Earlier this year, with Mother's Day falling closer than normal to my Mum's birthday I decided to risk potential offence and treat the other woman in my life to a fitness tracking device. I'd been given a similar device myself and was (and still am) very pleased with the product, so I decided this particular brand would be my first port of call.
I browsed the website, compared products, and was impressed by the modern layout as well as the community available to users to help encourage people like my dear Mother to keep up their latest attack on the waistline. Having spent a little time deciding, I settled on a device that I thought would be ideal for her. Just the right amount of information to keep her motivated but not demoralised - dare I say confused? - in an attractive design which she would continue to wear. I added the device to my basket, hit checkout and proceeded to punch in the required details.
Imagine my surprise when a message was displayed saying my address was incorrect! My house is a fairly new build, and we have had occasional problems with deliveries so I persevered. The layout for typing the address was a little more complex than usual, so perhaps I had done something wrong. Again, and again I got the same message, only continuing to try as it was now a matter of professional interest - my passion for customer experience fuelling my frustration, I just could not believe how difficult it was for me to purchase my gift!
So finally, having exhausted all possible combinations and permutations of both mine and my parent's address, I decided I would call the number displayed to continue this customer journey. After navigating the IVR and finally getting to speak to someone, I was amazed that a company offering a modern "digital" suite of products needed to physically talk me through how to enter my address into their unusual format in order for me to complete my purchase. Even more unbelievable, the agent informed me that they were aware that this was an issue, and yet they hadn’t done anything about it.
At this point, I should mention that this particular brand has become almost synonymous with fitness tracking products, with some outstanding accolades and awards, not to mention a page of positive mentions from some of the leading fitness magazines on their website. It is, however, going through some difficult times in a market being swamped with smart devices, able to deliver not only the exercise tracking features but also utilise other applications that will undoubtedly become a normal part of our lives as the wearable market grows. As the launch of their own "smart watch" approaches, some experts are suggesting that this product could prove to be make or break for the brand.
Which makes it even more amazing that my purchase was so difficult. By creating a pitfall at such a simple part of their customer journey, not only could they have lost my business entirely, they had created additional and unnecessary bad demand for their contact centre to deal with, not to mention a dent in their image as a forward-thinking, “cool”, digital brand.
In an industry where these devices are expected to change the way we go about our daily lives, enabling our health service to proactively contact high-risk patients, or use information from wearables to assist in diagnosis of an illness, where their competitors are enabling voice and even AI to deliver additional functionality, it seems this fitness brand is falling at the first hurdle…