Tag Archive for bath and body works customer service

What Can We Learn From Hillary’s Biggest Campaign Mistake?

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This election season, it doesn’t matter which way you voted, or who you most wanted to win – this was hands down the craziest election in some time, and it’s likely you looked like the woman above when the final results were in. As a data geek, I have been fascinated throughout the entire process. Once the election was over, I was eager to see the post election analysis – how could so many get it wrong and the country be so surprised with Trump’s win?

 

I wanted the dust to settle and look at all the theories before writing this. It took some time for the shock to wear off in the media so they could start looking at what happened. It looks like there is one theory out there that played a big role in Clinton’s loss, and it is a good lesson for marketers.

 

The initial thought was “How could the polls be so wrong?” Now that we’ve got some time behind us, we’re seeing they really weren’t that wrong. Clinton does lead in the popular vote by quite a significant difference. So, if the polls weren’t that off, what happened exactly?

 

In listening to a few post election analysis segments, it was interesting to me that one theory rests on simple marketing. Clinton perhaps did not do enough research into what the electorate looks like in terms of economy, demographics, and the like. It is thought that she was following the 2012 model, especially since part of her strategy appeared to be creating a third Obama term. She gauged her campaign based on the data from 2012.

 

The problem? The electorate in 2016 is not the same electorate. Things have changed, demographics have shifted, and in essence it’s a different “customer” than it was four years ago.

 

This is where Clinton may have gone wrong; she didn’t get a handle on her true “customer” and therefore, her message was not effective enough to lead to the landslide victory that many were predicting.

 

As a marketer, this is fascinating and important to remember – your customer of yesterday may not be your customer today, and by making the assumption that things are as they have been, it can be detrimental to your marketing efforts.

 

What can you, as a marketer, do to ensure you are aware of your ever changing customer and market appropriately?

 

Continually review data: take a look at your data on a regular basis. Do you see any shifts in trends? Are people spending more or less? Is there a shift to an increase in online vs in store visits? Any changes should be investigated further to learn how your customer base may be changing.

 

Keep in touch with your customers: feedback programs are not only helpful to gauge satisfaction & loyalty. They can be a key indicator of a shift in your customer base. Continually monitor feedback and make sure you are reaching new customers – don’t solely focus on those who participate in a loyalty program, for example. This may be a segment of your customer base that may be more traditional in how you see your consumer demographics, but there may be a new segment you’re not seeing.

 

Use social media research: this is another tool that can give great insight into your industry. While many brands will use social media monitoring to keep tabs on their customers, another great use is to expand the social research to your competitors and industry as a whole. See what people are saying about products/services in your industry – are their expectations, pain points, and satisfaction standards changing at all compared to what they once were? If so, you may be targeting the wrong customer base if you’re using “old” marketing.

 

This was no doubt the most painful loss Clinton has ever experienced; candidates in future elections will study her strategy and learn from it, no doubt. There were also many good lessons for marketers to learn as well. Keeping tabs on customers and realizing that changes will happen over time is one key to ensuring your marketing message stays relevant and effective down the road.

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First Comcast, Now Bath & Body Works – How Metrics Can Hurt Business

Did you hear of this story last week? If you’re on social media, or in the St. Louis area, it’s likely that you’ve read or heard about it:

 

 

This story went viral very quickly, and highlights some of Bath and Body Works’ operational procedures that landed them in some hot water with the special needs community.

 

To sum it up, a group of special needs students was participating in a project that entailed visiting stores to learn skills related to shopping, purchasing, and other life necessities. All was well until they visited the Bath & Body works store, at which time they were not allowed entry. Why? Because the manager assumed that they were not going to make a purchase, and explained that by entering without making a purchase, the store’s “numbers” would be off, so they could not enter.

 

The fact that it happened to a group of special needs students made this a much more emotional story, as it appeared that the manager was making assumptions that were very wrong to make – would the manager have stopped other teenagers in the same manner, assuming because they were teens that they wouldn’t make a purchase? Or what about a mom whose toddler or young child wandered into the store because they like smelling the different products? Would they have been asked to leave, since it may have been “clear” that they were there to browse, not shop?

 

Peeling away the details a bit, it struck me that this stemmed from a simple operational metric that must be vital to a manager’s success at this retailer – the number of customers who enter versus the number of purchases made. This is well known as a conversion counter or traffic sensor. It’s a pretty typical standard, but one that must be so heavily emphasized within this company that it causes situations like this happen.

 

I did some browsing online to see what the general buzz was, and found that Bath & Body works did do some quick damage control by addressing the issue on their Facebook page:

 

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That was a positive move, yet one that brought to light the very issue that brought me to this article – employees, both current and former, flocked to the page to share their confirmation that the company relies so heavily on this metric, that they may be forgetting the “service” part of the experience:

 

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Of course, this is reflective of one manager at one of their retail locations, and may not be indicative of the retailer as a whole. However, this story was eerily reminiscent of the Comcast story that broke several months ago – when companies focus so much on one metric or training goal, the basics of customer service get lost by employees who, for whatever reason, take it to the extreme. In this case, the manager could have been facing poor numbers and was recently talked to by regional managers. Maybe the manager was close to a bonus (or being let go) and took things to the extreme. We’ll never know, but by relying on the success of the store based on this metric AND double teaming it with discrimination, it led to an ugly situation for the company.

 

A good lesson for businesses – metrics are important and useful to pinpoint strengths and challenges, and to ensure employees are meeting operational standards. However, they should never be presented as a “do or die” to the success of a location – it could end up hurting the company in the long run.

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