Antonio King digs into the s’mores while telling of the time they oversold the shoes and the systems shut down one by one…
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Charlotte Ward 0:13
Hello, and welcome to Episode 138 of the customer support leaders podcast. I’m Charlotte Ward. This week we’re feeling a little spooky so stay tuned for five scary support stories. I’d like to welcome to the podcast today in this very spooky week Antonio King known as Tones to his friends so Tones Hello, where we are gathered around this beautiful campfire. So here we are among friends telling stories. But first, perhaps for our listeners, you’d like to introduce yourself.
Antonio King 0:54
Sure, well, first of all, thank you for adding to the campout I remembered to bring my fleece jacket sometimes I do that. I forget and it gets really cold and I get upset at myself afterwards. But thank you for inviting me. Yeah, so I’m tones as you said, I my real name is Antonio. And I’ve been in the support industry for well over 12 years, I think different facets, a lot of which has been ecommerce and currently I am a programme manager for partner hero, a BPO BPO outsourcing organisation for support. So
Charlotte Ward 1:33
awesome person. And thank you for taking time away to come and join us at this beautiful campout. And you remember the jacket and we’re, you know, toasty around the fire. It’s perfect time perfect week perfect atmosphere is it not for telling a few stories. And I think you have a story to tell in my life
Antonio King 1:54
and do and this one actually haunts me all the time. But I think about it. It comes up in reference quite often actually is how chaotic things can get in the support world. So it all started back in 2017 working for ironically a company that was the world’s biggest online retailer for Halloween costumes. So as you can imagine our peak season of traffic was quarter for twirled for reference, we would maybe do a million dollars in sales a month. And then inside the time frame of September October for Halloween, we would do about a million dollars a day to where to where that’s not even the scary part yet. But we’re already in here guys buckle in our busiest day, which we always will call orange Tuesday which is the Tuesday before Halloween. our busiest day, our busiest order count we saw 98,000 orders on that one day this is actually 2016 and I departed that company in 2016. So very common for e commerce brands especially in quarter four when everyone’s shipping e commerce wise to encounter challenges. With couriers, ups, USPS, FedEx, all the good ones, without fail had challenges every single year in the worst times of the year. But this year was was particularly special because we as an organisation, back then were just kind of branching into developing our own product. So manufacturing our own product, getting it licenced heavy licencing involved when it comes to e commerce, especially for Halloween costumes, so we were fortunate to secure a licence with the movie Back to the Future, which if you know the movie there’s a various I mean the entire wardrobe collection of that movie is iconic but one of the more well known pieces of items in that movie are these light up shoes that self lace themselves.
Charlotte Ward 4:11
Oh, I want one of those still have one of those passes.
Antonio King 4:16
So we figured out after getting a licence we were we manufactured our own shoe. brand that with a licence that lit up and fortunately, or maybe unfortunately didn’t lace themselves at that point in time. Maybe. Maybe shoes can now that’s 2020 which that might be terrible in itself. But we’ve discovered some shoe we’ve made these shoes licenced them but we only made a certain amount specifically and strategically we only decided to make 300 I think
Charlotte Ward 4:50
now I’m more nervous and I
Antonio King 4:51
think you know where this is going especially in talking about spooky season and good texture freeze and and nightmares. So You know, we we are engineering, everything we use engineering wise was built in house, we really fortunate to have like a 15 person engineering team. And especially when it comes to quarter four, we don’t really prefer to take chances in that time of year anyway, because that’s when you know, 70% of your sales are going on. So we need to make sure people can get in and get out and get things in time for Halloween.
Unknown Speaker 5:24
Antonio King 5:26
we had just launched a pre order feature, maybe about mid summer of that year prior to get into quarter four. So we tested a few things, just a few items that we sold for pre order pre order work fantastically. So we get to time to sell the shoes, the 300 that we made, and we decided to put 100 of them on pre order only. And there’s there’s good news and bad news in this story. When a lot of facets, the good news is word spreads so fast. from different media outlets to news stations, local and national news stations and networks picked up on the fact that we created this Back to the Future shoe that was so highly sought after that we could see the amount of traffic the product page was generating on its own. Well, before we got to lunchtime, we said okay, this is great, like this is gonna be awesome. Going to sell all of these, it’s going to be great learning factor. And just to give you a little background of them in terms of the support structure, we were very heavy in three channels, phone primarily, chat, ping, secondary and email things. Third, as you get closer to Halloween time, the phone blows up the most. So back in real time to story.
