Nike’s Customer Service Nailed it, in my books

Since my last blog post, a lot has happened and changed. Some for the good, some for the bad, and some that’s simply meant to be.

I’ve done a lot of traveling, eating and formed a lot of memories along the way. My plan is to consolidate everything and then share it here it in this space, so keep posted!

One of the first things I’d like to share is related to great customer service, which is fitting because I wrote about something similar in my previous post, but talking about poor customer service! If you haven’t read it, you can review it here: Poor Customer Service. This experience isn’t related to food nor travel, but in the consumer products space. The hospitality and travel sector can surely consider adapting in their own way.

A full story explaining the situation is needed, so the story begins…

I had purchased my first pair of Nike Roshe FlyKnit Sneakers a few months ago and it’s been my ‘go to’ footwear whenever I traveled. They are the most comfortable pair of sneakers – hands down. I was enroute to New York from Hong Kong earlier this month and of course, my Nike Roshe FlyKnits came with me. Once I settled on the plane, I soon realised my beloved sneakers had a small hole in it – I hadn’t even started my trip! Plus, I had only worn it maximum 5 times prior – how can it break on me so soon?! I knew the same pair were already sold out in Hong Kong a day after I bought them, so I was confident I was unable to buy a new pair there. I knew there was a Niketown in New York City, the plan was to head over once I landed before I did anything else…well, of course checking in and freshening up first!

The hole was really small. For the purpose of illustration, I have circled where the hole was.
The hole was really small. For the purpose of illustration, I have circled where the hole was.

I eagerly ventured to the women’s level on second of the 57th Street Nike flagship hoping a pair was waiting for me. I scanned all available sneakers on offer and voila, the exact same pair was displaying! When the sales associate handed me a new pair of the exact sneakers, I couldn’t be happier. I quickly slipped it on and placed the old pair in the shoe box. Even though it was more expensive than Hong Kong, I had no hesitation and went straight to the cashier.

I explained to the cashier my situation highlighting that I’m wearing the new pair and that I don’t need the old pair anymore. She then paused for a few seconds, perhaps comprehending the situation, and then said “Let me save you some money” and started to proceed with typing in the cash register. At that moment, I thought she was going to give me a discount, which I’ll gladly take. By the end of her bar code scanning and typing, she simply handed me a receipt and bide me farewell.

I was taken aback, still not realising what had just happened until I walked away from the cashier. She did a direct exchange of my old pair to the new pair, so no monetary exchange was needed. When I finally comprehended what just happened, I had an OMG moment. I now had a pair of new Nike Roshe Flyknits compliments of NIke! I really couldn’t believe it. What great customer service! She didn’t ask for my old receipt, no additional questions, except she asked for my ID, which I left at the hotel and proceeded as an exception on not needing to review any legal identification. Nike saved me US$120 – I was ecstatic!

Yes, these look exactly the same as my old pair, but in my mind, it has a special meaning!
Yes, these look exactly the same as my old pair, but in my mind, it has a special meaning!

This “Surprise and Delight” effort is actually a marketing strategy many companies have been implementing and perfecting to increase brand loyalty. This recent article in Advertising Age stresses not only this concept but are taking it to the next level – incorporating technology and social media into the experience, as in the case with MasterCard.  Perhaps the bigger brands can execute more elaborate “Surprise and Delight” efforts, however, in my opinion, it is not trickled down to their regional outlets. I find that it usually occurs more frequent in the US, compared to Asia. If the same thing happened in Hong Kong, for example, I highly doubt I would walk away with a discount, let alone a free pair of Nike shoes!

Nonetheless, this personal experience with Nike definitely enforced my loyalty to them. Nike has often been my brand of choice for sportswear, but had not fully committed to the brand until my recent experience in New York.  Now, it is Nike all the way, nothing else. They have converted me to committing to them!

In a way, the hospitality and travel industry does its own version of “Surprise and Delight” efforts, but in my experience, it hasn’t been as impactful as my personal experience with Nike. Comparing to large hospitality and travel brands, the industry’s version would be a complimentary hotel or seat upgrade, but I feel the impact isn’t as big, maybe because I travel often and have built it into my expectations? I feel you only get something for free if the experience went wrong, so there’s no “Surprise” nor “Delight”.

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