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Does Your Brand Change Once the Customer Says Yes?

Portrait of an articulated skeleton on a bentw...Image by Powerhouse Museum Collection via Flickr

The other day Drew McLellan sent out a newsletter about "Is Your Customer Experience On Purpose".  A recent purchase of mine got me thinking about this in context to the sale process.  I was buying a mattress for my bed at the local Slumberland Furniture Store.  My wife and I had picked out the mattress, bought the mattress cover and were ready to leave.  There was just the matter of paying for the mattress and arranging for delivery. 

The sales person let us know they could deliver the mattress on Monday.  That is when Slumberland's brand changed.  My wife mentioned that afternoon would be better for us.  That was the moment.  Right then.  When the sales person said something to the effect of "we are not allowed to make requests for delivery times".

Let's be honest.  How many of you have a day to just hang out and wait for the delivery person?  Especially when you PAID for the delivery.   We went home scratching our heads over this lack of customer service. 

Slumberland, in one moment went from "customer oriented, desiring to help find the best way to sleep" to dictatorial.  Even worse is the written information they included with our "receipt folder".  Stapled inside is a sheet of paper titled "Customer Expectations for Home Delivery".  Here are paragraphs two and three for your review.  When reading these, think about the brand experience:

Q: How is my two-hour time calculated?
A: The two-hour time frame is based up on our truck's route.  Your two-hour time frame will be assigned to you.  Slumberland will call you two days before the scheduled delivery date and give you a two hour time frame, (i.e. 1-3 pm).  This means the delivery could occur anytime during the scheduled two hours.

Q: If my two-hour time frame does not work for me, what other options do I have?
A: Once the truck is routed, we are unable to change time frames.  You have a few options: (1) Leave a key in a safe place for our delivery drivers.  (2) Is it possible to have a neighbor, apartment manager or family member help?  (3) Also, our delivery drivers can call you when they are on their way to give you time to meet them.  (4) If these options do not work, we can help you reschedule your deliver to the next available day.

I especially like (4) above.  In essence, if this delivery system will not work, we will put you through it one more time. 

Personally, I am guessing that Slumberland outsourced their delivery and then squeezed the margins on the delivery company.  The delivery company found the most efficient method of delivering furniture and implemented it.

No matter why this is the case, the entire customer experience that was positive is quickly forgotten. 

In your business, remember that the customer experience is an ongoing experience.  It does not end until the customer stops using your product or service.  Make sure that your customer experience is what you planned it to be through out the entire customer experience.

- Mike Colwell

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We chose to pick up a Lazyboy leather love seat ourselves to avoid such a problem. Slumberland help at the pick-up on East Euclid was extremely rude, did not pick up the couch with any care and jumped on it to make the back go up.

This was approximately 2.5 years ago and I've never walked in the store or even looked at their ads in the paper since. Mary

While a do agree that the paid delivery dictatorship goes against any standard of customer service, I'm not so sure that all store/service branding can be defined as easily in black & white.
I own/operate an embroidery service in the metro and while I try my best to accommodate all customer requests, there are always the unrealistic "brand changing" situations. Many times a week, I get the frantic customer drop-in or call for an EES (emergency embroidery situation). Someone forgets Jimmy's birthday and needs a quick last minute monogrammed beach towel for a party that afternoon. It's a simple project, only three letters and then they can be on their way. Nevermind that the machines are already running a sizable order and normal wait time would be about three days. Now, my brand changes from beautiful and affordable embroidery to non-accommodating and difficult to work with.
I have to hope that their embarrassment about forgetting the birthday altogether stops them from speaking about their unsatisfying experience with my service.

Several years ago, we had a similar situation with the same company. We were getting rid of a water bed and had a great experience with the sales person, chose a new bad, arranged delivery of the new bed, and disposed of the water bed the day the new one was to be delivered. The delivery guys came in to set up the bed and informed us it was missing a key part needed to set it up and it had to be ordered from overseas to arrive in 4-6 weeks! Of course there was nothing that they could do as they were a third party deliverer. After many calls to Slumberland, they finally took the piece off the floor model at our insistence. Letters and calls to Slumberland headquarters went unanswered and to this day we continue to swear to never shop there again.

Mike, extra service takes too much time, money, and effort. You don't actually think that delivering MORE for the customer will get them to come back do you? It's a bed, you only buy it every 5-10 years, so they don't need you to come back. It's not like they did it to a guy with a widely read blog or anything.... Gosh... lighten up. ;-)

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