I just returned a pair of shoes to New Balance that didn’t fit. New Balance sent them back to me because it didn’t have the cheap insoles that came with them. I bought a pair of $45 insoles to go with the shoes and threw the cheap ones away. Luckily, I had already bought replacement shoes and had not thrown those insoles out, so UPS is getting revenue from two unnecessary shipments.
Obviously, New Balance has a policy about what constitutes “like new condition.” “Missing insoles” renders the shoes to be deemed “not in like new condition,” regardless of what else the customer ordered — $45 insoles, $70 pants and another pair of $80 shoes — enough to earn “silver” status in its myNBrewards program.
I was in the process of changing from Asics to New Balance, because my workout routine has changed. But New Balance has made a less than positive impression. While the company has mapped the customer journey, it didn’t get to the point where it considered returns.
In the future, I’ll deal with Zappos. The business makes it simpler and easier for me to buy and return shoes.
What’s the first impression your company, product or service makes on a prospective customer? Are your parking lots/garages clean? Are your entries/exits clean? Are your bathrooms clean? Do you offer free, easy to access, Wi-Fi? Is your website secure, easy to navigate and purchase from?
These are basic considerations for any business, whether B2B or B2C. Artificial intelligence and machine learning will ultimately help improve the customer experience, but you will still need people to help you make a positive first impression. A first impression is critical if you’re going to turn a prospect into a customer for which you can provide an experience.
I continue to urge companies to differentiate on the basis of customer experience — the bar is so low, it’s doesn’t take a lot of effort or money to impress. Just some common sense.