This is a real-life customer experience fail story.
One that happens at businesses small and large, every single day.
I was the customer.
The brand that failed me, ranks in Forbes Top 5 world’s largest Computer Hardware companies.
I share this story, not to bad mouth the brand, whose charitable work in local communities I admire, but to illustrate how a poor customer experience amplified by bad marketing automation can damage your brand and lose you business.
Customer experience fail: A true story
I’m a Mac guy.
Do you know how freaking hard it is for Mac users to switch to PC!?
According to a 2017 Verto Analytics survey, only 2% of Mac users plan to switch to PC over the next two years, while 25% of PC desktop users plan to switch to Mac.
Why does this matter?
Because I was that 2%. Through a combination of timing, needs, and research, I was ready to make the jump.
I spent weeks researching this new laptop: great looks, fantastic specs, good for the planet, high reviews at CES, fair price – SOLD!
On January 14, 2018, I took the leap of faith and purchased my new PC.
And that’s when it went all wrong…
Problem #1: It doesn’t work
The laptop arrived on January 22nd, and I’ll give them props on the packaging – it was beautiful and made with recycled materials.
Oh, I was so excited to play with it!
But when I opened it, it didn’t work properly. The mouse pad kept freezing and the screen glitching, making the machine impossible to use.
Problem #2: Customer serv-ish
Sure, it was disappointing having waited so eagerly for a product that doesn’t work, but these things happen.
No problem I thought.
I’ll simply call support and ask them to send me a new one, while I return the faulty model.
Instead, over the next three days, I spent a few hours on the phone with two different service team members and exchanged 11 emails.
Although they were very nice and polite, I had to explain the situation over and over again, and the solutions they offered weren’t solutions at all, such as send us the laptop, we’ll open it up and attempt to fix it. You should get it back within 45 days.
Finally, I insisted on a return for a full refund.
They ended the call with the mandatory line “Thank you for choosing us” 🤔
Problem #3: Epic Marketing Automation Fails
Within 14 days of my initial purchase, the brand sent me 10 emails from 9 different email addresses.
To date they’ve sent me close to 300 emails, mostly screaming discounts for products I could care less about.
None of these 10 emails offered any value, but the last one was a true stroke of genius.
The day after I received the UPS return label for the broken laptop, the subject line read (paraphrasing):
“Drum roll…introducing you to the computer you just bought, didn’t work, and returned. Buy it again!”
They did call me a week later to offer me a new laptop for 50% off, but it was too late.
I ran back to Apple, happily paid 2.5X for my new MacBook Pro, and for the first time truly appreciated the genius of their pre and post customer experience.
The moral: marketing automation is an amplifier, not a solution.
Unfortunately, this type of experience happens all of the time, including in B2B.
At the root of the problem is data and process (or lack of).
Most companies struggle to have a unified view of their customers because of incomplete data and more importantly due to disconnected systems and processes. In 2018, this is astonishing.
Ensuring your customer data flows properly between your website, marketing automation platform, and CRM is a must. Ideally, these are also integrated with your customer service and billing softwares.
Regrettably, I see too many companies putting this off and moving immediately to launching campaigns and sending email blasts.
Data and process are the foundation of marketing automation, and if you don’t get this right first, everything else will crumble.
Could have, should have, would have: a better customer experience.
Had this been my experience, I would still be their customer and possibly a brand advocate willing to share my delight with the world.
- Me: January 14, I buy my new laptop.
Brand: Systems are updated marking my profile with the product type, purchase date, and estimated delivery date.
- Me: I receive a thoughtfully crafted welcome email from the brand, thanking me for the purchase.
Brand: Enters my profile into an automated email welcome track. Automatic suppression from any marketing promo tracks selling unrelated products.
- Me: January 22, I get an early morning email (same from address) letting me know the laptop is arriving and sharing a video to peak my excitement all over again.
Brand: My profile progresses through the welcome track.
- Me: January 22, the product doesn’t work. I call customer service and they immediately offer a free return in exchange for a working model and a gift card for my troubles.
Brand: Systems are updated. Suppression from the welcome track. Customer service easily pulls my purchasing history and sends a confirmation email recapping what we agreed.
- Me: 3-5 days later. I get the new laptop with the gift card, it works and I’m a happy customer, delighted with how quick and easy it was to resolve the issue. I tell my friends 🙂
Brand: My profile re-enters into the welcome track at the right step. Upsell emails can wait.
- Me: 2 days later. I get a call from the brand to confirm everything is working properly – it does! It’s followed by a customer survey email.
Brand: System alerts customer service to make a follow-up call, they see notes on the situation. Automatic survey email is triggered post call.