Best (and Worst) Practices for Optimizing Customer Brand Experiences
You’ve heard the expression, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade … and add vodka!” Well, I'm a firm believer in this principle as a proactive branding philosophy, especially when it comes to product mishaps. Mistakes can and do happen all along the way in creating memorable customer experiences.
For example, take what happened to shoe retailer DSW earlier this year: After the company experienced a significant computer crash, it sent an apology email to its entire customer file, which included a special promotion (check out the image to the right for a copy of the email).
By being honest and real with its customers, DSW redeemed both a negative customer experience and halted a potential public relations debacle with a simple, timely email message. The team at DSW knew how disappointing this glitch was to its fashion-savvy brand enthusiasts, so it tried to redeem itself by offering its customers a $10 off coupon as a gesture towards long-term brand goodwill.
This short and sweet message, signed personally by DSW's customer experience manager (and shoe lover), also didn't miss a chance to optimize a gratitude moment as well. “We are the lucky ones … because we have you for a customer” was the added vodka to this lemonade.
This DSW story is an example of a service problem, but retailers can learn from this when they encounter merchandise issues as well. Recently, botanically-based skin care provider Aveda let me and many other customers down when it ran out of a core product — a tinted moisturizer with sunscreen — used daily by their brand fans. This product was unavailable for months without warning; Aveda offered no substitution, no advice, no way to soothe their passionate customers who use this “must-have” product. “Corporate is reformulating it” is all customers were told. This brand experience was certainly all lemons, no lemonade.
Delayed vendor shipments, inferior quality, color degradation, customer confusion … merchants deal with these issues every day. How well though do you turn these lemonade experiences around? Granted, the root of the problem must be addressed to prevent any long-term brand damage, but small actions like those taken by DSW (e.g., notes or emails from the head merchants, and/or coupons for corrections) go a long way to paving the road for customer forgiveness when a brand’s products let them down.
Does your merchandising team have a plan in place not only to deal with these types of situations, but to do so in a way that optimizes your customers’ brand experience?