| Decathlon support woes | how not to pursue your metrics |

Decathlon is wonderful company I have long been a customer of. I can attest to quality and affordability of a bunch of products. Used to be true about their after-sales service as well.

But they seemed to have run into the typical nemesis - scaling and short-sighted goals. Any brand while expanding rapidly experiences some growing pains. But the problem is multiplied when the processes that were well-oiled, start breaking slowly because the brand tries to automate things. Everything. And slowly, the process that used to help serve customers, start serving some internal dashboards tracking some misguided metrics.

For example, after recently placed an order on their website to be delivered to a tier-2 city in India - it was just one obstacle after another. From the shipment never arriving to the website continuing to display a display a expected delivery day in the past.

Part 1: Broken integration between website and logistics partner's systems The extent of the incompetent and broken process was so complete that while the shipment languished in the Delhivery's (their delivery partner) warehouse for an inexplicable five days, the order status failed to progress beyond "Delivering on May 13". What was even more bewildering was in the meantime, Delhivery has already marked the shipment as "Return to origin", as early as May 12. Decathlon's website has no idea.

In fact today, as I write this, it's May 16, and the poor website shamelessly continues to display the status as "Delivering on Saturday 13 May 2023." Seriously, Decathlon?

Part 2: Convoluted policies not tested for all use-cases - No cancellation options, after an order leaves the warehouse, leaving customers unable to cancel it through the website if shipment is delayed, as in this case - No "Return Product" option either, as the product is yet to be delivered.

End result: the customer in limbo.

Part 3: Incompetence Amplified - Enter the automated SAP support system

By this time, you have a frustrated customer just trying to get an update or refund. And they try to automate this out. With yet another shoddily implemented SAP support system.

Their automation-playbook seems to be: - Hide the direct customer support options as deeply as possible: - You need a special sort of persistence to even find the customer support phone number or email address on Decathlon's website. (it's +91-7676798989 btw; email: care.india@decathlon.com; the irony!)

I can only imagine that the "Call deflection" metric must be soaring high, bringing someone a fat bonus for implementing such an amazing SAP support system that utterly fails to address customers' needs.

But here's the thing, these support failures aren't just bad for frustrated customers like me; they're bad for the brand too. From proud advocates, the disappointed customers will at best be hesitant to be part of this support circus. At worst, detractors.

Automate what can be, but let the overall customer happiness be your guiding metric.