Tuesday, 8 January 2013

The Crazy and Baffling World of Customer Care

Ah, the elusive and baffling world of Customer Care. Some companies do it brilliantly (First Direct and ASOS) and some do it horrendously (Ryan Air and HMRC)

There is one company that my grandmother has always sworn by. The classic British shoe shop: Clarks.

This year, back in April, I decided to be eco and budget friendly, all in one. I'd buy an expensive pair of shoes to last me a while. I live in London, and we Londoners love to walk. I walk from Bermondsey to my studio in Angel everyday, and there and back tots up around 2.5 hours of walking time. So I needed a hardy pair of shoes to last me at least a year, maybe two.

I found an awesome pair of boots at Clarks, and for the whopper of a price tag (£99) I felt I was making a very grown-up and very intelligent decision. Let me tell you about these shoes. They're so comfy, and even though they've got a wedge heel, it sure doesn't feel like it. I loved them as soon as I put them on, and the online reviews were saying the same.

Disaster* (*Maybe not disaster, more a fly in the ointment) struck when a rip appeared along the side of the left shoe, 3 months in. Unfortunately, I had chucked the receipt, and having paid in cash, I had no proof that I had bought these shoes when I did. I hoped that they would take me on my word.

Clarks offered me £50 store credit. I thought this was generous, and stingy at the same time. Generous, becuase I had no receipt so they had no guarantee that I had bought the shoes when I said I had, and stingy because for £49 extra, they would be declaring that they believed that their customer was telling them the truth, and that they valued me. I found myself wondering; what's another £49 from Clarks to keep a customer? The shoes had broken, 3 months in, and I was definitely not going to fork out more cash to buy new ones.

I refused the £50 store credit, and let them know I wouldn't go again.  I also told this, perhaps boring, tale of woe to my Gran, my mum, and my friends and colleagues. They probably won't shop with Clarks again, either.

So although my customer care experience with Clarks cost them potentially a few life long customers, I did learn how much Clarks values them...£50.

And not a penny more.

So! The moral of this story is, treat your customers well, and they'll defend the company to the end. Be stingy about refunds and imply that they're all a bunch of liars, and you've lost them for life. Pretty simple, I guess!

Scheiss auf Clarks.

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