November 25, 2009

Customer service is a customer experience

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My story begins with the purchase of a fountain pen, and ends with a lesson in how a brand (especially a luxury brand) achieves brand alignment.

recife customer experienceWhat I mean is that customer service is part of your brand, because it's part of the customer experience. When you make a claim about your brand, you need to back it up, especially when the customer isn't happy.

Brand alignment occurs when your business strategy and positioning is aligned with your customer experience. In essence, it connects your brand with people's lives. It's not about your brand, it's about how your brand makes people feel about themselves.

When the nib fell out of an $85 dollar fountain pen shortly after purchase, and three trips back to the factory didn't fix it (thanks for the lifetime warranty!), a year later I requested to be unsubscribed from the promotional email list of the company. Besides the fact that the emails were image files and the text was in French, my request mentioned that I would never buy another pen because of my perception of their quality.

Surprisingly, I received a response. Recife, a French company that positions its leather goods and fountain pens as luxury brands, has an individual dedicated to After Care service. She stated to me in our correspondence:

“Luxury is a commitment.”

Can you say the same about your brand? Yours may not be a luxury brand, but what kind is it? Are you as committed to the customer experience after the transaction is complete?

“Luxury feel is also in the service luxury brands can offer to their customers.”

What is the feel of the service your customers experience? Do they feel better about themselves after they purchase your product or service?

Needless to say, after making things right with me, Recife now has a customer for life, and an advocate for the brand. Not because of the product I purchased, but because they cared about my experience with it after the purchase. That‘s brand commitment.  And in the end, a great customer experience.

PS: the resolution was to replace the nib in my pen that I had purchased, and send me a new pen – which is one of the most beautiful and elegant writing instruments I’ve ever used.

Now I’m a happy customer.

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