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. 
Written by Luke