Hanging By a Thread

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A few weeks ago I embarked on my bi-annual clothing shopping spree. 

This event is usually heralded by a hole appearing in one of my shirts or a sudden realisation that I’m cold all the time, signalling the need to dive back into the world of e-commerce and bulk buy enough stuff to get me through to the clock change.

Back in 2017 I wrote about how this annual event showed me the importance of trusting your customers. Whilst many retailers wait for the clothes to arrive back at base before sending the refund on its way, Amazon gets the money back into your account the instant their delivery driver has picked up and scanned the package. 

Back then I also wrote how one company – Thread – had annoyed me by unnecessarily blaming the delay on the banks. And I found out a few weeks ago that, four years later, they’re still doing the same thing. 

This definitely falls into the category of ‘things I really shouldn’t be getting that bothered about’. But if Amazon can refund me instantly, and I can send thousands of pounds to the other side of the world in minutes, then surely Thread could, if they really wanted to, do the same?

So, clearly running out of interesting opinions to share, I went back onto Twitter to repeat my rant from a few years before. 

Except this time, the response was brilliant.

First, the Thread team replied:

That was good enough for me. They’d listened to what I had to say and responded quickly, proving the theory that most of the time, unhappy customers just want to be heard and have someone acknowledge and understand their issue. 

However, before I had the chance to share my delight with my three active social media followers, my phone buzzed again. 

This time, it was a much more personal reply from Kieran O’Neill, the Thread CEO:

Now of course, it’s not realistic for the CEO to step in every time a customer is unhappy about something, and nor should they do. It wouldn’t be a particularly efficient way for a business to run.

However, on the occasions where it happens spontaneously – rather than because you’ve searched CEOemail.com – it does give a great feeling. 

More than that, it suggests that the people at the top of the organisation actually care about what customers think, and the experience they receive. Particularly when, in this instance, it wasn’t a big issue and had already been dealt with. 

As Swiss Rail demonstrated back in those hedonistic days when we were allowed to cross borders, handling customer problems brilliantly comes down to three things: Own it, explain it, resolve it. 

Thread did this perfectly.

They owned the issue. No overly defensive reply or blaming it on someone else. Instead, an honest acknowledgement that it wasn’t the best way to put their message across.

They explained the problem. It’s true that the banking system isn’t perfect and it does still take a few days for the money to appear, so it’s easy to understand how the idea appeared to fit in with the brand’s down-to-earth tone of voice. 

Then, they’ve said they’re going to solve the problem. They’ve taken the feedback on board and are looking for a slightly more positive way to speak to their customers. 

Of course, I’ll need to wait until my next panicked clothes purchase to see if Thread actually do change their tune, but thanks to how they handled this issue, they’ve kept themselves at the top of my consideration list for when that time comes. 

Watch this space…

Thanks for reading this article, I really hope you enjoyed it. You can subscribe to my monthly newsletter below, and find me in tweet form @johnjsills, in picture form on Instagram @CX_Stories, or in work mode at The Foundation

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