Enterprise Software Doesn't Work for Me After All

Posted by: Sarah Lacy on December 23, 2005

Back on Dec. 5 I blogged about my sheer delight at Ann Taylor’s supply chain and order management software. Not exactly cocktail party conversation I know, but it had long been a pet peeve of mine to hear all these software companies boast about how their software makes life so much better for customers. Meanwhile I rarely experience any good, helpful service from a call center.

Almost 20 days later, the brown silk camisole the Ann Taylor crew had tracked down for me somewhere in middle America still hadn’t arrived, and I started to get a little worried.

So I called this morning. As it turned out, the camisole in question was never found. They warned me the system was only 95% accurate. I guess someone could be trying it on just as they were selling it to me. What are they going to do? Snatch it out of that person’s hands?

Oh well.

Still, I have to give Ann Taylor some props here. I was able to hit zero and get an operator at any time and only waited about two minutes for one to pick up. And most important, I wasn't forced to use voice recognition software. Sorry TellMe, but I loathe voice recognition software. Does anyone else feel like a total loser sitting at your desk saying things like "main menu" or "check my reservation?"

Back to Ann. My order was easily found despite my having lost the order number and the original sales girl spelling my name "sahar." My only gripe would be that they took down my email address at the time of order, but didn't send me a note to let me know the item turned out to be out of stock. I brought this up with the incredibly friendly operator and she said, "Yeah, I've heard this before from people. You're right. We should email. I'm going to make that suggestion." I don’t even care if she was lying, it sounded genuine and still made me feel better.

She also commiserated with me, listening again, to the story of how I stupidly ruined the first shirt and sharing a similar story about burning her prom dress just before the big day. Wow. That's way worse. I hung up actually feeling more sorry for her.

The upshot? Yes, Ann Taylor let me down. Maybe their software system isn't as great as I thought. I wanted to be mad about it, but they managed to still leave me pretty happy. I maintain that something's going awfully right over there. Software nerd that I am, I put in a call to find out what vendor they use. Whoever it is, I hope they branch out into call centers for airlines and utilities.

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Reader Comments

Nate

December 24, 2005 07:59 PM

I wonder if the enterprise software in question is actually 100% (or maybe 99.999%) accurate and the real problem stems from either 1) the business processes in place around the software are flawed, 2) the software in question is not the correct solution for the domain of business problems that are to be solved, or 3) a combination of the previous two possibilities.

Who knows; considering your luck with enterprise systems, the missing camisole could end up getting charged to your credit card even though you never received the product :-)

Debi

December 28, 2005 07:58 AM

I used to work retail and the 95% accuracy problem probably stems from the difficulty (or impossibility) of keeping accurate inventory counts, whether it was due to an inaccurate count to begin with, stolen merchandise, misplaced merchandise, or the wrong quantity shipped to the store that wasn't corrected when the order was accepted. Many times store inventory will show items that don't actually exist or will show a zero count for something right in front of you.

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