Let me paint you a picture. I wake up in Toronto, on a bachelor party and have this nagging notion that something is wrong…
Then it hits me. I forgot to order my pregnant wife’s gift before leaving the country just days before her birthday. Panic immediately sets in. Now keep in mind I didn’t bring a laptop or tablet and chose not to get an international data plan for my phone.
I race down to the hotel lobby and jump on one of their ancient machines running Windows Vista with IE as the only browser choice — my nightmare begins. I pull up Gmail, run a search for “bday ideas,” and click on the link for a pair of Tory Burch shoes. Find the right size, add to cart, choose expedited shipping, proceed to checkout… and realize that I forgot to grab my wallet when I ran out of my room.
No sweat, PayPal to the rescue! Or so I thought. After checking out with PayPal, I receive a confirmation email from Tory Burch where I notice the shoes were shipped ground and won’t arrive until after my wife’s birthday. By this time my friends have started to gather in the lobby and we’re ready to head to the Blue Jays game. I quickly forwarded the email to customer service and asked them to please change the shipping option.
After the game and a few pints, we end up at the Loose Moose ( it’s a bar, swear ) where they have free WiFi. I check my email and read the response from customer service.
“Unfortunately Mr. Logue, when you checkout with PayPal you don’t have the option to upgrade your shipping method.”
I reply asking them to cancel my order, so that I can repurchase the shoes using my debit card and choose two-day shipping.
“Unfortunately Mr. Logue, we can’t cancel nor modify your order at this time.”
Frustrated, I decide that it will be easier to just wait until I get home to repurchase the shoes at an actual Tory Burch store.
Two days later, and with just 24 hours left, I make my way to the store and immediately have a much better experience than I’d been having online. A very nice woman named Michelle introduces herself and asks if she can assist me with anything. I begin to explain my situation and ask what she can do. Michelle tells me that once my online order arrives to simply bring it in to her store and she’ll return them no problem. She grabs a new pair of shoes, swipes my debit card and tells me that it isn’t going through. Wonderful.
She remembers me saying that I just returned from Canada and thinks my bank may have put a hold on my card. I give my bank a call, get put on hold, transferred, hold again, and then Michelle emerges from the back of the store like some kind of customer service angel…
“Would you like this Corona or perhaps a glass of wine while you get this sorted?”
What an unexpected surprise! My mood immediately changed. Not because of the free booze, but because Michelle saw that I was having a rough day and went above and beyond to make me happy. Eventually, Chase lifts the hold on my card, Michelle charges it and wraps my wife’s gift. Now this is where most transactions end, but she was just getting started.
The next day, I receive an email from Michelle thanking me for my purchase and reminding me that whenever the original order shows up I can bring it in and she’ll return it for me. A few days later my wife and I head back to Tory Burch. We walk in and Michelle greets me by name and introduces herself to my wife. While she’s returning the original order, my wife begins trying on shoes and I take a seat. Within seconds, I have a Corona in one hand and an iPad in the other. These people are good. Michelle knows that if she can make me comfortable and keep me preoccupied, my wife will have more time to drain the bank account.
After the return was complete and my wife was done browsing, we left the store. A few days later, I receive another email from Michelle.
“Hi Doug, It was a pleasure meeting your wife, Lindsay. Just wanted to check in and make sure she was completely satisfied with her new shoes. Also, I noticed her trying on the navy blue Kaitlin Wedges in 8.5. Would you like me to put these on hold for a future purchase?”
This was the first time I’ve seen online marketing being fused with an offline transaction. Marketers like myself, use software to show you ads for products you recently searched for or viewed in hopes of getting you to complete your purchase. The fact that Michelle was doing this manually really impressed me.
One of the things I liked most was the personalization of this email. Michelle used my name, my wife’s name, the type of shoes she tried on, the size of the shoe, the color, and included a picture. I’m sure that Tory Burch has some type of CRM that populates the email with my basic information, but the shoes my wife tried on didn’t have a tracking pixel embedded in them. That information had to be entered manually. I’m not sure if this is common practice at their stores or exclusive to Michelle. Either way, I highly recommend other retailers find a way to merge offline interactions with online communication and vice versa.
These tactics are usually only seen in the B2B space, where the sales cycle is much longer than an in-store retail purchase. However, I believe these practices will become commonplace in the very near future. Especially with the introduction of geofencing technologies including Estimote and Apple’s iBeacons. Merging the offline and online worlds is something I’m extremely interested in and will be exploring in the coming months.
Needless to say, I follow up with Michelle and thank her for offering to hold the shoes. At the time, I wasn’t ready to make a new purchase. About a month later, I receive a phone call from Michelle.
“Hi Doug, This is Michelle from Tory Burch. Is now a good time to talk?”
Normally, I would identify this as a sales call and say no. However, my previous experience with Michelle kept me on the line.
“I just wanted to call and let you know the shoes your wife was interested in are now 30% off.”
Did a sales rep really just call me and tell me a product was on sale? Sure I get email coupons and alerts for generic sales all day long, but once again this was personal and specific. Since the holidays were right around the corner, I told Michelle to move forward with the purchase. Michelle saved me from having to fight holiday crowds and traffic. She saved me from having to distinguish what “super cute” shoes my wife had been trying on that day. And she saved me 30%! This was a new level of customer service that I wasn’t familiar with, but could definitely get used to. This experience has coined a few sayings in the Logue household…
“Honey, I want… just email the link to Michelle.”
“This would never happen at Tory Burch.”
“$300 Coronas just taste better.”
Soon stores and physical items will send reminders to your mobile device about which pair of shoes your wife tried on. Until then, find a Michelle.
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