gift for my mom

Breaking My Yoga Chill: Three Customer Service Lessons Learned

Even big companies with a strong brand can deliver a less than ideal customer service experience.

All I wanted to do was buy my mom a present. That’s all. And to make it easy, I even knew what she wanted: a Yoga Bolster (had no idea what that was, so yes, I Googled).
Now, me being me, I waited until the last possible day to get myself to a shopping mall and hunt down this gift. The strategy: hit up a well known yoga company. Their brand to me has always been “all things yoga” so why would I need to go any where else? I got in the car and drove to a new mega mall that would absolutely have what I needed. Unfortunately, it was not the “one-stop shop” I was hoping for…

My customer experience took some interesting turns from there, including some lessons learned that I wanted to share.

Experience #1: MIXED SIGNALS

I approached a very busy store in the mall, where an employee at the front was both greeter and traffic controller. To save some time, I asked her if they had any yoga bolsters. She told me they were out of stock. Poop, but OK.

Later in the day, I called another branch only to learn they not only aren’t in stock, the company actually doesn’t carry them at all. And that I should go talk to any yoga studio to find out where I can get them.

Suggestion: two different stores with two VERY different responses. Make sure your team members are all on the same page around what you sell. And to the lady in the first store, if you are new and don’t know, please go ask. I’ll wait.
Opportunity: bolsters have to be something this store gets asked about from time to time. Is sending me to someone else for this information/product the best way to serve me? Either expand your product list or partner with another company that supplies them. Or, even know where I can go locally.

Experience #2: Social Issues

After further checking around, I found myself empty handed and a little frustrated. So I tweeted. My version of screaming into a pillow – except not muffled and very public. The situation: I couldn’t find what I wanted at another mall, Lululemon didn’t have what I wanted as the “yoga go-to”, and my internet service I was trying to tweet on was “spotty” at best.

The yoga company contacted me. (FYI – kudos to them as neither of the other two companies I mentioned, did)

So I shared my frustration.

Suggestion: Why do I have to take another step for my feedback? In my mind as a customer, I’ve shared all I need to in 140 characters, don’t make me take up more of MY time to now go to another website to catalogue the information I just provided you. Put the customer first.
Opportunity: If you’re going to truly use social media as a customer service channel (and you should, your customers do), have a mechanism in place that collects feedback and distributes it accordingly. A customer relationship management tool (CRM) would be helpful.

Experience #3: Know What You’re Communicating

The social media exchange continued. I had now ordered the product through Amazon (side note: it arrived 3 days sooner than they promised. Yay.) and felt I had shared what I needed to. Unfortunately, the yoga company suggested two things that further hurt my customer experience – a non-comparable product and a badly named business unit.

Suggestion: Don’t recommend substitute products that don’t provide the same usage, it hurts your brand as “experts”. I’m a yoga idiot, and if I hadn’t Googled, I would have bought an inappropriate gift for my mom on your suggestion.
Opportunity: Send me to a competitor. At the end of the day, it’s about serving the customer to make sure they get what they want. If you’re not able to provide it, you can still make them happy and that’s what they’ll remember.

In conclusion, they finished our chat by offering to connect me with another in-house service group, their “Resolutions” team.

 Suggestion: Listen to your customer and gauge the situation. In my mind, the situation is resolved. I’ve got what I wanted from another company and shared my feedback with yours. Sending me to something called the “Resolutions” team just feels like a waste of my time.
Opportunity: Tell me how you’re going to ensure something like this never happens again. This is an opportunity to prove you’ve heard from your customer, acknowledge and take ownership of the mistake (which Lululemon didn’t really do. “Sorry to hear you were misinformed” doesn’t really do it), and fix it for future. It’ll turn the situation around and start a relationship with your customer.
 Experience – 3 Lessons to Learn 
  1. Make sure your customer experience is consistent. All your staff should have access to, and knowledge of, the same information.
  2. Don’t make customers jump through hoops. If your organization is truly customer-centric, you are using the platforms your customers use as a direct feedback opportunity.
  3. Understand how your words can be perceived by your customer. Suggesting one product for another unrelated product or naming a team something it won’t actually do, puts into question whether the brand knows much about what they sell or how to serve its customers.
Thanks to this yoga supply company for providing such a case study (not sarcastic). It’s a good reminder that the customer experience is always something that needs to be nurtured and examined.
Let’s leave on a positive note, please share your best yoga customer service experience you’ve ever had in the comments below.

One Comment

  • Hi Rick,
    Thanks for the kudos, comment and story. Really appreciated. It just felt like one stumble after another. Not maliciously but just in the customer’s best interest.
    P.S. “Yikes” did drive me a little crazy.

    Your story was fantastic. One of the biggest things I push with clients/audiences is COMMUNICATE. You can’t do it enough and can’t assume you have. If anything changes, think about who could possibly be affected, even the slightest amount, and share with them what’s going on and give the customer the option of changing their relationship with the business. They took that away from you. But I love how they asked you what they could do to make it write and kept to that promise. So much goodness in that.

    Thanks again and nice to meet you sir.

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