How to Retain Customers After a Service Failure: Minted Mints a New Fan in Spite of Late Delivery
My Christmas card order is late, but I'll order from Minted again in spite of it. Here's why:
We ordered custom cards for the first time this year, from Minted. We should’ve received them by December 14th. Unfortunately, production took longer than expected and we're still waiting for them at this writing. That's a service failure for a company that delivers date-driven products.
That’s not like missing the window for a heart transplant, but it’s serious in context of the product. The good news is, Minted treated it that way. Their response illustrates key points that made me decide to continue to do business with them:
Taking the Service Failure Seriously
Companies that deliver holiday and event-centric products like wedding invitations and Mother's Day cards are judged not just by the product itself, but by their ability to deliver that product by a specific date. The consequences of not doing so are serious – reliable delivery is considered part of the product. The takeaway here is – you’re being judged on factors beyond “the product.” Be sure you’re thinking like your customers to get this right.
Offering the Expected Remediation
Table-stakes in any service failure is to apologize and remedy the direct problem or compensate the customer. In the B2B tech world, that could be a sincere apology and a 20% refund on a software product if 20% of users couldn't access it for a time. Here it’s (free) expedited shipping and a sincere apology, which Minted delivers.
Going Beyond the Expected
Expected remediation will reduce the chances of someone trashing your company in reviews, but it likely won't help you keep them - especially if this is their first experience with you. To achieve this goal, go above and beyond the customer's expectations. Minted did so by refunding all shipping costs and giving us a 20% refund on our order.
Knowing Your Market Really, Really Well
Unless you have a thorough and empathetic understanding of the people who buy from you, the most generous remediation may strike a hollow note. Using my B2B example: if the software in question was used in mission-critical team collaborations, a 20% refund wouldn't be enough to retain the customer, because it wasn't just the 20% who couldn't access it who were impacted.
Minted offered four options to make things right, including sending the cards to a different address, since you might be visiting family by December 20th. The second was redesigning the Christmas cards as New Year cards. Brilliant and very market-centric.
Innovate on purpose to ensure your service failures are actually your finest hour. And – happy holidays, one and all.
About the Author
Diane Pierson is the Founder and Principal Market Strategist of Innovate on Purpose, a consultancy enabling successful product innovation for tech companies through strategic focus and powerful go-to-market strategies. Diane is also a visiting instructor at Pragmatic Institute. Contact Diane at firstname.lastname@example.org.