Recently I purchased eye glasses from a company whose target audience is clearly Millennial. Their stores are a mecca of a good-looking young people in Converse sneakers, eager to find the trendiest frames at a reasonable price. Polarized, scratch-free lenses come with every purchase, so there’s no haggling with a sales person over add-ons. And for every pair of glasses sold, a pair of glasses is donated to a person in need. The marketing is brilliant for a vastly successful startup that capitalized on the fact that buying glasses in the United States had become like negotiating a new car down from MSRP. I admire the company, the idea, and, most of all, the retro John Lennon style frames I was getting at a discount.
The tone of the marketing materials is perfectly matched to the audience and vision, as is the tone of the employees. “No worries!” is the most popular phrase in the building, and associates are trained in the casual—smart casual wear and smart casual language. It all works. Except when it doesn’t.
In my case, I was given a date to pick up the glasses in 10 days from the time my order was placed. Unfortunately, a comedy of errors was to follow. When I arrived, a bearded young manager with suspenders and a bowtie told me, “No worries! The shipment is a little late and they’ll be here tomorrow. We’ll text you.”
When tomorrow never seemed to come, I visited again. The same manager’s response was, “I think they’re lost in the mail. But no worries! We’ll track the shipment.”
When the shipment never seemed to be tracked, my last resort was to write a professional claim letter to the corporate office, explaining the situation. I appreciated that a real person was assigned to my problem, but there was one problem: the casual tone that worked so well in marketing the glasses and the company didn’t work at all in responding to the complaint.
Each of my representative’s responses to my formal claim began this way: “No worries, Kim!” Because my own postal tracking suggested that my glasses had been delivered, repeatedly, to an uninhabited address far across town, they were, as a result, bouncing around from one local postage facility to the next. Perhaps my representative was experiencing “no worries,” but I was. Waiting for four weeks for delivery, having lost my former glasses, straining to drive, and seeing no end in sight (no pun intended) to this problem was worrisome for me. Further, the casual tone of the adjustment did not at all match the formal tone of my claim. I’d called her ‘Ms.’ for instance, yet she called me by my first name. She was clearly matching her tone to that of her training, but not mindful of creating a response that was matched to the most important information that I had offered: my formal claim was not suggesting that I was a part of the target audience she had been trained to respond to. At one point, I let her know that I had tried to help rectify the situation by visiting numerous postal facilities where the glasses had been routed and found out myself that they were likely on route back to the original store. I received a one-line response. You guessed it: “No worries at all, Kim!” At this point, the implication was that she was assuring me my significant efforts to retrieve my glasses, at my own expense, eliminating the need for a new set of glasses to be shipped, was not offending her, and I should not worry that it was.
It may not have been necessary for the representative to change her tone from casual to formal, but there is, in fact, other casual phrasing in a repertoire for pleasing a hip millennial crowd, a phrase that I hear often when I do something to rectify a situation, such as driving around without glasses to acquire my glasses. It goes like this: “We appreciate you.”
Though I clearly did not exactly fit into the target audience of this eyeglass company, my thought is that training of representatives should include the mindfulness and sensitivity to retain any customer, especially one who demonstrates enthusiasm matching my own.