Apr 24, 2013 - Experiences, Public Relations    Comments Off

The Experience-How Customer Service is Crucial for Brand Development

By Mary L. Burns

This weekend, my mother and I hopped in the Camry to head to Shreveport, LA. Through research, I stumbled on a bridal boutique significantly called “Happily Ever After” Bridal Boutique in Pierremont Mall. I had shopped locally and exhausted my resources. My dreams of supporting local business and finding the gown of my dreams (a lacy vintage vision) for a fraction of the price I saw on “Say Yes to the Dress” were depleted.

So, the website for this Shreveport business claimed to offer bridal gowns significantly less than most retail stores. The owner, Dionne, purchases sample gowns from boutiques with overstock or boutiques closing their doors. Needless to say, I was curious and encouraged my mother to make the drive.

We found the boutique tucked away in an eccentrically enticing mall in an area of Shreveport reminiscent of The Heights in Little Rock or Fayetteville, AR. Beautiful older homes and manicured scenery raised my anticipation and expectation levels to new heights.

When we walked in the stylish boutique, we were greeted and immediately handed over to the owner, Dionne. After only a few minutes of combing the racks, Dionne shares that she thinks there may be a gown or two fitting my description in the attic of the store and excuses herself to go on a search. This excites me as I continue to look through the tulle, satin and lace.

It wasn’t too long before Dionne returned with a giddy expression and ushered me into the spacious bridal dressing room telling me she was so excited about the gowns she had found fitting my vintage vision. As I saw all the gowns in their plastic hanging in the dressing room, I immediately caught her excitement.

Every dress I tried on seemed to build in beauty. Although there were favorites, they each   were stunning in their own right. As we ended the appointment, a looming decision was on the horizon. Dionne did not pressure, but sensed we needed to walk away to discuss our options.

Mom had a prior engagement she needed to get back to and both of us knew we didn’t want to make another trip or travel any further. I was ready to mark the dress shopping off my list and make a decision. However, the cost of the gowns that were contenders were around the same price point as those I had tried on locally. The price tags were circling over my head like vultures and the stress was mounting.

After a quick six inch Subway sandwich break and some discussion, Mom and I returned to the boutique to choose a gown. Dionne was happy to see us return. With regret, she shared how another customer had tried on my gown shortly after we left the store. During their stint in the dress, the center rhinestone came loose and fell to the floor. Dionne attached the stone to the dresses’ tag and we finished our transaction. She bundled the dress in a fancy white garment bag and we were on our way.

The rest of the evening progressed. Of course I wanted to try on the gown for my dad. When my mother and I pulled the beautiful gown out of the bag we began noticing a few things, and they weren’t just the lace and the bling. It so happened my dress had some blemishes and I was disheartened.

The next day, my mother and I discussed how I felt about the condition of the dress; whether I was satisfied or if I wished I had made another choice. We agreed that the shopping day we chose may not have been the best,  but it felt like it was too late.

I knew the cost of the dress for its condition was bugging me. In my eyes, the gown itself appeared more valuable than even its original retail price-tag. However, with the wear and tear of a sample gown, I didn’t feel satisfied as a bride.

So, I emailed Dionne. I could tell by the way she treated her customers that she strived for professional excellence. I wanted her to know what happened and if she could help us in any way.

Within a few hours, I received a very apologetic and sympathetic voice mail from Dionne. I called her shortly after arriving home from work. She expressed how important it was for her to stand behind her gowns and their quality and she worked with us, sharing her deepest apologies. All seemed right again. A burden was lifted.

I’ve experienced poor customer service and fortunately, I’ve received great customer service. Then, there are those special instances that stick out in your mind. The stores, the waiters/waitresses or the customer service reps on the phone that seem to exceed your expectations.

Like the waitress at Johnny Carino’s whose bubbly personality made our dining experience special.

Or the Apple CS reps who, although could not unlock my identity to give me my Apple ID, expressed their deepest empathy and really worked with me and my predicament. Or, the sweet girl at Taco Bell who always has a smile on her face. It’s the “My Pleasures” at Chick Fil A and the “Most Amazing Personal Service” at Chico’s.

As I continue my studies in Public Relations through Full Sail, I realize how important quality customer service is to positive brand development. Happily Ever After received my Facebook like, a Facebook status update, a blog post and maybe before it’s all said and done, a few Tweets. Positive input = Positive Output and for a local bridal boutique in Louisiana, positive customer service fits the name behind the brand well.

This bride got her “Happily Ever After.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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