Earlier this month my daughter, Kennedy, brought her Bearpaw boot to me and pointed out that one of the buttons (“toggles”) used to secure the elastic laces had cracked. I took a couple of photos, located Bearpaw’s Twitter account, and posted the following tweet on April 5, 2017:
— Steve Curtin (@enthused) April 5, 2017
Three days later, on April 8, Bearpaw tweeted this:
— BEARPAW (@bearpawshoes) April 8, 2017
Although they found time to tweet a promotion in hopes of attracting new customers and sales, they had no time to respond to an existing customer who had already purchased their product.
Lessons from losses: Depending on the study and industry you’re in, acquiring a new customer is five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one. And research by Bain and Company shows increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%. In other words, taking good care of your current customers is very good for business.
After a week had passed without a reply, I sent the following note to Bearpaw on April 12, via the contact page at its website:
“I am appalled that Bearpaw has found time to tweet promotions, but has ignored a tweeted request for help with a cracked button (tweeted by @enthused on 4-5-17). This sort of blatant indifference toward customers is exactly why brands/companies never realize their full potential. (I’m certain that UGG would have put a replacement button in the mail by now…) Please check your Twitter feed, look at the tweet/photos, and expend the discretionary effort required to make my 12-yr-old daughter’s boots whole. Thank you. Steve Curtin (contact info.)”
Later that day, I received this robotic response from Bearpaw that lacked empathy and failed to recognize my disappointment:
You may order free replacement toggles on our website (www.bearpaw.com) search word “toggles”. The toggles can be easily sewn on with a heavy duty needle and thread or yarn.
If your toggles do not look like those pictured, please contact us at 855-273-4732
Bearpaw Customer Service
Now, had I received this reply in the days following my original tweet, I wouldn’t be writing this blog. But after my original tweet was ignored, I became annoyed that I had to then reach out to the company a second time in order to have my (simple and straight-forward) problem resolved.
Lessons from losses: Being responsive to customers by displaying a sense of urgency expresses genuine interest in them. Apathy conveys indifference and unconcern.
Under the circumstances, Bearpaw should have done more to address the note that I sent via their contact page. It was clear that I felt ignored and was disappointed by having to expend more time and effort to resolve my problem. This sentiment was not even addressed in their reply. In fact, they gave me another assignment to complete (access their website, locate the replacement toggle from a set of options, enter my shipping address), even though they already had all of this information.
Lessons from losses: There’s a time and a place for automated responses like the one I received. For instance, if an inquiry comes in via the contact page or other channel (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) then sending the automated response makes sense. But when a customer is clearly disappointed and expresses this feeling in his message, then the company’s reply must be personalized to address both the facts and feelings conveyed in the message.
Although I eventually got what I needed from the company, I am hardly an enthusiastic promoter of the brand and would not go out of my way to purchase its products in the future.
Lessons from losses: According to a study by J.D. Power and Associates, when customers experience a problem and it’s properly resolved, it leads to increases in customer satisfaction, spending, and loyalty. Clearly, problems are opportunities to seize rather than headaches to ignore.
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