The Worst (And Best) Jewellers In The World. A Tale Of Two Rings and a Lesson In Customer Service

Getting married comes with a huge number of expenses, most of which aren’t necessary, they’re ‘nice-to-haves’. The thing about over-priced luxuries is that suddenly customer service plays an even bigger part in the customer journey. I once heard that a third of BMW’s marketing was to prevent post-purchase dissonance and to encourage word-of-mouth marketing; they’re spending cash making sure that people are proud of their purchase. I can well believe it. 

I’ve spent thousands on all types of wedding things over the past months running up to the wedding and the biggest factor as to whether I’ve enjoyed the purchase is the after-care. A friend of mine bought a Porsche last year; the biggest thing he talked about was the customer experience, not the car. 

With wedding purchases, the first one is the venue. We’ve chosen a beautiful venue and I’m sure the day will go well and be run beautifully. The organisation of the planning and communication with them, however, is a shambles. I can’t wait to get married at the location in question, but, I hate that I’ve spent so much money with a venue that is such a pain in the arse. If they’d have made spending that money a pleasure, I’d have been their biggest advocate. As it’s been so difficult throughout, no matter how beautiful the place and how wonderful the day, I won’t recommend them. Simple processes and a decent system would have made it all a pleasure. There is a lesson here, focus on your customer experience and enjoy the benefit of an excellent referral rate and up-sales wherever possible. Provide an average experience and you’ll end up on page one of Google for all the wrong reasons. 

The best example of customer service differential within our wedding experience was in the purchase of our wedding rings. Compare these two vendors:

1 – Wharton Goldsmith (Independent Jeweller, St Albans)

We walked in and were seen to quickly and courteously. There was a wait to see the expert in wedding rings, but that was filled by a lovely attendant who got out racks of rings for us to start looking at. I found a ring that I liked and asked for some changes, when the jeweller arrived. The jeweller asks intelligent questions and we ended up placing an order. The jeweller also explained, as we were going for something custom, that if we didn’t like the ring, we wouldn’t have to take it. 
I found out while purchasing that I had been dealing with the owner, which explains the knowledge and passion for jewellery and custom jewellery design. But, what was great was the fact that the courtesy and customer orientated ethos seemed to flow through his staff also. 
Once the ring was ordered, they contacted my beautiful fiancée and asked what she’d like engraved inside. I later went to pick up the ring, which is awesome; it fits perfectly and looks great. The ring was ready way before they suggested it would be and the collection experience was personal, polite and brilliant. To top that off, days after collection, without asking or being told, I received a valuation certificate through the post, beautifully printed in a lovely folder. 
I can’t wait to recommend them and I’m off to spend more money with them tomorrow. Why? Because the customer service, even more than the product, meant I enjoyed it. 
Contrast that with …

2 – Kingshill Jewellers (Terrible jewellers, St Albans)

We walked in to this incredibly pretty shop to be met by an attendant who seemed to know little about rings. She was pleasant and eventually brought over the lady who apparently specialised in wedding bands. My fiancée tried on a bunch of rings and elected a plain ring that sat well next to her engagement ring. I paid in full and we left. 
I was contacted a week later asking what I’d like engraved on the ring (I’d said I’d like something engraved when purchasing). It was a Friday and I was told that they needed to know urgently before the ring went to be engraved. I scrambled, wondering why they couldn’t have told me this deadline when I bought it, and made a decision. The decision was made even tougher as I was told I was limited to 15 characters. Even to a proficient tweeter, that’s tough. 
A week later, after I’d scrambled for a message, I received a call. “Hi Luke, do you want the engraving to go all the way around as we think it will only really take up a third of the ring. Also, you wanted. Script font, but your fiancée chose a 2mm band and we don’t think it will be very legible. You can have Helvetica instead.”  
They’d panicked me a week earlier asking me to come up with a 15 character message immediately, a week later they hadn’t even started engraving. I also found out that I could have had 45 characters without a problem.
I elected to be brave and chance the script font, I also asked for a message on the inside and that was to be in Helvetica. I was told that would be an extra £50 which I agreed to. 
I went to pick up the ring a couple of weeks later. The script was perfectly legible, which was useful as they’d made a spelling mistake. Also, they’d used the script font rather than Helvetica on the inside. 
In business when mistakes are made, they should be viewed as the biggest opportunity to win a customer over. Shit happens in life and people know that. If you can solve problems quickly with a smile on your face and apologise for mistakes, you’ll win your customers over. 
First of all, I said, “look don’t worry about the wrong font on the inside as I don’t want you guys to have to get the ring re-cast, just correct the spelling mistake.” Nice and easy as they’d just left off the last letter (when I say ‘just left off’, I’m being kind … An engraver only really has to get one thing right). 
I explained in the shop that now we needed a quick turn around as our wedding was coming in days. I was told that Friday was the earliest. I also explained that I didn’t expect to pay the extra £50 for engraving as both pieces of engraving had mistakes and I’d just wasted more than £30 in fuel coming into the shop to point out the problems. I was told that the lady would need to talk to the Director. 
I then received an email saying I would be expected to pay £30 and that they would waive all the normal charges for requested changes; the only change was of course the inner engraving for which they were trying to charge me. I pointed out that I’d saved them more than that in not requesting the ring was re-cast and spent more than that in fuel due to their mistakes. I then got an email letting me know that the charges would be waived, but the tone was that of them doing me a favour. 
I picked up the ring today, spelling mistake corrected, but, the ring didn’t even fit my fiancée. After my previous experience of their handling of mistakes I have no intention of asking them to correct it, I’ll be returning it tomorrow morning and asking for a full refund. I’ll then be waking across the road with a smile on my face, looking forward to purchasing a ring from Wharton Goldsmiths.

