I recently moved house and needed to have my mail redirected. The Royal Mail has an awesome service that automatically redirects your mail to a new location for just a small fee. It’s great as it means no worrying about important mail not getting to you on time or having to find the time to go and pick up mail at your old house. Best of all there is an easy online application form eeszy peezy simple stuff and it works brilliantly. Well done Royal Mail for delivering a great customer experience.

But there is more to this story…

When I was filling in my online application to have my mail redirected, the Royal Mail kindly offered to send me a house warming gift – a pack of “yummy and useful goodies” delivered to my new address to help make the move a little easier. Not necessary to be honest but a nice touch I thought so I ticked the box. A few days later my house warming gift arrived at my new home. There was a rough knock at the door, I opened it and had a box practically thrown at me by the postman, he grunted loudly at me (it was closer to a growl) and stormed off. Startled by the abruptness of his behaviour I closed the door and went inside wondering what would be in my goody pack, it was a big box and pretty heavy. Excitedly I opened it, loosely arranged inside the box were:

– six cans of Fanta mixed fruits flavour
– box of 10 tea bags (the box had been completely squashed and deformed by the heavier fantas)
– A bottle of long life milk
– 3 flyers promoting companies that had nothing to do with Royal Mail

My excitement began to deflate. The presentation of the gift pack was awful, the box was too big for the contents, which made it look like there was less in it. The weight had clearly been the Fantas and the long life milk. The Fantas, a flavour I’d never heard of were the most vile I’d ever tasted. To be honest I’m sure it was up their with the cough medicine my mother used to force feed me! I began wondering if the company supplying these gift packs for the Royal Mail had picked up a discontinued flavour for next to nothing and was now subjecting new home movers with this sickly sweet dishwashing tasting liquid that glows in the dark! Where was my favourite Fanta orange? The remaining drinks went straight down the drain. Next I took out the very sad looking squashed tea bags that had clearly lost the brawl they had been having with the Fantas and the bottle of long life milk as they slid around the box.

I couldn’t help wonder why the Royal Mail was even bothering with this pack. On the face of it this is a nice marketing idea but the execution and delivery is damaging the the overall experience. This is a shame because I was very happy with the redirection service I was already getting. The gift offered to strengthen this relationship and my emotional connection with the brand but actually did the very opposite. Here are a few things I would change:
– The postman should be able to recognise that the pack is a house warming gift. It would have been a very pleasant experience if the postman had handed me the gift, wished me all the best as I settled into my new home, as opposed to throwing the pack at me and storming off.
– Rethink the items in the pack. I didn’t need a litre of longlife milk or six Fantas which are heavy and take up a lot of space. I think most people would be perfectly happy with some tea bags, a half pint of UHT milk and a few nice biscuits. This would reduce the size and weight of the package and I’m sure also save the Royal Mail money.

My biggest gripe with the gift pack is that it seemed to me as if very little thought had been put into its contents, and this diminished the experience because it made me feel as if the Royal Mail was trying to create the impression that they care, when in reality the contents show that they don’t.

Companies need to recognise that they can’t just jump onto the “creating an emotional connection with customers bandwagon” if they are not in a position to deliver. Emotional connections are powerful, if you can’t get them right it is best not to try in the first place and rather to just stick to the knitting and focus delivering an effective and efficient product.

I don’t want to knock the Royal Mail, to be honest I think they are a great company. What I do want to do is give a hard time to all of those marketing customer experience initiatives which sound like a nice idea, but fail dismally when executed because of lack of thought, attention to detail and a commitment across the company to building emotional connections with customers. This is one instance where an already very happy customer was offered a nice gesture, raising my emotional expectations and then the service experience actually diminished the overall brand relationship. A real pity because it could so easily have gone the other way, I wanted it to.

TomorrowToday Global