Days went by as I wondered if the brand monitors its social media accounts with costly tools or free Google Alerts.
Two weeks passed, and I still had not received any response. When a manager of the local store called me, he left a voicemail. I returned the call five minutes later and was transferred three times because the manager could not be found, and I was finally placed on hold. After waiting about five minutes, I hung up.
The manager called me again the next day, and after trying to convince me that the delivery company THAT LOWE'S HIRED AND PAID to deliver my gazebo was at fault rather than Lowe's, I told him that I did not want to file a claim against the delivery company since I was Lowe's customer - not the delivery company's customer. He hung up on me.
Another week passed. I couldn't believe that senior leadership at Lowe's would teach this kind of customer service and endorse this type of customer experience. I was unable to locate an email address for Lowe's Chief Marketing Officer - you would think that someone in that role would want to maintain a pulse on customer comments. Heck, the CMO for IBM has an active Twitter account (@michelleapeluso), as does the CMO of General Electric (@LindaBoff), and the CMO of Cadillac (@DeborahWahl), to name just a few.
But I did learn that the CEO of Lowe's has a Twitter account, so I sent him a link to my blog post that detailed my three #servicefails. In less than 24 hours, I received two responses on Twitter, and later that day, I received a phone call from a different manager at the local store. This different manager again tried to place blame on the delivery company hired by Lowe's, but I quickly put an end to that discussion.
I explained, "Thank you for calling. Since I don't want to waste your time or mine, and I am tired of hearing that everything is the fault of the delivery company, and I do not want to file a claim against the delivery company, you need to make this right some other way. I suggest that you offer me a gift card for a future purchase."
After a few seconds of silence, the manager offered to deduct $250 from the price of my nearly $1,600 gazebo that started this chain of events. While the offer was not a free BBQ, at least, this way, I did not have to visit the store. But, will I be a repeat Lowe's customer again? Time will tell.
According to Stefan Thomke, the William Barclay Harding Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, "When it comes to providing the type of experience we gush about to friends, many companies are falling down on the job. A survey found that 65 percent of customers are likely to speak negatively about their experience, and 48 percent who had negative experiences shared them with 10 or more other people, according to a study in a 2010 Harvard Business Review article. Only 25 percent were likely to say positive things, and only 23 percent with positive experiences told 10 or more others."
“When a negative experience gets management’s attention, they immediately get nervous and move in and want to shut everything down by tightening controls, focusing on process, and taking autonomy away from their people,” Thomke said. “Because they’re worried about the negative experience, they make sure customers get what they expect. But when you get exactly what you expect at a restaurant, you won’t remember a week later that you were at that restaurant.”
Thomke further explained, "In contrast, exceptionally great experiences stand out, create memories for years, increase loyalty, and lead to a massive multiplier effect when one customer shares the details with others in today’s super-connected consumer world. We forget that the things that really stick, the things people talk about years later, are not the average experiences, but the outliers on the other end of the spectrum."
What if I had not Tweeted my blog post to Lowe's CEO? Would there have been any answer to my outreach? What can your brand learn from this series of experiences?
Image Credit: Twitter.
Articles referenced in this post:
Ignore Unhappy Customers at Your Own Peril
Lessons from the Classroom: How to Design a Better Customer Experience
Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers
The World’s Most Influential CMOs 2019