Why Customer Service and Customer Experience is Part of Your Brand

At The Marketing Gap, our focus is on business to business marketing but we thought we would share a business to customer experience we recently went through as there are things that every SME can learn from it.

A phrase we use a lot at The Marketing Gap is marketing is so much more than colours and fonts. With that said your brand is so much more than your logo!
Your brand is the set of emotions that customers and potential customers associate with your business, the products or services you sell. How your brand is perceived by people will be a result of their experience with your product(s) or services.

We have been searching for the Unicorn of Mugs, a plain white, fine bone china, 550ml mug. Stop being so fussy, we hear you scream. It all seems slightly ridiculous but keep with us and you will understand.

Our MD’s other half is a bit of a tea monster.  Not only that, he says the tea tastes so much better from a china cup, something we have heard before, so not that unusual.  Now the MD’s other half 6 feet 4 inches, meaning the average cup looks like a thimble in his hands.

Does anyone remember the famous Sports Illustrated picture of André the Giant clutching a beer can?

Now you can see why a normal size cup just won’t do.

The search was on and Google was tasked with locating vendors who sell a plain white, fine bone china, 550ml mug.

Our MD is a bit of a coffee monster, so rather than just get one, she wanted 6 so the search went from looking for a Unicorn to finding hen’s teeth.

Several refinements of search string later, the search hits begin to get a little more promising. Brand names we all know start appearing. Maybe it is not a unicorn after all.  After clicking through to these online stores and avidly looking through their sites, despite all the promises that the Google search results provided, it became clear, it wasn’t going to be easy.

The typical problem across all of the websites visited, where white doesn’t mean plain white, you can’t always filter listings by materials and filtering by volume is very rarely available.  Obviously, you can't have filters for everything. But one thing that became frustratingly obvious was product descriptions were another click away or not provided or inconsistent across the website.

Take Home: Don't make it difficult to find information about your product or service.  Make sure your website is set up in a way that search engines can easily crawl it and pick up the relevant information.  Be consistent with descriptions/information across all your pages on your website.  Make sure your website is easy to use and navigate.  Remember your website is your virtual shop window and you want to make it as easy as possible to use and navigate.

Numerous clicks later and a lot of grump, the unicorn was found, a set of 6 plain white, fine bone china, 550ml mugs.  The product description was there and is not another click away.  Hallelujah!

Away we go, adding them to our basket and proceeding to checkout.  All is looking good. Keep in mind that it is the 25th September; the website states shipping speed “Get it by Thu 11 October Small Parcel Courier”.  Shipping cost is £4.99.  There is no indication of the item being out of stock.  So why is it taking 17 days to ship?!? Are they making them to order?

We don't care we are buying the mugs, after all, they are the hen's teeth of unicorns!

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And so the saga continues.  Something all businesses should be familiar with is GDPR and consent!  If you are not, please immediately take yourself outside and give yourself a darn good flogging!

This is what is written on this company’s website with regard to their privacy policy.

“MARKETING AND BEHAVIORAL ADVERTISING

If you provided your consent, we will send you marketing communications and materials by email and postal mail to keep you informed of new products, promotions, and other information we think may be of interest to you. Please note that it may take up to 48 hours to process your request and update our systems.”

Basically, tick the box if you want to hear about it.  Well, we didn't tick the box but we did get the emails! And they kept on coming. We got one on the 26th Sept and we unsubscribed, we got one on the 27th September and we unsubscribed, we got one on the 28th September AND we got one on the 29th September and we unsubscribed.

As marketers, we have major hair pulling screaming hissy fits about this whole scenario.  1) We didn't consent to receive marketing communications in the first place and 2) an unsubscribe should be an unsubscribe and it should be instantaneous and not 48 hours later. There is absolutely no excuse for this sort of dreadful marketing practice. Even the most basic and free to use email marketing tools have instant unsubscribe mechanisms!

Take Home: Check to make sure your website is not falling foul of the new GDPR rules.  Even if it looks right on the site, make sure the mechanisms that sit behind it are tried and tested, so they do what they should do.  Ensure your unsubscribe mechanism is robust and automated with suppression lists.  Your customers or prospects will be turned off by your spamming antics especially if they didn’t ask to receive it.  Implement alternative remarketing technics.

The one email we had been waiting for and one they are legitimately allowed to send arrived. Our order had been dispatched.  Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy, our package was going to arrive early!

Our elation was soon dissolved and we became the disgruntled customer once we clicked on Track Package.

Remember, we ordered our package on the 25th September, we weren’t told the items were out of stock, they were being delivered by a small parcel courier and would take 17 days to ship.

The web browser opened and we were met with a slap in the chops. 25th September your parcel has been collected. 26th September we’re sorry but the delivery of your consignment has been delayed.

What? Why?  Where is the customer service in THAT! Had they not paid their last delivery bill?  So the goods were sat on the shelf in some warehouse for 12 days for no reason. No explanation, absolutely nothing.  All we know is they weren’t out of stock and they weren’t being made to order, that’s for sure.

That spoke volumes of “meh” or for those not up with millennial speak, apathy. Customer disservice is our book.

Take Home: A lot of business these days is won off the back of customer service excellence. If your delivery and customer service is shocking, your ability to retain customers will be significantly reduced.  Social media & review sites mean people can tell so many more people about bad experiences, which will hamper your ability to win new customers.  It doesn't matter if your product is great if your customer service is shocking. It's so much harder to turn a negative emotion back to a positive one.

 The package arrived. After some time of getting into the box of goodies, we must say they were very well packed to avoid breakage during transit, we discovered they weren't the unicorn we were after.  As it turns out they were your bog standard size cup.  Oh for the love of chocolate, we had been so diligent in our search and reading product descriptions, what on earth happened there?

Frustration level rising, we hurriedly check our order confirmation email, no product description included; we check our order online, no product information included. We have no way of knowing. So now we need to return the darn things, we don’t need a cupboard full of thimbles. We already have a number for the average sized guest.

The returns procedure was reasonably slick. We registered that we wanted to return the products and a customer service agent got back to us within a few hours.  However, the contents of the email were hard to understand.  Being unfamiliar with their chosen courier service, CollectPlus, the instructions we received were unclear.  You see rather than writing the name in full, CollectPlus, they wrote Collect +, not even Collect+, which would make more sense. The email read “drop off at a Collect + location” and no link to where to find a CollectPlus location.  So another set of emails it was to clarify what it is they actually meant.

Take Home: Don’t assume. Something might be clear as day to you but to others who might be unfamiliar with your product or service, or in this case courier service, it may not. Make sure you reference product and services correctly when communicating, be it on a website or via other mediums.

Suffice to say, the goods have now been returned and the hunt for the unicorn of cups has been paused for now. Would we buy goods from this company again? Probably not or not anytime soon, just because we don’t want to have to wait that long for our items to arrive.

We are not going to name the company but if you do want to know, get in touch and we will spill the beans.

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