Unknown Speaker 6:56
There were over
Antonio King 7:00
60,000 people sitting on the product page, waiting for lunchtime at 5:30pm. A week before orange Tuesday. So this had to be like October 25 timeframe, maybe October 22. So we could see 50,000 people sitting on the product page just waiting for 5:30pm to head isn’t 5:30pm hits technology and engineering team built with automatically enable purchases. And remember already 100 of that a third of that inventory was already allocated to those who purchased 5:30pm head.
Unknown Speaker 7:41
And you would think
Antonio King 7:44
you would think everything in the world just shut down. Because our phone lines went dead because of the surge of traffic. We’re trying to call it an order our networking system in the building, which this is a company of 160 people back then and our HQ went dead. Our inventory system
Unknown Speaker 8:09
Antonio King 8:11
The worst news about this piece though, is people were able so we sold out of those 300 in a minute and 15 seconds. Those remaining 200 left Oh my gosh. But what did not work was the fact that everyone being 50,000 people were able to purchase inventory even though we were already sold out of it. Yeah. And it took a while for us to get back online to solve the problem. And when we got back online, which is fortunately within like 20 minutes to half an hour. There were 700 orders in the queue for the shoes that we did not have inventory to fill. So think about it from the perspective of like we had 1000 orders 300 of those are already allocated. And then 700 more came through when we were already sold out within a minute and 15 seconds. Wow. Boy
Charlotte Ward 9:26
I can see the sweats in the in the glow of the camp fire times. You’re reliving it, aren’t you I’m living it with you at this point.
Antonio King 9:34
It’s the horror on my face. on all of our faces as we watched the queue number jump to 60 people waiting at people waiting on the phone 91 5300 calls waiting to be answered. To get shoes they were not only already sold out of but we had oversold
Charlotte Ward 10:00
seven x. Wow. And how many people were in your team?
Antonio King 10:06
We had at that moment, only 25 people active.
Charlotte Ward 10:14
Antonio King 10:17
So that quickly turned into an all hands on situation where even the SEO people from marketing from product and engineering just came over. And and the even the part that was even more horrifying was that now we had to call all those people who somehow are able to buy the shoes and tell them they’re not going to get these shoes because we don’t have the money to sell. And the amount of people who absolutely lost it on us was incredible. There was one specific guy who was buying shoes on behalf of his boss, where he just broke down crying and simultaneously calling us all sorts of names. Because he’s like, What am I supposed to do now? How am I supposed to go back to my boss with this? And we had just pods of team that we teams that we put together to handle the aftermath. So that’s, that’s the moment that I always look back and think I can remember specifically because of how traumatising that was. Yeah. And I don’t wish that on anybody. I don’t wish on anybody, but I look back and I go, can I say I’ve learned some things? Absolutely. But was it worth it? to go through that situation? Now I don’t know if I wish that on anyone.
Charlotte Ward 12:00
I think it’s safe to say you’ve given me nightmares. And probably to everyone listening to this story. All I can do tones is say thank you very much. And wish all of our listeners a good night’s sleep because I’m not sure they’re gonna get it after, after the hat. Or
Antonio King 12:25
All I can do is cross my fingers and hope that you can get to sleep soundly after that and that none of you have to go through any resemblance of an experience like that.
Charlotte Ward 12:35
Thank you so much. Should we have another marshmallow?
Antonio King 12:39
Oh, oh, yes, it is small. I love these.
Charlotte Ward 12:45
Matt Matt put me on to them the other day.
Antonio King 12:47
Oh, Matt was here. Of course I should have known. I should have known that was here. I see his crocs over there in the corner.
Charlotte Ward 13:02
That’s it for today. Go to customersupportleaders.com/138 for the show notes and I’ll see you next time.
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