Just when the weather finally started getting warm enough to get out my beloved Burberry trench, a button fell off. Not the pulled-together look I was planning for the transition into Spring. Thankfully, it didn’t take long to find out that – being the digitally savvy sort of company that it is – Burberry has a specific Twitter feed for these sort of #firstworldproblems.
So I tweeted @burberryservice and they impressively replied (within an hour) to say they were ‘sorry to hear’ about my missing button, along with some suggestions for how I could get it fixed. So far, so good…
Being a dutiful and trusting customer, I took @burberryservice’s advice and sent in a picture of my sad little buttonless trench to the firstname.lastname@example.org team. Again, not as quickly as the Twitter team, but still more swiftly than you could ever get through to your bank, Wendy from customer service e-mailed me with the following message…
Now, on reading the first line, I was just as ‘delighted’ as Wendy to find out they had managed to track down a matching button to replace mine. It was only when I read the next paragraph stating the cost of said button that my delight turned into disbelief. £25 for a button plus £10 shipping??! Are they serious? That’s £35 in total – I could get a brand new trench from M&S for that price. And I’ve actually seen some nice ones this season. Via a very nicely shot Vogue promotion. Not that that’s the point. But still.
In a matter of minutes, I’d gone from feeling like a valued customer and, I’ll admit, part of an exclusive club of trench owners, to feeling like I was being ripped off and taken for a ride. Or worse still, that perhaps I didn’t deserve to be part of the luxury world of Burberry because if I did, I should be the sort of person that doesn’t question spending £35 on a replacement button and probably hasn’t ever needed to sew on a button themselves in their entire life. There’s staff for that.
Maybe I was being naive but I sort of expected, that having spent so much on their trench coat, Burberry might have been generous enough to provide a replacement button free of charge, or at least for a nominal fee. After all, they themselves are the ones that sell these things on the basis of them being a ‘lifetime investment’, something to cherish forever etc.
Anyway, it so happens that ebay has a great selection of genuine Burberry buttons for sale at a more palatable price of £6.50 so that’s where I’ll be going.
But I can’t help feeling let down by this brand which is so applauded for it’s innovation and responsiveness online, yet simply didn’t deliver when it came down to making me feel special. I don’t want to be cynical but I wonder if the swift response on the (very public) customer service Twitter feed was purely another part of the slick Burberry PR machine. But when it came down to the private interaction with a customer, their ruthless, profit-driven side came out. It’s as if the responsibility for the customer experience moved away from being controlled by marketing (the Twitter bit) to the finance department (the £35 bit).
It’s a real case of showing the importance of the entire experience of the brand and customer journey. To me, it proves that those responsible for the ‘brand’ and customer experience need to be involved at all stages of customer interaction, not just the big, flashy ad campaigns.
It wouldn’t have costed Burberry much to send me that button, but you can’t put a price on how I’d have felt about the company if they’d done it differently. It would definitely have left me even more positively disposed towards a brand I already admire and have already bought into. And it would have given me a different story to tell.