This may initially appear to be a tale of a customer experience gone array; it is in fact, a perfect illustration of a disappointing customer experience successfully converted into extreme customer engagement. It is the epitome of how a simple customer service interaction can create customer loyalty.
Customer disappointment is an unfortunate reality for most brands. Products go on backorder, flights get delayed, hotels oversell, and shipments get lost. Customer disappointment happens.
Disappointment is often worse when you have an expensive product and you set expectations high. Personal case in point: the widely sought-after and presently difficult to obtain Peloton bike. Why so sought after? “The Peloton Bike delivers live and on-demand indoor cycling classes to your home, while allowing competition and video chat with friends,” proclaims their website.
Doesn’t that sound awesome? Doesn’t that sound exactly like something a cycling obsessed, fitness fanatical; working-from-home girl would love?
Say It; I Say It True
Yes, I will someday love the bike. You see, my husband purchased the bike for me last October as a preorder Christmas present; the bike has still not yet arrived.
Don’t get me wrong, we knew the bike wasn’t going to get delivered until early 2014. Our exact date was a little fuzzy, but we’d been told that shipping would occur for us the week of January 27th. Nonetheless, I was getting eager, and according to Facebook, I was not alone. Peloton kept assuring customers that the bikes were on schedule, so we remained faithful.
And since we could voyeuristically watch bikes get delivered to happy fans through postings on social media, we again had no reason to doubt the date. You say it; I say it true.
Let’s face it; we had bought into the experience! The Peloton bike is not a nominal purchase, but we like so many had bought into the company, bought into the brand, and bought into the experience!
You can then imagine our disappointment when we received an email on January 28th from John Foley, the Peloton CEO, “The demand for the Peloton bike has been through the roof. We are incredibly humbled by this interest and are working hard to increase our production capacity to meet the better than expected demand. Please know that we absolutely want to get your bike to you as soon as possible.”
This was followed by a revised timeline which set our new delivery schedule out another 30 days. The email also said we’d be given a free month of online classes for our patience. That’s all fine and good, but here’s where I took a little pause.
I doubt the Peloton staff woke up that day and realized they wouldn’t be able to ship this segment of bikes out on time. I’m going to harbor the notion that they knew the delay was inevitable. I’m also pretty confident that they waited until the last possible moment to send out the notification in order to keep people from cancelling.
The Road to Customer Engagement
After some consideration we sent an email to customer support. My husband was dismayed that his Christmas gift may have backfired, and I was disappointed that my experience may never happen. Honestly, I did not expect a response.
Here’s where the bend in the road is visible and the tale takes a turn.
We did not get a canned response. We did not get a stock apology. We received the exemplification of customer service perfection. Peloton delivered a personalized, caring, thoughtful, and purposeful customer response. I was floored.
Within the concise response, Ryan from Peloton managed to make us genuinely appreciate the dilemma they were in with the backorders. He also reconfirmed our delivery, offered up appropriate compensation, built loyalty, and won us completely over. In that single email, we shifted from wanting the experience, to wanting to be engaged with the brand. “It truly is an exciting time to be a Peloton customer,” Ryan promised me in a follow-up email.
From Disappointment to Redemption; From Experience to Engagement
I told you this was a success story!
Our conversations with Peloton have continued – both through email and on social media. As a brand, they are recognizing the importance of their community and the need to engage personally with them at multiple levels. As a company, they have become more proactive with notifications and with updates. Just last night we received the welcome request for our final payment so that our bike could be shipped.
And perhaps it’s just me, but I’ve noticed a shift in their marketing and their online presence. Rather than just promoting their product, Peloton is engaging prospects and owners. They are inviting their audience to become part of the experience; to become part of the community. This is extreme engagement.
It truly is an exciting time to be a Peloton customer.