I read a Gartner Research article* recently that began, "Many marketing leaders today are responsible for customer experience and customer retention in addition to traditional marketing activities oriented to awareness, consideration, and acquisition. As a result, they're not only asking what makes customers buy products in the first place, but also why customers leave."
This quote has stuck with me since I recently had the third and final customer experience at a major home improvement retail chain (you would recognize the name instantly), and as a result, I have left this particular retailer for good. The sad thing is, no one at that retail chain - not senior leadership, not the marketing team, and not the customer service department - cares that it lost a repeat long-term customer. Here's what happened.
Last December, I purchased a new refrigerator/freezer, washing machine, and dryer. When these three items were delivered to my home, the freezer was missing two shelves, which, if the only problem, would have been a minor matter. I returned to the local store and requested two replacement shelves. A salesperson took two shelves from the floor model and gave them to me. Strike One.
The next day, I smelled something odd in my laundry room. Apparently, there was a gas leak as a result of the incorrect installation of the dryer, so I had to call Southern California Gas. The installer had not put a seal between the valve and the hose, so the So Cal Gas repairman had to visit my home and install one immediately. Strike Two.
This summer, I returned to the home improvement store to purchase a gazebo for my backyard. When the 750-pound box was delivered, the deliveryman used a forklift to attempt to put the large box in my garage, but he scraped my driveway with the forklift. Had he said there could have been damage to the driveway from the forklift, I would have instructed him to place the large box in front of my house, but I did not get the chance. Now, because I want to repair the driveway as soon as possible, I have to hire a contractor to visit my home and repair the driveway. Strike Three.
I looked up the email address for Customer Service on the retailer's website and sent a detailed email. Within a day, I received a response that said, "(Store name) will be happy to help you." The email continued by saying that I needed to speak to the store manager where I purchased the items. I was told that I could not speak to anyone in the corporate customer service department. Strike Four.
A week after my email, I spoke with the local store manager on the phone. He again stated that he wanted to make things right, but when I explained that I resolved both the missing shelves issue and the gas leak issue back in December, and the only remaining issue was the damaged driveway, he said that he would have to file a claim with the delivery company. He explained that the store hired a company to deliver items, so the store was not responsible for any issues resulting from the delivery company. Strike Five.
I said that I did not want to wait for a claim to be filed, an investigator to visit my house to personally assess the damage, and then wait for a decision if a repair would be approved. Guess what happened? The manager hung up the phone on me. Strike Six. If you're a baseball fan, you know that there are too many strikes in this story.
On their own, these instances were disappointing. But taken together, they represent a lack of understanding of customer service and even worse, a total disregard for customers. At any point during my interactions - email, phone, in-person visits - anyone who represented this retail store could have taken ownership for my series of bad experiences and attempted to make things right.
They could have offered:
*A $250 gift certificate
*A free BBQ since it's summertime
*A $250 gift certificate to be used in the garden center
I am reminded of Bill Gates' timeless quote about the value of unhappy customers, and even if nothing had been offered to me, I would have remained a customer if someone from the store had simply acknowledged my concerns and agreed that changes had to be made so that these actions were not repeated for other customers.
Since no one did anything, I have no choice. I'm no longer a customer of this home improvement store - but will now only go to the competitor (whose name you'd also immediately recognize). What would you have done if you had been in my shoes?
*Here's the article that inspired this post:
"Why Customers Leave - and What to Do" by Frances Russell of Gartner Research
Image Credit: Quote from Bill Gates.
Welcome to Debbie Laskey's commentary about BRANDING, MARKETING, LEADERSHIP, SOCIAL MEDIA, EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT, and CUSTOMER EXPERIENCES. Debbie has worked in high-tech, the Consumer Marketing Department at Disneyland Paris in France, nonprofits, and insurance. Expertise includes strategic planning, brand development, marketing plans and audits, competitive positioning, websites, corporate communications, public relations, employee engagement, customer experiences, and social media marketing.
Friday, July 12, 2019
Ignore Unhappy Customers at Your Own Peril
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