Since returning from the UK, I've been massively underwhelmed with the way Australian business has embraced the Internet. While most companies now have web sites, they're invariable brochureware of the 1998 variety. Things really haven't moved on yet, even in industries that aren't that complex.
I tried multiple times to move my gas an electricity services to new suppliers online, to either reach an email form or to submit my request only for... absolutely nothing to happen.
The big retailers tend to have little more than (clunky) store finder and links to PDFs of their latest catalogues, and nothing like a comprehensive listing of their products.
It's really quite disappointing that things have stagnated so much. So it was refreshing when recently I experienced amazing online customer service from a very unlikely service.
As we're buying a house, I ordered a catalogue of fruit trees from Daleys based up in Kyogle near the Queensland border. The extensive catalogue arrived, with the latest availability listing and prices, a couple of days later. So far so impressive.
A week or so later, I get an email from them checking it arrived and asking if I have any questions. So I ask a few questions about suitability for the Sydney climate and planting times, and get a response shortly afterwards. The exchanges were all tracked in a ticketing system (I'm guessing something like RT from the format) so the conversation will be archived, they can have escalation procedures to enforce service levels. Amazing!
This from a tiny tree nursery business run from the hippy-heavy Northern NSW hinterlands. They've got all the ingredients for brilliant customer service: good infrastructure, a simple business model, enthusiastic staff and a basic CRM system. Hippies. Northern NSW. Tree farmers.
So what the hell is wrong with Australia's big companies?