D'Oh - Old Navy Experience Hiccup

We've talked a lot about the fundamentals of customer experience on this site. We've also talked about how operational issues cause customer experience compromise. Unfortunately, as most of us know, it's easy to miss the boat on these fronts.

While I'm sure there's more to the story, I thought I'd share this potentially great example of these dynamics at play. I got this rather compelling email from Old Navy today:

About 10 minutes later, I decided to surf to Old Navy and save. I opened up the email and clicked - and got a 404 error. I then clicked five places of the email and got a "Server not responding" error. I checked my internet connection and clicked once more, where I got this page:

The message reads "We're updating our site to bring you a better shopping experience. Old Navy is temporarily closed for scheduled site maintenance..."

Planned site maintenance? In tandem with the release a large push email?

I'm sure there's more to the story than this, but it sounds like one of two things happened: Either 1) The development and marketing departmental silos aren't communicating well together in an effort to coordinate outbound marketing with planned site maintenance... or 2) perhaps Old Navy's site went down due to an overwhelming response to the email.

In the latter case, it appears Old Navy only has one error screen to use when the site goes down. It basically says "We're closed, and we planned this." That's a pretty rude message for a customer who was JUST invited shopping! If the site did go down (and hey - it happens) wouldn't it be better for Old Navy to have an alternative error message for non-planned outages that says something this:

"We're sorry - the site is temporarily unavailable. To compensate for your inconvenience, we'll give you an additional 10% off your next order. Just use this code when you check out: 123ERROR. Print this now and check back with us later to save even more! Thanks and apologies from your friends at Old Navy."

Better to recover those shoppers at a cost than have them forget to come back, right? Not so hard to do, either.

Based on my estimation, the site was down for about 2 hours ... It's back up now. I can't help but wonder how much this little snaffu cost Old Navy today?

Getting the fundamentals of experience right can't be overstated. It requires cross-departmental communication, coordination and scenario planning. When this doesn't happen, it wastes corporate energy, burns revenue and has the potential to seriously damage customer relationships. Of course, I'll go back to Old Navy... this is just a good "food for thought" example.


Deborah Gray said...

They must not have learned anything, because it just happened again. Two hours after I received a sale email, I get "Old Navy is temporarily closed for scheduled site improvements."


Anonymous said...

It's been down for at least two weeks! I got a big mailing promo from them then about sweaters - and no site. I live an hour from the nearest store, so I always order online. This blows.

Nichole said...

It's 7:45pm here and I can't get onto the site because of maintenance. So annoying!!!

Anonymous said...

It's still not up and running, I've been trying to get on since last night. Same with the gap.

Dionysia said...

i just got an email for an additional 50% of clearance and right in the middle of loading crap into my "cart" the site shut down...

Anonymous said...

If this is a scheduled or planned sort of thing, why wouldn't they plan this sort of thing for overnight hours when most of America sleeps? I've been trying to check out their fleece lounge pants since yesterday afternoon! SO ANNOYING!

Anonymous said...

I've been trying to get some shopping done on the site for about a week and keep getting the error message. Ironically my cart is full and I just need to check out at this point. It will let me in sometimes and then "BOOM" error message. I get the one that just says the site is unavailable, nothing about "scheduled" outage. Hope it's up and running soon otherwise I'll just go shop somewhere else. Great idea on offering the coupon code to customers. Something like that would for sure bring a lot of people back to finish their shopping, myself included.

Post a Comment




TwitterLinkedInYouTubePosterousFacebook G+

Live Path Experience Architect Feed


I’m Leigh Durst, a 20 year veteran in business, operations, customer strategy, ecommerce, digital & social media and marketing. Simply put, I’m a strategist that helps companies (start-up to blue chip) achieve business shift, create more compelling online and offline experiences. I also write, speak and teach about experience design and next-generation business. I’m a futurist, visionary, strategist, doer and connector with a passion for people and helping others. When I’m not on the road, you’ll find me in the San Francisco bay area, working, beaching it and hanging out with my family and dog.


The Customer Experience Edge


Age of Conversation 3 - Get yours now in hardcover, paperback and for the Kindle.


Web Redesign: Workflow that Works