Topps recently confirmed to a few bloggers that called in that they were in the process of making staff changes in customer service. As a result, redemption replacement requests would be on hold until the change was implemented. This could be a while, and as a result, there are a lot of angry people. With the National Show coming up in August, this is about the worst possible time this could happen.
Bottom line, there needs to be a venue for customers to collect on the redemptions they are owed, even if replacements need to be made. That goes without saying. This is a disasterous PR situation for Topps, and I am really disappointed that this decision was made.
Instead of just complaining, here is what I would do to redemptions overall, but I realize money is always a factor. Hopefully a big investment is made.
1. Create a replacement system that is user friendly
Right now, no company has a replacement system that is easily maneuverable. My guess is that the companies want to make it as difficult as possible for people to exchange their redemptions, so this was never an investment they want to make. I think it could mean the difference between the hundreds of BBB complaints and the time needed to work through those, and having happy customers.
Here is what you do. Create a profile page where collectors input redemption codes. Start the countdown the day the code is entered. At a certain timeframe, the redemption replacement page becomes accessible. On that page, a collector gets a list of cards that are available on a tiered system. Therefore, the more valuable the redemption, the better the replacements are. They can choose which cards they want, and they receive documentation stating the replacement is their choice. Once a card is replaced, that’s it, the page is deactivated in their profile. Because all redemptions are done on codes, this should not be too big a stretch. Its going to take money to make it work, but its worth it.
A secondary effect of a system like this is the ability to add in a trade system. Collectors could trade up to better tiers, or they could trade with other people to get more redemptions they want.
2. Create a points system for people that redeem a lot of cards
The more cards you redeem, the longer you wait, the more points you get. Once points are accumulated, you can spend them on cool stuff. Hobby boxes, blue wave style giveaways, etc. It would make redemptions WORTH waiting for. There could also be a VIP service where the massive accounts could get special perks. Although this is already in place in some ways, it will get people chasing that status.
3. Activate a live chat feature with customer service
Instead of making people wait on the phone, have a live chat feature available where the lines dont need to be clogged. The companies can weed out potential scammers by seeing profiles attached to the chat, and the people with more redemptions in the system can even get VIP status. Reward people for their patience instead of punish.
Twitter and facebook are also good options, but more accessible customer service is always a good thing. People are expensive to staff the line, but none of this will ever get better without focus on getting butts in the seats to take on the work.
4. Install updates that give collectors statuses on their cards
Topps is having major issues because there are ZERO updates after the codes are entered. Upper Deck had this for a while, but it wasnt as detailed as it should have been. Panini is in the same boat, but they have a blog to showcase big signings. If you are going to tell someone to wait, at least give them updates – out for signing, in house and awaiting construction, awaiting shipping, etc. This isnt rocket science.
5. Dont promise what you cant deliver
We get that athletes are fickle, but if there is no contract for the signing in place, dont offer redemptions. I have heard that redemptions have been offered before without actually knowing if the guy will sign on the dotted line, and that is inexcusable. Its one thing if the subject agrees to sign eventually, and then doesnt. Its completely different if the subject hasnt even agreed to terms.
6. Offer extra box content for wax with redemptions
If a collector pulls a redemption, give them an extra hit in the box to make up for it. Its only fair.
Its obvious this is a long process, but there needs to be a fix and fast. I cant even stress how much customer service is important to a business. Recent studies have shown that 53% of customer loyalty is driven by the sales experience. Redemptions are not necessarily a bad thing if they are done right.