues though! DM w/ your email and zip code sometime if you get a chance ?
— TeamStubHub (@TeamStubHub) November 27, 2016
StubHub wasn’t even involved and they had already taken steps to make me feel better than Vivid Seats had even attempted. I assured StubHub that I would never be using Vivid Seats again and that I wouldn’t let my younger brother make the same mistake too. They responded with some additional joking about the older brother/younger brother dynamic and wished me a good rest of my weekend.
The lesson here? Think about the cost of good customer support. StubHub made a small gesture and guaranteed a loyal customer for life. I go to several concerts, music festivals and sporting events every year. At 32 years old, that’s (hopefully) a lot more events I will be searching for on their website.
If you don’t believe me, in a 2015 Aspect Consumer Experience Survey, 75% of those polled said that they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. Not only that but an estimated $41 billion is lost each year by U.S. companies due to poor customer service, according to NewVoiceMedia. The numbers speak for themselves.
For Vivid Seats, they’re a competitor that is playing catch up with StubHub. Now, not only am I displeased with what happened and their customer support, I don’t know that I’d ever trust using their service again. Had they either offered my brother and I an apology and better seats than we’d purchased or a complete refund and worse seats, we’d be happy. Instead, we missed attending the game. Nothing, short of a time machine, would seem just.
Not only could Vivid Seats not resolve the issue at hand, but their customer support allowed a competitor beat them to a resolution. They lost the battle and the war all at once.
Other Lessons To Be Learned
In this example, Vivid Seats is a company which resells tickets for events at night and/or on the weekends. They need a customer support system in place to handle that. Their response that they would send us a form that they would then respond to in 1-3 business days shows they do not have that system in place to handle these sort of mishaps. Lack of consideration to the ways in which (and times in which) your customers may require support is setting your business up for failure.
Consider this story when you’re training your own customer support team. Vivid Seats lost sight of the fact that my brother and I were simply fans, trying to see our favorite team. In doing so, they lost a customer for good. It’s now days later and I’m still angry enough to discuss the situation with my boss and asked to turn it into a lesson for our readers on the importance of quality customer support. Make sure your support team never loses sight of your customers as people who have hopes and goals that you can help them achieve.
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