As I read Shelly’s recent post recounting her frustrating customer service experience with retailer Hanna Andersson, I was of course struck by the company’s unwillingness to take the simple steps to retain her business. As a digital marketer, however, I was even more shocked by how such a fundamental mistake caused the whole mess in the first place. Hanna Andersson brought this upon itself.
Shelly was a perfectly happy customer. She wasn’t chasing promotional pricing or trying to chase an elusive great deal. She just bought some stuff. Had Hanna Andersson not made a basic mistake in its customer relationship management and e-mail strategy, there would be no story to tell.
Instead, they actively gave Shelly a reason to be frustrated. They trigged the costly engagement of their customer service team, who failed to handle the situation appropriately, and then lost a customer in the process.
By sending a promotional e-mail offering free shipping the morning after she’d paid for shipping, the company was effectively sending a targeted, intentional message that might as well have read “you should have gotten a better deal.”
She tried. An arbitrary few hours made them choose not to extend the promotion to her, and this premium brand provided cut-rate service. It was an understandably unsatisfactory interaction that should have never happened.
When Shelly opted into future communications with her purchase, Hanna Andersson was given great email targeting ability with the power to reach her inbox. Had they been more strategic, they could have leveraged that privilege to win repeat business. Instead, they shot themselves in the foot.
Marketing automation requires strong data and strategy to break through with relevance, and consumers are continually trading their data for personalized experiences. Marketers can build a rich profile of their customers, and provide really great targeted messaging that their customers welcome.
Short of that, Hanna Andersson should have at least started by suppressing promotions going to customers that just bought the same products being promoted, and not kick-starting the road to e-mail fatigue by hitting them up 12 hours after their last transaction.
In this case, Hanna Andersson had all the data they needed to avoid this situation. They just failed to use it. They treated Shelly like an anonymous prospect, without considering the context of her purchase less than a day earlier, or any of the many other characteristics they could have learned from her transaction.
In an age where retailers are conditioning consumers to always wait for a better deal in a constant cycle of promotions, Shelly is the most valuable kind of customer to have. She just buys stuff when she wants it. They knew the circumstances of her purchase, and should have handled her communications more strategically.
Instead, they lost her.
That’s a strange thing to accomplish with your marketing strategy.
Matt Staub is a Partner at Graphicmachine, a Full-Service Branding and Digital Marketing Agency in Kansas City. He has over a decade of experience in project management, social media strategy, and digital marketing with brands like Sprint and H&R Block, and really likes to eat pizza.