Shep Hyken\'s Customer Service Blog

Guest Blog: Deconstructing A Textbook Customer Service Email Exchange – My Allbirds Experience

This week we feature an article by David Martin who shares an Amazing customer service experience he had with Allbirds shoe company. – Shep Hyken

Congeniality, proactive problem-solving, and a genuine follow up made me an Allbirds fan. Here’s how Adrianna turned my purchasing gaffe into a textbook customer service experience.

So here’s the problem:

If you’re a regular traveler, then you know how hard it is to find good shoes for a trip. You can’t take your whole closet, so what you do take has to serve a multitude of purposes.

My wife and I, when traveling by air, subscribe to a strict carry-on policy: Everything we take — no matter the trip duration or location — has to fit in our respective carry-ons. No checked baggage. Ever. So, as you can imagine, the number of shoes we can lug along with us is fairly small. Usually, we take only the ones we wear as we travel, plus a single extra pair packed into our suitcases.

Now, cutscene to me staring at my shoe collection shaking my head:

We were gearing up for our trip to Barcelona last fall and I stood there looking at all my shoes, thoroughly underwhelmed with my options. What I needed was a pair that could get me through the airport, sustain a sizable bulk of my daily walking through the city (Barcelona is best explored by foot), and be more stylish than my beloved, yet slightly unhip, sneakers.

My pile of shoes was a small mountain of “nopes.”

Then I remembered a friend of mine telling me about Allbirds, what he described as the best shoes he’d ever bought. “No really, man,” he’d said, “they feel like clouds on your feet. But, like, supportive clouds.”

At the time, Allbirds had just two product offerings — their Wool Runners, which are styled as laced-up tennis shoes, and their Wool Loungers, which are slip-ons with foam soles. After reading a handful of reviews I decided on the Runners.

I placed my order on September 19th and promptly received an order confirmation response saying they’d let me know as soon as the shoes were en route to my home. A couple days later, September 21st, I sent an email to their customer service team asking when runners would ship since my wife and I were due to fly to Spain on September 30th.

That’s when I got an email from Adrianna.

Apparently, the shoes I’d selected were on backorder, a fact I’d completely missed while pinging around the Allbirds site. After apologizing for the mishap (though it was clearly my fault), Adrianna proceeded with the best email management of a customer service dilemma. Here’s how she started:

We are expecting to fulfill this order by early next week, but I don’t want to cut it too close! The rumors are true, they’re pretty much awesome for travel. We have a couple options here, though!

She immediately positioned herself as my advocate, and we were going to solve this problem together as a team. By taking this approach, I immediately felt comfortable and that I had someone working with my best interest in mind. Not only that, we had options…plural. This wasn’t going to be a zero-sum scenario. I was going to have multiple ways to win.

First, we can certainly cancel the order and issue a full refund ASAP. However, if you wanted to keep the order as-is and risk that they [not] come before the 30th, I’d be happy to add on some complimentary expedited shipping so when these come back in stock they will be shipped out faster.

I liked that she presented the cancellation as the first option. From there, the options would likely only get better. And even the canceled order wasn’t a total loss because, if I chose it, she was ready to make that happen immediately so I could get on with my own contingency plan.

Then she put the ball in my court with the helpful assistance of “complimentary expedited shipping.” Again, I cannot reiterate the point enough that this was all my fault. I’m the doofus that overlooked the backorder status of the shoes I wanted. Yet here she was, willing to cover the cost of speedy shipping to get me the shoes I’d picked.

As for the third option:

If you’d prefer to cancel and purchase another color instead, please feel free to pay for the expedited shipping and we’ll waive the additional cost. Simply write back with the new order number after you’ve made the purchase and we can send you an instant refund. Personally, I think this may be the best option to ensure you have some Allbirds for your trip to Spain!

Please let me know how you’d like to proceed and I’ll make it happen! I hope this helps, David.

Talk about team spirit here. She was still willing to cover the expedited shipping costs while also offering her “personal” thoughts about the best way I could get the Allbirds before my trip to Spain — and it all reads like she is excited for me and my trip.

Amazing. Which is what I told her I thought about the level of her service when I emailed her back to tell her I’d decided to switch my order to the Wool Loungers since they were in stock.

            We aim to please 🙂

Awesome! Done, and done. I canceled and refunded the original order, and refunded the expedited shipping on your new order. Hopefully, you received two emails confirming both of those!

Let me know how you like the Wool Loungers when they arrive! And please let us know if we can assist you in any other way.

¡Que tengas un viaje fantastico España!

What a nice touch there at the end.

And sure enough, my Allbirds arrived with days to spare before my wife and I headed to Europe. As for the shoes themselves? Well, just as my friend had told me, they were (and still are) incredible.

I’ve long believed that the best chances to build brand fans are when things go awry and a business has the chance to don the Superman cape for the customer. This experience is a perfect example of such a scenario.

Not only was I happy with the shoes that landed on my doorstep, but my entire perspective of the company is framed by that series of email exchanges I had with Adrianna back in late-September. And what, exactly, is my perspective of Allbirds? They are a company that (1) truly cares about their customers (2) who happen to make the best shoes for travel on the market.

Oh, and speaking of travel, I’ll definitely be taking my Allbirds with me on our upcoming trip to England.

Wait, what’s that? They have more styles to choose from? Well, it looks like I’ll be adding to my collection before that trip.

David Martin is the founder of Heed PR, a public relations agency headquartered in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

For more articles from Shep Hyken and his guest contributors go to customerserviceblog.com.

Read Shep’s latest Forbes Articles: Amazon: The Most Convenient Store On The Planet

 

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