Last month my father gave me a beautiful Mont Blanc pen as a present. I was thrilled. I had wanted one for nearly thirty years and now at last I owned one.
My delight lasted precisely two weeks.
The pen suffered a fall. It rolled off our kitchen table and landed on the floor – a drop of less than one metre. A drop any Bic, Parker or other less prestigious brand would have survived with ease. But when I reached down I saw to my horror that the MontBlanc was now in two pieces.
I decided to visit ultra smart Royal Exchange retail outlet.
The staff were polite if somewhat patronising. If anything I was made to feel at fault. The charge to return the pen back to the manufacturer was an astonishing £62.00.
I had the box, but no receipt. So much to my embarrassment I was required to call my father so he could email through proof of purchase.
Today I received a call from Mont Blanc – my pen was ready but the charge was still £44.00 because they did not consider the breakage to be a manufacturing fault. Less than impressed I returned to Royal Exchange. To the staff member’s surprise I asked for the contact details of their brand manager (not customer services). Realising something was up and that I had the potential to be a real pain, the Mont Blanc staff eventually relented and waived the charge.
Despite this final gesture, would I ever consider buying another Mont Blanc pen? – sadly not. Am I a brand advocate – sadly not.
Compare this experience with Kitchen Aid. My colleague bought a food mixer from them and identified a problem with the bowl. KitchenAid simply sent him a new mixer. Their no quibble, immediate response left my colleague speechless with delight. Will he buyer other Kitchen Aid products? – of course he will. Is he a brand advocate – of course he is.
At the heart of these two stories is the attitude towards customers. More specifically trusting customers. Mont Blanc’s attitude left me feeling unworthy of their brand as I had to prove my case. There was no simply question that their product could have been at fault. My perception of the brand is in tatters.
In contrast, KitchenAid enhanced their brand reputation by treating the customer like royalty.
What lessons could any marketer learn from this?