There are two ways to address the value of a customer: how much money they’ll spend right here, right now, and how much money they’ll spend over the course of their life. Many companies become too focused on the former, trying to maximize and save every penny they can, that they in turn jeopardize the potential of their customers’ lifetime value. I have two personal experiences that demonstrate these perfectly.
A couple of years ago, I had ordered a shirt from company (I won’t disclose their name but let’s just say it’s a popular shirt company many designers use) for the girl I was dating at the time. Our anniversary was coming up, there was a shirt on their site that I knew she’d like and so I ordered it. Pretty simple. However, shortly after ordering the shirt, I realized that I had made a mistake with the shipping address. I had recently moved at the time, and so I some how managed to combine both of my addresses into one. When I reached out to the company about having the address changed, they said there was nothing they could do.
Luckily, the address I managed to smash together didn’t actually exist so I knew the package wasn’t going to accidentally get delivered to someone else. With that being said, I figured I could probably intercept the package at the post office some how. To make things even more complicated, the zip code didn’t actually correspond to the accidental address. So I went back and forth between the midtown and downtown post office three or four times trying to determine who the hell had the package. Whilst being sent back and forth between offices, I received a notice that the package had been sent back to the original sender.
So I reached back out to the shirt company and told them that the shirt was sent back their way. Considering I didn’t receive the shirt, I asked if they could send me another one. They said “Yes,” and I replied ”Wonderful!” But it actually wasn’t that simple. I was told they had to wait until they received the shirt back, and then I would have to pay an additional $4 for shipping. I just wanted the shirt so I looked at is as “Oh, it’s just $4” but Zach (my brother) brought up a good point: Why couldn’t they look at it this way?
While I recognized my mistake in the order and was willing to pay the price for it, I can’t help but wonder how different my experience would have been had they said “Don’t worry about the shipping, another shirt is on the way.” What was originally going to take about 2 weeks to get a shirt turned into 4 or 5 weeks, and I was so stressed out just trying to this darn shirt. While it wasn’t a good experience, it wasn’t necessarily a bad experience either, but I also haven’t order anything else from them.
The whole reason I’m bringing up that story is because it felt like a missed opportunity. This isn’t to say that I in anyway felt entitled to having them cover the shipping cost, but time is of the essence of and it’s the little things that matter when it comes to a customer’s lifetime value. Here’s another example of someone “going out of their way” and focusing on the bigger picture:
Just the other day, the type foundry Coppers and Brasses released Ilisarniq which is a multi-script type family. On their homepage, they had an SVG for the new release, but the type was defaulting to Times New Roman. An SVG is basically a tiny web-page, and so if you forget to outline the time, it’ll default to Times New Roman for anyone that doesn’t have that font installed. Considering they likely have their own font installed, it’d be hard for them to know anything was wrong. This has happened to me numerous times before so I took a screenshot and sent it to them. Not only did they say thanks, but they gave me a custom coupon code for $50. I was by no means expecting anything like that nor was I intending on buying any typefaces at the moment, but I’d be lying if I said I’m not contemplating buying a $200 family now.
I had for the most part forgotten about the shirt company situation until I was reminded of it again after the very kind offer Coppers and Brasses extended. I can’t help but feel like such an “entitled millennial” when it comes to the shirt story, but really that whole situation was such a pain in the ass. Which is more expensive, covering the $4 shipping cost or placing the burden of tracking down the package on the customer, making them wait an additional 2–3 weeks, paying for the shipping themselves, and in turn having a sub-par experience? On the flip side, Coppers and Brasses went out their way to thank me, and since I’m genuinely a fan of their work I’ll not only be buying some of their fonts but will now actively promote their work. If you sell products of any kind, always remember that the little things matter. When you invest in the lifetime value of your customers, you gain their trust and loyalty.