February 11, 2016
This is part of our occasional series called CX Stories, which are personal accounts by COPC Inc. employees about their own positive customer experience. This story is from Scott Flewelling, vice president, COPC Inc.
L.L. Bean and the Art of the Exceptional Customer Experience.
As many people know, L.L. Bean is a retailer in Maine that has been in business since 1912 and provides a 100% satisfaction guarantee. You can return anything for any reason at any time and they will replace the product or refund your money.
Over the last 30 years I have bought a number of items from L.L. Bean, both online and in the store, everything from dog beds, to clothing to fishing waders. I have spent thousands of dollars. In fact, I think I have spent more money with L.L. Bean than any other single retailer. In all that time I have only ever purchased one item that did not meet my expectations. I returned it after about five years and received a full refund.
This story is about a product that I was not planning to return or replace. I own a pair of their famous Bean Boots, and the soles were quite worn but the upper part of the boot was still good. I phoned into the call center to see if the boots could be repaired if I brought them to a store. (Yes, while L.L. Bean is mostly known for their catalog, they do have stores throughout the east coast of the United States.)
The call center confirmed they could repair the boots and gave me the cost. While on vacation in Maine this past summer, we made a trip to an L.L. Bean store, where I was directed to go to Customer Service with my worn boots to leave them to be repaired. The staff at the store was, of course, friendly and they completed all the necessary paperwork for my repair. They explained the time frames and costs, all of which were fine with me.
When it came time to complete the shipping label to return my repaired boots to me, they learned I was from Canada. Much to my surprise, although the company ships new products to Canada, shipping repaired products is not that easy due to customs and duty charges.
They asked if I could return to the store in a few weeks to pick them up, but that was not possible for me to do. Then they conferred amongst themselves and presented me with a brand new pair of boots – no charge!
I explained that I was not unhappy with my old boots and was willing to pay for the repair. However they insisted that I accept the new boots since they could not mail the repaired boots to me. I was amazed!
While I know some people take advantage of companies like L.L. Bean and return worn products for a free replacement, that was not my intent. I just wanted to repair my old boots. Having the staff insist I take a new pair as a replacement just solidified my loyalty to this great company that has been in business for over 100 years.
L.L. Bean went above and beyond to resolve my issue by offering me a new pair of boots. However, it was the entire interaction– from the moment I called the contact center, to the staff helping me with paperwork, to the on-the-spot resolution in the store—that made this experience exceptional.
We hear a lot lately that companies should empower their employees. This story is a great example of what happens when a company instills a genuine commitment to customer satisfaction and creates a culture for their employees to meet and exceed customer expectations, no matter what it takes.