Category Archives: Luxury

Burberry, a lesson in customer service: Part 2

For those of you who read my previous post on Burberry, here comes part two in the case of the missing button.

Having published my post on Sunday afternoon,  I received another e-mail from Burberry on Monday morning. They’d picked up on my blog post (wow, they’re fast) and got in touch to try to “restore my faith”.  I was intrigued and agreed to have a chat.

Screen shot 2013-05-14 at 20.01.10

I have to say I was very impressed with how they dealt with me on the call. It wasn’t just that the lady I spoke to was incredibly friendly and apologetic  (as you’d expect), but it was also that she was open and honest about their internal processes and how she wanted to make sure they did better next time. She took the time to address some of the specific concerns I mentioned in my post, for example explaining to me how the social media team connects with the customer service team and so on.

I was left convinced that Burberry really is heading towards being a seamless back-end operation when it comes to joining the dots between customer service and marketing. This is the key first step for a brand to get right, to then deliver an equally seamless experience externally to customers. It’s all the more important when, like Burberry, you offer the option of customers being able to get in touch with your company via (very public) social media channels.

Even though, in my case, Burberry admitted they hadn’t followed the right course of action first time round (apparently, they shouldn’t have charged me for the button without a proper enquiry into any quality issues), the way they subsequently dealt with the problem struck a a good balance between attentiveness and humility.

In my day job as a brand strategist, we talk a lot about how ‘responsiveness’ is a defining quality of the most successful brands today and Burberry’s reaction to my expressed disappointment was a great example of this in action.

On my call with customer services, Burberry also talked to me about their ambition for customers to “have the same feeling in every channel” and this is a spot on strategy. It’s often the little things, the minute interactions – like replacing a missing button free of charge – that make the difference when it comes to how you feel about a brand, particularly one that promises luxury.

Best of all, my shiny new buttons arrived in the post this morning, in a lovely Burberry package and with a personal letter. Nice.

photo (30)

Well done Burberry. You have now given me a new story to tell. And a lesson in how you can change consumer perception  of  brand with a little bit of love.

Burberry and the case of the £35 button: A lesson in customer service.

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…

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Being a dutiful and trusting customer, I took @burberryservice’s advice and sent in a picture of my sad little buttonless trench to the twitter@burberry.com 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…

Screen shot 2013-05-12 at 15.53.33

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.

 

Menswear for all, London Collections trends

Last week’s London menswear collections had plenty to offer in terms of inspiration and not just for the boys. With many collections – from JW Anderson’s ruffly shorts to Katie Eary’s flower print jackets – blurring the boundaries between menswear and womenswear, it wasn’t difficult to spot some  themes with universal appeal.

1. Statement outerwear

Whether you’re more partial to an out-sized check or a bold flower print, the message across multiple collections was clear:  it is time to let your coat do the talking. It does make sense when you come to think of it, given that a coat is the first thing people see when they meet you and in these winter months, you probably wear it more often than any other item.

I’m not denying a patterned coat is a style leap. My current coat is so minimal and plain, it doesn’t even have visible buttons. And it also throws the whole scarf thing into disarray, as a statement scarf with a statement coat is probably a step too far. Even if you decide not to embrace the trend, you can still admire these outerwear beauties from afar.

E Tautz coat A/W 13-14 (image from vogue.co.uk)

E Tautz coat A/W 13-14 (image from vogue.co.uk)

 

Katie Eary flower prints A/W 13-14

Katie Eary flower prints A/W 13-14 (image from vogue.co.uk)

 

2. Loungewear as outerwear

Blurring the boundary between ‘private’ and ‘public’ clothes isn’t a new trend. Pyjama style blouses and trousers were all over the high street this winter and more disturbingly, the Onesie isn’t yet showing signs of dying out.

However, we’re talking another level when it comes to the loungewear on show last week. The Richard James shearling dressing gown/coat is  almost ridiculous in its extravagance but it is a beautiful thing and begs to be cuddled.  Any man wearing it instantly becomes more desirable or at least in danger of being accosted by girls wanting to snuggle up into it. Either way, both parties win.

Richard James shearling coat A/W 13-14

Richard James shearling coat A/W 13-14 (image from richardjames.co.uk)

A less Polar Bear-esque but equally luxurious version of this trend was seen at Alexander McQueen where the look was more of the “I’ve just nonchantly thrown this perfectly cut jacket over my exquisite silk dressing gown and I know I’m fabulous” vein.  A perfect balance of eccentricity and style.

Alexander McQueen LCM A/W 13-14 (image from vogue.co.uk)

3. Green

Not much to say other than green was everywhere, in all sort of shades, so you won’t be able to avoid it come next winter. It all looked lovely though, particularly at Rake and Richard James. On a side note, Rake wins the prize for the most handsome line up of models (see below for exhibit one). I admit this may have slightly influenced how much I liked the collection.

Rake A/W 13-14 (image from vogue.co.uk)

Rake A/W 13-14 (image from vogue.co.uk)

Richard James A/W 13-14 (image from richardjames.co.uk)

Richard James A/W 13-14 (image from richardjames.co.uk)

 

 

 

Maiyet

Let me introduce you to, Maiyet, brought to my attention by my dear friend Joe, who happens to be working with them on their digital strategy.

