Is a superior product enough to build customer satisfaction, or is it important to take a more holistic approach to your customers and their experience?

For those of you who read my earlier blog on my search for a ‘no-crease’ cotton business shirt, you may be interested to know what happened next… I think it will surprise you!

I take up the story seeking to find more shirts like the amazing Abelard one I discovered recently. My first option was to browse the Abelard website. Why pay a mark-up for something when I can buy it online? I knew my size, and I had already found the style I wanted. Easy right? Wrong! I wasn’t even able to find the shirt I had already purchased on the site, let alone more of the same.

Unperturbed I took the shirt in question back to the retail store where I found it, and asked for ‘more of the same’. Despite being the only customer in the store, the sales assistant was distracted throughout and did very little ‘assisting’. Here I was, a guaranteed customer who knew what I wanted, and still I couldn’t get even the most basic service. I also soon discovered the assistant didn’t know what it was about my beloved shirt that made it so. He couldn’t tell me if the other Abelard stock was the same. Reverting to ‘trial and error’ I tried on four shirts in my size, but I was out of luck.

My last resort was to go to a larger department store that stocked Abelard, and try my luck there. With 3 days left in a storewide sale there was an uncharacteristically large number of staff in the business shirt section. Despite this, none of them said a word to me as I trawled through looking for my size. Again I found four possibilities, but when I asked to try them on, I was told they were ‘all the same’ and that they ‘didn’t like unpacking the shirts’ as it took so long to get them back into their packaging.

I insisted and finally one young woman agreed to ‘unpack’ them for me so I could try them on. I promised I’d buy any that fit and were the right style. No one followed me to the change rooms, nor did they ask me how I went. Despite this I soon realised I’d found not one, but two of my beloved shirts. Ironically they were also discounted, a happy coincidence.

Reflecting on the whole experience I am flabbergasted. Abelard have the best product in the market (IMHO) and yet between their website, and two retail outlets, they couldn’t help me find it. I had to do it myself, and even then I had to overcome ignorant, disinterested sales assistants, and department store staff who were more concerned about the packaging.  Talk about making it hard for me to be a customer!

I wonder if Abelard have any idea how much their sales channels are letting their great product down? Are your sales channels reinforcing or destroying your great product experience?