One of my favorite stores has been Smythson.
If you don’t know Smythson it is a really great British stationary store. They sell these extremely opulent notebooks with leather covers and their special paper.
Recently, on a trip to NYC, I stopped in Smythson with my lady. She wanted to buy some stationary and I wanted to look at the notebooks.
I passed on a notebook, mainly because I still have a fresh one, but my lady decided that she wanted some notecards.
Which is all fine and good.
Except for the customer service agent needs to go to the back and get them for us.
I won’t go into a long explanation of what happened, but needless to say, when we returned to DC, Kathryn opened up the package to find that they gave her the wrong box of stationary. Instead of stationary, it was wedding invitations.
While in the grand scheme of life, this is a little thing.
But it goes to show you that customer service begins on the front lines. Because now the bubble of mystique has been punctured.
Now Smythson isn’t the place I go to because I need a notebook that represents a certain vision of my brand.
Instead, Smythson is a place where they screwed up my lady’s order in a very ham handed way, by not simply checking the box when it was removed from inventory and asking if this is the correct item.
Again, small things.
But when you are selling a certain mystique, you have to work extremely hard to keep it.
This lesson can really apply to every industry as well. You can British Airways. You can be the New York Yankees. You can be Budweiser.
Once you break the promise of your brand once, the slide has begun. And, typically, once you start sliding, it doesn’t stop for a long time.