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Small Inconsistencies Lead to Big Omni-Channel Issues

BY Dan Berthiaume

An acquaintance recently had an experience at Starbucks that shows the negative impact that not providing a seamless omni-channel customer experience can produce. The fact that Starbucks generally offers a superior customer experience and is a leader in omni-channel commerce and promotions demonstrates that no retailer is immune to slipping up in this crucial aspect of the holistic customer service offering.

How many calories in that iced tea at the counter?
My acquaintance, who carefully watches the nutritional value of the food and beverages she consumes, was surprised to see that the menu board of a Starbucks store said iced tea contained 60 calories. She asked the barista why this was the case, since tea leaves have no calories. He shrugged his shoulders and said he did not know.

Concerned, she checked the Starbucks site on her Android smartphone, which listed the iced tea beverage in question as having no calories. Not sure which answer was correct, and wondering if all this time as a regular consumer of unsweetened iced tea beverages at Starbucks she had in fact been consuming unknown calories, she called Starbucks customer service. A helpful customer service representative was able to get the correct answer, which was that the beverage contained 60 calories if it contained sweetening syrup but no calories if unsweetened.

Starbucks’ loss is Dunkin’s gain
Unfortunately for Starbucks, she made the call from the parking lot and at that point was already behind on some other errands so she decided to leave and purchase an unsweetened iced tea from a Dunkin’ Donuts drive-through window down the street. And while she still plans to return to Starbucks in the future, not all consumers are so forgiving of this type of inconvenience.

Sweat the small stuff
The root of this problem is a lack of consistent information across different sales channels. The store provided different product information than the mobile site, and the customer had to engage the call center channel to sort things out. As a result a sale was lost and the customer engaged in negative brand evangelization.

However, even assuming that the nutritional information provided in the store matched that provided online, there is still the problem of the store associate not having ready access to product data. It is unreasonable to ask a barista to memorize the different calorie counts of every permutation of every Starbucks beverage, but it is reasonable to provide baristas with ready digital access to a product database so they can directly assist customers with questions about the items being sold.

Furthermore, a mechanism should have been in place to allow the call center representative to offer my acquaintance some type of instant incentive, such as a texted 25% discount on iced tea good for that day, to help reclaim the sale that wound up going to Dunkin’ Donuts.

Again, the purpose of this column is not to excoriate Starbucks, a retailer that generally does an excellent job of driving customer loyalty across all channels, but to remind retailers that something as simple as an inconsistent or incorrect product detail within a broader omni-channel experience can cost a sale and maybe much more. Omni-channel retailing is inherently a “big picture” undertaking; just make sure you don’t overlook the small nuances that comprise the big picture.


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Sears continues transformation into member-centric company

BY CSA STAFF

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — Sears continues focusing on its Shop Your Way loyalty program, following second quarter results for the period ended Aug. 3. Members can increase their reward points by linking up to three eligible Visa credit and debit cards to their accounts.

Members can use their linked cards at any number of Reward Partner merchants, such as Burger King, Popeyes, Louisiana Kitchen, Picture People, Public Storage and 1-800-Flowers.com.

"As students and parents head back to school, they are looking for extra savings and more ways to earn rewards," Sears Holdings EVP and president for marketing, online, pricing and financial services Imran Jooma said. "Shop Your Way Link allows our members to earn points on everyday purchases made with popular restaurants, retailers and service providers, and enjoy a more personalized and rewarding shopping experience with Sears and Kmart."

Sears Holdings has also enlisted singers Adam Levine and Nicki Minaj to offer exclusive messages, photos and videos — as well as insider tips and entertainment and lifestyle news — on ShopYourWay.com.

Cards not eligible for the program include prepaid Visa Buxx, Flexible Spending Account Visa cards, Eletronic Benefits Transfer Visa cards, gift cards and others that are not processed through the Visa U.S.A. payment system.

The move comes shortly after Sears Holding reported second quarter results for the period ended Aug. 3, which Sears Holdings chairman and CEO Eddie Lampert was disappointed in. While revenues and comparable store sales did slip, Lampert did acknowledge the progress the company has made in its transformation to a member-centric company. Shop Your Way members represented more than 65% of the company’s sales and they redeemed rewards points at a significantly higher rate than last year.

The increase in Shop Your Way promotional activity and member redemptions resulted in a meaningful increase in the company’s costs which offset results; however, the company points out that members are deepening their engagement with the program which will facilitate it to further accelerate its transformation.

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Kellogg’s enlists Taye Diggs to help promote childhood literacy

BY CSA STAFF

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — Kellogg’s has teamed up with Scholastic as well as actor and children’s book author Taye Diggs to promote childhood literacy and the importance of having books in the home.

In a public service announcement, Diggs explains how U.S. families can help give kids great starts with great stories by placing 200,000 books into home libraries, schools and local communities.

"This is such an important cause for me, especially as a dad — since I know the impact that reading can have on young minds," said Diggs. "Not every child has access to books at home. It’s devastating. But Kellogg’s and Scholastic are offering fun, easy ways we can help get books in the hands of kids."

Families can support Kellogg’s and Scholastic’s efforts to place 200,000 books in homes and schools across the country. There are two ways to help:

Collect Kellogg’s Great Starts Great Stories codes from participating Kellogg’s products to receive a free book or "gift" a book to a school in need through nonprofit literacy organization Books for Kids. Go to www.KelloggsFreeBook.com to learn more.

Visit www.Scholastic.com/MiniMissions to participate in Frosted Mini-Wheats Mini Missions and earn two free books monthly while supplies last, as well as enter a sweepstakes for the chance to win Scholastic books and grants for local schools and communities.

Parents are encouraged to share the public service announcement video with their friends and family via social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

The Kellogg Company’s portfolio of brands includes Kellogg’s, Keebler, Special K, Pringles, Frosted Flakes, Pop-Tarts, Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies, Kashi, Cheez-It, Eggo, Coco Pops and Mini-Wheats.

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