Customer service and brand – a match made in heaven

Customer Service and brand

This is a tale of two very different customer service experiences.

Our story starts with home furnishing retailer, Dunelm…

At the Radcliffe household, we’ve recently had a new kitchen fitted which now includes a rather snazzy breakfast bar (if I do say so myself). Excited to make use of this new feature, we purchased two wooden bar stools from Dunelm.

The stools were a lovely addition to the new kitchen – that is, until one fateful morning when my husband, Matt, went crashing to the floor. The stool seat had completely broken away from the base. After tending to Matt’s injuries, we examined the stool and it was clearly a manufacturing fault. We contacted Dunelm with photographs of the stool and Matt’s cuts and bruises and waited for a reply.

Two long weeks passed with no response. Eventually someone from Dunelm emailed back asking if we could provide photos of the stool and Matt’s injuries. We’d already sent them, but we diligently re-sent and waited. Then we waited, before waiting just a little bit more. Long story short – we were eventually passed from team to team over a period of weeks before eventually receiving a carefully worded letter saying that it’s possible we’d tightened the stool too much (we hadn’t) but that they’d send us a replacement stool and a gift voucher for the inconvenience. The stool took another week to arrive which made it around two months in total.

Our story then shifts to jack of all trades, Marks and Spencers…

In another kitchen related purchase, we bought three indoor plant pots on stands to spice up the décor. The order arrived promptly but one of the pots was smashed on arrival. We contacted M&S that day by Webchat and a new pot was issued immediately. We weren’t asked to supply any photographs, we weren’t subtly (or not so subtly) blamed for the breakage and the replacement pot came a few days later, just like magic.

Now to the moral of the story…

If we look back to the first ever blog post I wrote for this website, I shared a quote from author and entrepreneur, Jonah Sachs, who says: “Your brand is a story unfolding across all customer touch points.” Your customer service experience is such a critical customer touchpoint, yet when it comes to brand building, it is so often overlooked.

The experience you give your customers when interacting with your brand should be a reinforcement of your brand identity. M&S have built their brand on the principles of quality, service and trust – all of these were apparent in our experience of complaining to them. Dunelm’s brand is built on the principles of product choice and value. Their mission statement doesn’t really consider their customer at all and, again, this was very apparent in my experience with them.

So, have Dunelm got it wrong?

Technically, no. My customer service experience was in line with a company that puts product above people, so in that way they’ve stayed true to their brand – however, they are missing a huge trick by not placing the customer at the heart of what they do.

When done right, customer service is a sure-fire way to boost brand loyalty. My recent experiences mean that I’ll certainly be looking at the M&S website before Dunelm in the future and I’m not alone – research suggests that 76% of adults in Britain rate a positive customer experience as more important than the actual product they’re interested in purchasing. If that’s not a reason to think about your customer service, I don’t know what is.

*Sales pitch warning* – staying true to my brand 😉

If this is something you struggle with, the good news is – I can help. When clients approach me wanting to build their brand, we always start by looking at the full package. Starting with your customer and what you want your brand to say to them – we review everything to make sure you’re saying just that. This covers anything from your logo, your website, your customer service experience and more.

So…if you’re reading this and thinking your brand would benefit – let’s grab a brew (real or virtual).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *