What’s in Style: 1:1 Relationships with Email (A True Story)
I’m going to share a personal story which I think really shows the value of email marketing and, probably more importantly, the value of having actual humans in your customer service department.
To be completely honest, I don’t sign up for a lot of email newsletters with my personal email account. However, one of the companies that holds exclusive access to my personal account is Hurley International – a worldwide clothing and surf wear brand that almost lost my confidence a few weeks ago, but then turned it around in a huge way.
About two weeks ago, Hurley sent me a promotional message asking me to check out (and presumably visit their online store to buy) their new Spring 2012 hats. Admittedly, I’m a little bit of a hat addict and I was sold on one of the new colors, so I clicked through to buy only to find it was sold out! I honestly clicked through on this email within minutes of receiving it on my smart phone, so it’s not like it sat around for 3 weeks in my inbox.
Being the marketer that I am, I decided to do a little experiment. I replied back to the email (I didn’t call, I didn’t tweet) asking something along the lines of, “Hey Hurley, you sent me an email asking me to buy one of your products, and when I went to buy it, it was already sold out – how much sense does that make?” They responded back fairly quickly (within 24 hours) with a cookie-cutter answer: “Hi Torben, thanks for your interest – that hat is currently sold out but check back soon to see if it’s available.” I thought to myself, that’s exactly what I’d expect to see from Customer Service and didn’t really have any intention of going back and looking for a re-stock – it was more of an impulse situation to begin with, and Hurley had essentially lost the sale.
The next week I get an email back from the same person who had responded to me initially. “Hey Torben, we found an extra hat sitting around the office in the color you wanted, can you send us your address?” Now this surprised me. “Awesome, they actually remembered my request!” But by now, the impulse had worn off, and I was a little tepid about buying the hat and paying the shipping costs from California. Long story short, Hurley ended up mailing me the hat completely free of charge and included a personalized print out of and note from the headwear design team. To me, that was a huge deal and I think it’s safe to say, this act has solidified my long-term commitment to the brand and helped me share a story of great customer service with my friends and colleagues.
If you’re an email marketer, ask yourself what’s the situation with the reply function in your marketing emails – have you checked it lately? It could be a great opportunity for you to rekindle or start a relationship with your customers that you never knew could exist!