So What Can We Learn?

  1. Tiny investments in customer service go a very long way
  2. Mistakes are the best way to polarise a customer, they’ll become a huge advocate or a vocal disgruntled purchaser (bad news travels 7 times further)
  3. After sales care will make people talk about you even after the purchase is over 
  4. Especially with luxuries, you have to earn every penny the customer and the money you’re demanding

Earned Plug For Fantastic Jeweller In St Albans – Wharton Goldsmith

The large title text about the Independent St Albans Jeweller called Wharton Goldsmith will resonate well with search engines, and they deserve it. 
========= Update 02 August ========
Today I went to return the ring to Kingshill Jewellers and was told that it was our fault that it didn’t fit. I let them know my lawyer would be in touch. 
I then walked across get road and spent three times as much in Wharton Goldsmith and enjoyed spending the money. 

Is An Idea Worth Pursuing?

You may have one ‘killer idea’ that’s going to take over the world, you might have lots. One of the most critical steps in the entrepreneurial journey is deciding which idea is the one to invest time and money into (and remember, time is money).

Here are the questions I ask myself about an idea or prospective investment, before I jump in.

Do I know anything about the industry / market I’m looking at?

It’s easy to spot perceived gaps in the market. The next question you must ask yourself is, ‘why hasn’t somebody else done this?’

The difficult truth is that your idea isn’t original; lots of people have had the same thought. You’re not the only genius in town and you’re probably not the most suited to exploit the gap either.

So, what’s the good news? You may be the most motivated. The above points are serious though. If you’re going to launch a business you need to very quickly become an expert in your field. You need to understand what has gone before you and failed, what has succeeded and most importantly, why?

If you’re not at least an expert-in-the-making on the industry/market you’re looking at, you’re not ready to dive in.

Are you solving a problem (that needs to be solved)?

Every time someone is purchasing your services/products they are actively making a decision to delay a holiday. That £5, £5,000 or £50,000 that you charged them, could otherwise have ended up cocktails on the beach while enjoying a massage.

People pay for an easy life, more money (services that turn £1 into £2), luxuries and essentials.

Which one do you fit into? What need are you solving? If it is not a need, it’s a luxury. If it’s a luxury, are you better than a beach holiday, mojito and massage?

If you’ve identified a need, who are your direct and indirect competitors and why is your solution better?

Try and sell it.

Create a presentation / flyer / one page website / etc and go and sell your product/service before it exists. If you can sell it, great. If you can’t, ask your audience why they won’t buy your product or service.

The greatest businesses are designed by their customers and arranged by their executive to be profitable.

Aim at money, not users

Seen the silicon valley companies gain huge investment and valuation without making a penny? Ignore them. These are by far and away the minority of funded and valued businesses. Businesses are about making money. Anything else is a hobby.

Will you enjoy the work?

Running a business is a tough, all-time and all-emotion consuming process. If you’re not going to enjoy it, do yourself a favour and don’t do it!

Does your idea stack up?

How much does it cost to make/deliver? How much will you deliver for? Are you in profit? How many people will buy? Therefore, how big will your profits be? What niches can you expand to after your original target?

Then … Cash-flow, cash-flow, cash-flow. You may be a billion dollar company in year five, but if you can’t pay your bills in month six, you’ll never get there.

The most common mistake when putting start-up spreadsheets together is not valuing the founders’ time. Remember, you won’t always be fulfilling that role, so what will be the cost of someone replacing you? That’s the sensible figure to project with, even if you anticipate paying yourself pittance in the beginning.

Lastly, it always costs twice as much as you expect.

After all the above … are you convinced?

If after all the above you’re convinced then you’ve crossed the chasm from excited and enthusiastic to informed and ready. One of the most frequent traits of entrepreneurs in their first few startups is that they continually kid themselves. They can be realistic and sensible about everything other than their own venture. Don’t be that person. Be your biggest champion as well as your biggest challenger.

Do you want this to be the biggest part of your life for the next two years?

If you’re reading this, you’re already smarter than most. You can do anything. Starting a business is a commitment that is deep and far reaching. Ask yourself truly, do you want this idea to be the biggest thing in your life for the coming two years? If the answer is ‘yes’, go for it!