Maiyet happens to have all the qualities I’d look for in a modern luxury label: gorgeous, stand-out clothes but also a philosophy and purpose that goes beyond luxury.  Maiyet outlines their mission as “celebrating rare artisanal skills from unexpected places around the world” and introducing them to the fashion world, via their beautiful designs.  As far as I can tell, this isn’t a token effort to tick the ethical box – Maiyet has entered into a strategic partnership with Nest, a nonprofit dedicated to training and developing artisan businesses in the places that need it the most.

This label also does a good line in atmospheric campaign images, craftsmanship videos and a perfect selection of ethereally beautiful models. They know their brand and they know who their audience is (that would be me, but richer).

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Maiyet Autumn 2012

Anyway, once you see the clothes you’ll probably forget about the worthy back-story for a moment and instead focus your energies on how on earth you get your hands on one of these beauties. Right now, they aren’t widely available in the UK (only net-a-porter and Selfridges from what I can see) but this is set to change next year. Ultimately, it is this desirability that signals real success for Maiyet.

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Maiyet Spring collection

 

An introduction to swimwear

I had my first introduction to the art of swimwear this Friday, over a Shoreditch breakfast with the lovely Ruth from Olga Olsson and my two Digit fashion buddies – Alexis and Nomfundo.

For such a small piece of clothing, an awful lot of care and time goes into creating a swimsuit. In fact, probably almost as much time and anxiety as it takes the average girl to find a swimsuit that she feels comfortable in.

We’d probably all save a bit of time (and pain) if we were able to take Ruth along with us to the annual swimwear shopping trip. After years of helping customers find the perfect swimsuit for their shape, it only takes her a matter of seconds to recommend what would suit us girls, despite the fact we are clad in multiple layers of clothing.

It helps that her collection of luxury swimwear is full of highly desirable pieces with designs to suit all body shapes and style preferences. My favourite piece was the Marilyn sweetheart ruched one piece whilst Alexis had her eye on the lovely high-waisted Lara bikini.

Marilyn one piece from Olga Olsson

Lara bikini from Olga Olsson

It is true that these pieces will set you back more than your average M&S cossie – my current swimsuit did only cost me £15 after all – but alongside making you feel more confident, the Olga Olsson pieces are made with environmentally responsible materials and techniques where possible.

Five Fashion week Favourites

With nearly every label now sharing their shows online, there has been such a flood of fashion week material, it’s pretty overwhelming, even for the diehard fans

So, to make it easy for you, here are just five things to look at. Consider it your fashion week summary, brought to you by Elle Tea. Obviously, it’s a completely subjective summary, but I hope you’ll agree it’s a very pleasant one, full of things that feel relevant to now (i.e spring time – hurray!), not just A/W 12-13. If I had to identify a thread that unites all five pieces, it’s probably a certain freshness, often inspired by the natural world, be that literally or in a more abstract way.

Anyway, enjoy!

1. Preen

This beautiful, fresh-as-a-daisy collection definitely felt more spring/summer like than autumn/winter but I’m not complaining. The prints manage to feel both classic and completely original all at once. And I love the slightly more angular take on the now ubiquitous Peter Pan Collar – this sharper collar was spotted at a number of other shows, notably Victoria Beckham. It’s going to be a trend…

Preen A/W 12-13 (image from gorunway.com)

2. Mary Katrantzou

Speaking of flowery prints, Mary Katrantzou made her name designing vibrant, flower-based prints. This season she moved on a little and the result was a collection of striking, more geometric designs. Also featuring, was a new, more exaggerated take on the peplum skirt. I predict/hope that high street stores like Cos will be inspired by this collection.

Mary Katrantzou A/W 12-13 (image from gorunway)

3. Burberry

I tried to resist mentioning Burberry given their absolute dominance of the fashion press these days but I can’t help it. Their show was just so charming and the clothes so desirable, it would be an injustice to fashion not to mention it. And no one wants to be accused of that. The owl jumpers were a highlight – simply the cutest thing seen at fashion week.

NB – owls are fast becoming a trend in their own right and may soon be worthy of an entire blog post. Watch this space.

Burberry owls A/W 12-13 (image from garancedore)

4. McQ

Again, can’t not mention the McQ show. Dramatic, original, amazing. The picture says it all.

McQ A/W 12-13 (image from guardian.co.uk)

5. Erdem

Last but not least, a constant favourite of mine. Some people accuse Erdem of being a little boring and when compared to the likes of McQueen, he is certainly safer and less outrageous. However, if you’re looking for a show that is a sheer delight to the eyes, Erdem is your man.

Check out those spikey, small collars again! They will be everywhere soon.

Erdem A/W 12-13 (image from gorunway)

Couture week favourites

Sorry for the blog silence of late. I’ve been doing a course at London College of Fashion (more on that in a future post) which means my free time has been a bit limited. I did, however, manage to sneak a quick peek of last week’s couture shows.

So here comes a very simple post. Three dresses by three amazing designers with one common theme – the extremely feminine, pretty Spring dress. Yes they are a little saccharine, especially if like me, you usually err towards a bit of tomboy chic. But in January, we all need a little bit of sugar and spice and all things nice.

1. Spring freshness in a dress, from Valentino. Note the cute, printed shoes.

Valentino Spring/Summer couture (image from stylist.co.uk)

2. Pure and white, from Elie Saab

Elie Saab Spring/Summer Couture (image from stylist.co.uk)

3. Preppy checks from Dior

Dior Spring/Summer Couture (image from stylist.co.uk)