What Have You Got To Lose? Parable of the Business Cards


This is a personal story, and I’ll even illustrate with visual aids. This story has been persuasive to a few business folk who didn’t really see why they might use, for example, Twitter.

The story started as I was franticly preparing for a business trip a week before I needed to fly out, and the business cards I’d ordered through my institution still hadn’t arrived. I was an invited speaker, and had to have business cards. If I was putting my own money into it, I really wanted the minicards from Moo, but at that time Moo was UK-based and I didn’t think I could get them shipped in time. Next best choice for mini-cards and US-based was Zazzle. So here I am, in the wee hours of a Saturday morning (and I mean before 7AM) trying to place an order via the Zazzle website.

Tech - Zazzle vs Vistaprint Twitter Support Example 1
Me: “Zazzle says, There is a slight problem with your credit card. >> Please try again.” For both credit cards. Checked account. Have money. What gives?”

I wasn’t happy. I tried every online option for assistance I could find, then reluctantly phoned customer support, where I was on hold for something like twenty or thirty minutes. When I finally got customer service, we chatted for a long time, but I won’t inflict the conversation on you. Suffice it to say that the young woman was both incapable and unwilling to provide assistance. I asked to speak with a manager and was told there weren’t any. I suggested a manager might come in later that day and would she please pass along a message. She agreed to do so, but it was clearly under duress. I asked when a manager would be likely to come in and she said usually in two hours. By this point, that would have been around 10am my time, and I had been working on this for a good while.

After I waited an hour, then another hour, and longer. I was worried, frustrated and a tad desperate. I sent a cry for help out to Twitter.

Tech - Zazzle vs Vistaprint
Me: “Tell me, folks, I need business cards ASAP, as in within 6 days. What are my options? Can Moo ship overseas that fast?”

I received a quick hopeful reply.

Tech - Zazzle vs Vistaprint Twitter Support Example 2
JennyBento: “I’ve always loved my Vistaprint cards, so we’ll see how these turn out.”

As I was hesitating, trying to decide whether or not to try Jenny’s recommendation, I received this.

Tech - Zazzle vs Vistaprint Twitter Support Example 3

Wow! Vistaprint was on Twitter! Was Zazzle? Nope, couldn’t find them. Bummer. [NOTE: It turned out Zazzle was in Twitter, but I didn't see them in search that day, and they never replied to my tweets about their company. Twitter search for people is notoriously flakey.] OK, I went to check out Vistaprint. While I whipped through placing the order at Vistaprint, I made a suggestion, was immediately told it would be passed along. Then I had problems at the completion of the Vistaprint order, similar to what had happened with the Zazzle order, but without all the error messages.

Tech - Zazzle vs Vistaprint Twitter Support Example 7
Me: “Well, I made it all the way through clicking finish purchase, but it never went through. Do your folks send a confirming email?”

A few minutes later, I had a reply from Vistaprint on Twitter that the order was fine.

Tech - Zazzle vs Vistaprint Twitter Support Example 8
Vistaprint: “I see that the order is now in the processing stage.”

I thanked them effusively.

Tech - Zazzle vs Vistaprint Twitter Support Example 10
Me: “I love you guys! The customer service experience you have provided is exceptional. I deeply appreciate it.”

What about Zazzle? Well, I never got a phone call or email message from them, and at this point I didn’t care if I heard from them. Was that the end of the story? Unfortunately not. The next morning I woke up to find an email from Zazzle saying that the order had been processed and shipped. Excuse me? What? So now I had TWO sets of business cards coming via express shipping. Pricey, pricey, and much more than I had anticipated spending.

I will say the products from both were excellent, and I really enjoyed the minicards I got from Zazzle. Their shipping was really prompt, fast, and they arrived quickly, a day ahead of the Vistaprint order. The quality was exceptional. Zazzle carried the product I really wanted to order, while Vistaprint did not carry minicards. I get a lot of compliments on both business cards, and the Vistaprint customer service was mind-blowing. In the end I thought I would use both again.

Tech - Zazzle vs Vistaprint Twitter Support Example 15
Me: “End score: Customer service: Vistaprint +10, Zazzle 0; Satisfaction w/ experience: Vistaprint +8, Zazzle +3. Will probably use both again.”

Months later, I received an email from Zazzle asking why I had not returned as a customer, and would I fill out a survey. I filled the survey in, you betcha. They offered me a coupon for a small discount on my next order. Somehow I never got around to it.

I suspect that the Zazzle experience was a fluke – that I simply got unlucky with a less than sterling employee encounter. I bet she never gave the message to her manager, or that the manager fixed the problem online and didn’t think to tell me they’d fixed it. These are things they can and probably have fixed since then. The moral of the story is how Vistaprint gained a customer who will happily sing their praises through effective use of Twitter. I tend to tell people abbreviated versions of this story every time I hand out my business cards. If someone says, “Wow, those are cool cards,” I proudly say, “I got them from Vistaprint! You should try them!”

Oh, what did the cards look like? Alright, alright, here they are.

Business Cards, Vistaprint Business Cards, Zazzle

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5 responses to “What Have You Got To Lose? Parable of the Business Cards

  1. The real question is why did the institutional cards take too long? Were they there when you needed them upon hire? Why not?

    Your story is a great example of Twitter opening up communication, but it would be great to get your institution to solve the root cause of the problem. Now you are at a conference with a great card, a gmail address, no Block M and are supposed to represent Michigan? Michigan has dropped the ball for you and now you are stuck representing just yourself – very well, I’ll add, but something larger has been lost because the next person won’t be as resourceful as you and will be at a conference saying “Um, I don’t have any cards yet.”

    Great story!!

    • Actually, I still don’t have institutional business cards, and need to follow up on that. I have not had business cards for my new position, and have been in it for about a year and a half now. But I do like the cards I bought myself, which has not inspired me to press the issue. I believe that the ones I bought are enormously cheaper than the ones available through the campus. I wish UMich provided a way to partner with some of these more flexible and less expensive sources (like Vistaprint, Zazzle and Moo), but that is just me. I wish I could get UM-branded minicards. :) I love minicards.

    • Oh, and I wish UMich would adopt enterprise Google apps and GMail. :)

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