A number of years ago now the first private brand products with 100% satisfaction guarantee hit the shelves. If you’re not happy, you get a full refund or replacement product. This has now become the norm and in a recent S4RB survey (Q1, 2016) 100% of the retail private brands surveyed in the UK offered a 100% ‘quality promise’, whether this be refund, replacement or even in some cases a replacement and your money back.
In a similar survey of 80 North American private brands, 92% also carried some form of no quibble money-back guarantee. It’s no surprise that this figure is close to the UK’s, given how many nations look to the UK as the spiritual home of retail private brands.
In the UK, The Consumer Rights Act (updated in Oct 2015) enshrines the right to money back if goods are faulty, but not so for complaints such as “this pasta sauce tastes bland” which is subjective, a matter of opinion. This is why, for so many of the private brands, the promise relates to quality with a commitment to refund or replace if ‘you are not entirely satisfied’ or if the product ‘falls below the high standard you expect’.
What is behind these guarantees is a commitment from the retail private brands that, in short, offer ‘complete satisfaction or your money back’. A desire for ultimate confidence in and satisfaction with the private brand. But all these years since first launched and with the guarantee such common place (100% of brands surveyed in the UK and 92% of those surveyed in North America) it is no longer a point of difference; it is expected.
Therefore, when consumers call to complain, we believe that the ideal customer experience needs more than a “Sorry, here is your refund”. The refund or replacement solves the particular problem but does not fix the ‘experience’. The consumer still had the dissatisfaction of a product that (in their eyes) failed to deliver, and then the inconvenience of the complaint process.
And the customer will still often tell their friend of their disappointment. According to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs the news of bad customer service reaches more than twice as many ears as praise for a good service experience.
This realisation was the inspiration behind our UBX LINK™. With thousands of products from hundreds of private brand suppliers across dozens of categories, it is no surprise that the call centre agent can do little more than collect the facts and honour the no quibble guarantee. This fixes the problem but it does not fix the experience. It does not make the customer more likely to buy that product again.
According to Lee Resources: 80% of companies say they deliver "superior" customer service, whereas only 8% of people think these same companies deliver "superior" customer service.
Now contrast the following scenario:
The customer complains that the product is bland and receives their refund. Complaint volumes (CPMU) are not materially on the increase, so the issue doesn’t surface to the product manager. However, with UBX LINK™, the complaint is escalated to the private brand supplier. The supplier doesn’t just receive a charge-back for the refunds, but can see all of the incidents including the verbatim feedback. They use this to inform recommendations to evolve the product. What’s more, when the revised product is in development, these same consumers are offered a free sample of the product for feedback.
It may not need to be so extreme. To simply follow up with the customer and thank them for their feedback is still extremely valuable.
Either way, the supplier can work with the retail private brand team to provide products that consumers want. Use complaints not simply as incidents to be closed, but as one more way to listen to customers. Call centres, social media and returns are all channels to listen into for insights which can inform EPD and NPD.
Furthermore, the customer receives a different level of experience and now feels valued, resulting in increased empathy and loyalty to the brand.
When retailers are fighting as hard as ever for market share, this is all food for thought when (according to an American Express) three in five people (59%) would try a new brand or company hoping for a better service experience.