Since coming back from the summer holidays, where shopping wasn’t high on my agenda, I dived straight into online retail, but came back for air with mixed emotions. The question that I keep on pondering is how much customer service impacts our perception of the brand or retailer and when do you reach a boiling point and choose to simply walk away?
In the last couple of weeks I needed to restock on some supplements, fancied adding a new bag to my wardrobe and wanted to experiment with a new cleanser. I also wanted to get to know a fashion brand better and ordered a catalogue.
Cefinn is a fashion brand created by Samantha Cameron, wife of former PM David, mother of three and a woman who helped breath new life into Smythson. Popular with the fashion crowd and practical women who want to look stylish, but not overdone or too trendy, the brand recently announced via Instagram that their new A/W 2018 catalogue was hot off the press. I ordered one via Cefinn’s website and within two working days it landed on my mat. Elegant. Effortless. Everyday. Fast on its feet, attentive to customers, existing and new.
Organic Burst was one of the first supplement brands that really made an impression on my in the last decade of wellbeing evolution. Having been launched in London, it disrupted the way we viewed supplements, but just as it has build up a loyal following among customers and retailers, Katya and Dimitri, OB’s founders took the products off the retailers shelves and re-located to the US, leaving many, including myself, somewhat bewildered by such an unpredictable move. Having said that, Organic Burst still make their supplements and ships them around the world. It has a loyal following, supports its suppliers and workers, raising awareness of the working conditions and being a conscious, ethical and responsible brand. My recent order of ‘old’ favourites, Maca and Baobab, as well as Wheatgrass, have arrived within three days of my placing the order. Pleasing to the eye, beneficial to the body, quick on its feet, with regular updates on dispatch and estimated arrival.
DeMellier London is a brand founded by a beautiful, practical and creative woman, Mireia Llusia-Lindh, who successfully combines motherhood with work and remains charming and inquisitive along the way, treating her customers with the same charm and discretion, as she does her growing celebrity and royalty cleintelle. Having recently rebranded (original brand name was Milli Millu), DeMellier London recently launched Autumn 2018 edition of their in-house customer magazine. After exchanging opinions with Mireia, I ordered their new miniature bag The Siena (the brand uses inspiring cities from around the world as the names for their bags & mini leather accessories). With a chic gold chain and in a seasonal shade of purple, this bag arrived super quickly, lovingly and carefully packaged in a protective cotton bag, and even though I tend to favour large bags, this mini assistant now doesn’t seem to be far from my side.
By the same token I recently had super quick delivery from across the pond, from Beauty Heroes, following the issue that I experienced with my subscription box with the Royal Mail and my bookish Boxwalla. Each took less than a week. Interestingly and tellingly, it is often the smaller brands and companies that tend to provided efficient, attentive and speedy service, even though their budget and staff capabilities are limited.
Cult Beauty is a well-known beauty retailer, which regularly gets mentioned in the press and on social media. Recently there have been tentative mentions that founders are looking to sell the business – whether it’s true or not I don’t know, but if that happened, it wouldn’t be surprising, considering their growth and size. However, having been a CB customer from early on, nowadays I rarely place the orders. I do sometimes succumb to my ‘shopping’ impulses, when they are the only UK retailer to stock a brand, which was a case recently. I placed an order and it was dispatched two days later. The quoted delivery time is normally 3-7 work days. Other parcels arrived, but no the one from Cult Beauty. I e-mailed, I tweeted. I got a DM and exchanged e-mails. More time passed. No parcel. Again I chased. CB phone wasn’t manned, instead it had an answerphone on. Suffice to say that the parcel didn’t arrive within the time stated and neither did the replies from the customer service team within the 24-48hrs they quote. I also realised that this has been more or less the same pattern of service I have received on most of my Cult Beauty orders in the last year. But what made this particular shopping experience even worse, is that when my order arrived, it looked like this:
My writing of this post was driven by my own internal dialogue about customer care and loyalty and how important it is to customers, particularly when they have short attention spans, busy schedules and desire for instant gratification. Is it too much to expect a reply when the parcel hasn’t arrived on time? Or an update, if there is a delay in dispatch? Do we want to shop with retailers, who let us down again & again or do we take this as an opportunity to slow down, breath and practise being more patient? Do we raise a fuss or do we stay silent? Do we continue to support retailers which are driven by their own profit targets & agenda because they stock something that others don’t, rather than the desire to please the customer and provide him or her with courteous service and a feel-good experience, while achieving their business plan? All those questions floated around my head before and during writing of this post. Question is, what do YOU think and how do YOU differentiate retailers you choose to shop with regularly? Is customer service important or is it secondary, as long as receive what you paid for? What makes you reach a boiling points & walk away from the retailer for good? Please share what you think and what matters to YOU when it comes to the customer service you receive or want from online and high street retailers alike.