Case: Tile – Marketing and Ops should talk
I’ve been a big fan and one of the early customers of The Tile, also like their marketing. This startup has solved the second most obvious problem causing bad vibrations at home – “Where is my phone/keys/wallet?”. (The most obvious one is pairing your socks after laundry. ;-))
It was now a time to reTile, ie. order new ones to replace existing Tiles that are running out of battery. The marketing department did a great job – reminded me that I’m running out of battery, offered a good price for the second generation of The Tile and even told that shipping to Finland works now and when ordering to a certain date I would get them shipped before Xmas in Finland!
Such a great idea! Order now, get your own Tiles replaced and buy some more for Xmas present! And there’s gonna be even some gift pouches in the shipment! Awesome!
And so I did order replacement Tiles + some extras.
I placed the order on Dec 15th 2:06AM (PST), which is way earlier than the deadline of Dec 16th 12PM (PST). This was only 20 minutes after I received this offer.
I received the order confirmation telling me to wait for the shipping details. I thought that this was ok, since there was plenty of time to ship the goods.
Few days later, exactly on the 21st, I started to think about my Xmas present. Almost time for the festivities, and no shipping details or tracking number. Decided to contact customer support, which replied very fast through various channels.
Customer support was very friendly, and they ensured that if I have placed my order in time, I should receive my goods by Xmas. Also, I was told there is no tracking numbers because they’ve been so busy and some of the products were sold out. And the goods were shipped without tracking number to make the delivery faster. And the good news was that the package is shipped from within EU, which means there was still hope to get the package in time.
So, my tiles did not arrive by Xmas. They arrived today, Monday 28th. And looking at various shipping details, it seems that the courier service was booked in the Netherlands on 22nd at 11pm, which already meant that there is no way to get the goods delivered in time for Xmas, since courier services were not delivering anything in Finland on the 24th.
Key marketing issues with this case
Overpromising. Do not run push marketing message that converts into sales in 20 minutes and can’t be delivered as promised. Yes, you should have known.
Marketing not understanding business. If you are running out of stock, stop converting to sales with arguments that you can’t deliver. Instead, think how you handle and communicate to those who already placed an order to keep them happy.
Not communicating problems. If you can’t deliver your promise, communicate it proactively. When customers start communicating with you about the delay, keeping them happy is much more difficult than if you told them about the problem and how it will be solved.
Customer service not having the tools to help. Customer service needs some other tools than copy-paste message saying that “sorry but yes they should be arriving – we are working on it but have no details” – which is not really helping the customer. If you don’t know, promise to get back to them (and do so) or give them details about the real situation.
Promising the impossible. If customer service tells you two business days before the promised date that 4 day delivery will happen 2 days (impossible) and there is no tracking code (not possible with any courier, they all have tracking for express), you are promising the impossible. Any customer who understands the system knows you are lying or will find out eventually.
Why am I writing this?
It’s great to have new startups with innovative products and services that are making the world a better place. Many of them get their competitive advantage by disrupting the non-functional processes of the old world. But it doesn’t give them any rights to provide considerably worse customer service than the old world does.
I personally became a big fan of The Tile over an year ago, and I have been using the company as an example when talking about startup business, and while coaching and mentoring new startups and founders.
Suddenly, it seems The Tile is becoming another case for me. This time this will be a story about marketing, logistics, customer service and execution.
Let’s see how this ends.