Freewaters: A Story of Simply Outrageous Service
For the most part, customer service sucks. And what’s worse is that we’ve been trainied to accept the medicority. Some might say that is a skeptical view. But, chew on these stats:
- Only 37% of brands received good or excellent customer experience index scores. 64% of brands got a rating of “OK,” “poor,” or “very poor” from their customers. (Source: Forrester Customer Experience Index 2012)
- Poor customer experiences result in an estimated $83 Billion loss by US enterprises each year. (Source: Parature Customer Service Blog)
- 89% of consumers began doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience. (Source: Right Now Customer Experience Impact Report 2011)
The state of customer service is so bad, that when you actually do have a positive service experience, I think it’s important to shout it from the rooftops. So, I’m going to share a recent story about the footware brand Freewaters.
My wife bought me a pair of these shoes about a week ago. She actually got them at Whole Foods (who knew you could buy shoes at Whole Foods?). Freewaters is a relatively new brand that donates a portion of every shoe sale to provide clean drinking water to third world countries. It’s a very noble cause. I love seeing companies like Freewaters and Toms prove that you can have a successful business while making a positive impact on the world.
So, I love the Freewaters shoes. They’re really comforable and look good with shorts or jeans. But, after about a week, I noticed that a stitch had come out. Not a huge deal but a bit annoying. It was really just a cosmetic issue and didn’t impact the wearability of the shoe.
Nevertheless, I checked out the Freewaters website to see if there was any kind of return or repair policy. On the site, they state that they have a “Limited Lifetime Warranty” on their shoes. You just have to send them an email with your problem and they’ll get back to you. So, I took a picture of the stitching that had come out and emailed it to Freewaters. It was Sunday around 4pm when I sent the email.
About 90 minutes later, I got a personal email from the CEO of Freewaters, John Vance. It said:
We will be sending out a new pair to you this week. Thanks for sharing this with us as it will help us continue our efforts in raising the quality of our product once again. Glad to hear you like our product and thanks for the support!
A personal note from the CEO of the company on a Sunday? Now that’s impressive. What a way to differentiate your company. Plus, he was just going to send me a brand new pair of shoes. I didn’t even need to return the ones that I had!
I sent John a note back telling him how impressed I was with Freewaters’ high level of customer service. Whether you’re working with a large or small company, it’s incredibly rare that a CEO emails you back about a customer service issue. After receiving my email, John sent me this reply. I think it’s worth sharing:
The exec team here at Freewaters is absolutely committed to what we feel is the lost art of customer satisfaction. We may live in a fast food world, but we think we can do better than fast food customer satisfaction. It’s such a simple concept but one that seems to have been forgotten. Hence our “Limited Lifetime Warranty” policy. Ever wonder why Nordstrom became so successful? It wasn’t because they offered unique or different product. It wasn’t because they sold their product at rock bottom prices. It was because of service. Plain and simple.
Well said John.
My experience with Freewaters is a great lesson for any business:
Don’t just meet the low expectations that people have for your customer service, always strive to wildly exceed those expectations.
That’s exactly what Freewaters did, and that’s why they’ve earned a customer for life.