Put A Date On Hold

Breaking down the Bonobos breakdown | Part 3

Bonobos — the menswear retailer Walmart purchased for $310 million a couple of years ago — isn’t doing too well.

And it’s a real shame because I actually really like their products. They’re stylish, well-made, just really great clothes.

The thing that’s not so great? The customer experience

If you’ve already checked out part 1 of my Bonobos breakdown analysis, you’ll have seen how the brand failed to impress after the first moment of commitment. And in part 2 you’ll remember that things went from so-so to pretty terrible when I actually visited the store and bought some suits.

But, hey, things can only get better right? And just maybe, in part 3, they’ll totally redeem themselves. After all, I’ve already made my purchase. All they need to do is ship it out: job done.

Well, let’s just see…

Miami Matt strikes again?

Poor Miami Matt — he’s going to get a raw deal in this post. You see, after his lackluster performance at the Guideshop, I was slightly apprehensive when my Bonobos order turned up at my house. So when I opened the box and found that they’d delivered the wrong size pants, I immediately blamed MM. I was cursing that kid and his incompetence!

As it turned out, Miami Matt wasn’t to blame for this particular screw up. He actually had ordered the right pants, and it was the warehouse that had shipped the wrong size.

But here’s the deal: I blamed Matt anyway because he failed at Loyalty Loop lesson 1:

1. Scale camaraderie

A personal experience requires a personal touch. When your team delivers a lackluster experience, customers first blame the team, the people, and then they blame the brand, which is exactly why Miami Matt should have scaled camaraderie and checked in on my order.

You see, if Miami Matt was truly on my team, he would have tracked my package. They shipped it through FedEx, so he could have just called the second it arrived to make sure that everything was okay. But I got nothing. So I just blamed Miami Matt. And my already low opinion of the brand sank even lower.

Mistakes happen, of course, but all it takes is a very small acknowledgement that you’re on the same team to build that trust and respect back up. So what are you doing to scale camaraderie with your customers? And could you do more to build that mutual respect?

Returning the pants

Back to the pants saga. So, they’re a 38, a size too big and they’re going to have to go back. Not super convenient but another chance for Bonobos redeem themselves.

I discover they have an app for returns, which sounds great. So I download the app and try to return the pants. Only, because it was the warehouse that made the mistake, and not Miami Matt, the invoice states the right pants size. And the app won’t let me exchange a size 36 for a size 36.

So, I have to call…wait for it…the Bonobos “Ninjas”. Cute, right? I actually looked up the dictionary definition of “ninja” and it says, “A ninja is a person who excels in a particular skill.” So I have high hopes of their customer services team. You’d think I’d learn, wouldn’t you?

You guessed it, it was hard to get through, then there was a ton of plane traffic noise to contend with, and then a boring old standard message:

“There are several options for getting in touch with us. You can chat with us…”

I didn't leave a message, but I did try to use their Help page. And it didn’t work on my phone. There were no ninjas available to chat on their chat thingy. And the Contact Us link does not work on mobile either. Now, that is no ninja-level customer service.

Which brings me to Loyalty Loop lesson 2:

2. Go undercover

Everyone, yes, everyone in your organization should go undercover to experience your Loyalty Loop. They should know what it's like to be a customer who has to return something or who just bought something, or who went to a Guideshop.

Too many of us claim our service is unparalleled, that we offer a seamless experience, or run a business that really cares. But do we really? Is our service really unparalleled? Would our customers agree? And is our customer experience living up to our marketing hype?

If your marketing says that you’re providing a fun experience, and easy returns, you’d better make sure you are. And if you’re claiming your customer service staff are ninjas, you’d better be sure they live up to the name.

Oh and here’s a bonus tip for you: wait until your customers call you a ninja before you decide to call yourself one!

The missing $3million

So now it looks like the Bonobos Loyalty Loop experience is broken at pretty much every level. But does that mean they’re totally screwed? After all, fixing so many broken parts isn’t going to come cheap!

Well, here’s where I have some good news for Bonobos and Walmart; when I was browsing the site looking for ways to return my pants, I actually found a spare $3 million they could reinvest in their customer experience…

It seems that in January this year, Bonobos signed Justin Rose, pro-golfer as their spokesperson. Now, I’ve done the math and I estimate that they must have spent about $2.8 million on this deal. That’s nearly $3 million on a deal designed to bring in new customers — and that’s where lesson number 3 comes in:

3. Use the customers you have to acquire new customers

I’m betting Justin Rose has never had to return any of the clothes he got from Bonobos and I’m sure he had no idea what the shopping experience is like for the fans he’s sending to the Bonobos brand.

Now I assume that when his fans do shop there, they’re going to have a pretty similar experience to the one I’ve had — it seems likely — and they’re not going to come back for more. Nor are they going to spread the Bonobos message or recommend the brand to their friends.

So, Walmart, instead of investing $3 million in a sponsorship deal to get new customers, why not invest the cash in your Loyalty Loop experience to keep the customers you already have? It truly is the best way to acquire new customers and strengthen your brand’s message. No pro-golfers required. Sorry, Justin!

And there you have it: 3 posts. 9 ways for Walmart to turn things around. And a saving of $3 million to boot.

Don’t miss next week’s Loyalty Loop where we’re diving into the banking business — chi-ching! I’m going to take a look at how one massive brand can transform their Loyalty Loop experience, and what you can learn from their simple, little missteps.

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