Sunday, 9 August 2009

Customer Service Demands: Next

From: chris*@*.com
To: (Via website contact form)
Date: February 2nd, 2009

Dear Sir/Madam,

Last Saturday I was enjoying a pleasant perusal of your homeware department when I was confronted with a product the purpose of which I could not for the life of me ascertain. When I came to compose this email I checked your website - perhaps in the hope that I had imagined the product - and discovered it in a section labelled "Kitchen Essentials". The product is displayed alongside numerous others, all in the same category. I have taken the liberty of listing some here:

1. Mugs - yes, they're certainly "kitchen essentials". I like to drink tea from mine. But never tap water! That's what glasses are for.

2. Knife block - handy for storage and juggling, certainly essential

3. Mug tree - most necessary - without one your mugs will fall victim to mug weevils

4. Cream ceramic decorative cook letters - umm..?

I hope you begin to see my point. The other items can all be categorised - crockery, utensils etc... but - "decorative letters"? That isn't a "type" of "thing". You may as well sell "denim horses" or "submarine shoes", they make as much sense. You even go as far as to say they're wipe clean only - as if someone might be tempted to eat their dinner off a massive ceramic 'O' and then be upset when they can't put it in the dishwasher. Surely they'll be more concerned about their trousers?

Ultimately I suppose what I'd like to know is how on earth the idea to sell decorative letters came about in the first place. I can only imagine at the most recent board meeting the head of marketing said something like "well I've noticed we aren't getting any of the decorative letters market, so I propose we gain 100% by INVENTING IT".

Can you make enquiries please? I am most perplexed.

Many thanks,


From: Customer Service Management Team
To: chris*@*.com
Date: February 5th 2009

Our Ref: CRN/007955-09/CPI

Dear Mr Russell,

Thank you for your recent email enquiry about this seasons ‘decorative cook letters’.

I am sorry that these have been the cause of bewilderment and confusion to you whilst perusing our Homeware Department. Certainly, this would not be our intention.

I can confirm that decorative letters are not a new concept in terms of marketing and have been used over many seasons by Next.

We carefully consider and plan our ranges many seasons ahead and study current trends and moods to reflect the products that we offer our customers.

Based on our findings during previous sales of these products, decorative letters are a very popular range and have featured over our Home and Christmas ranges, with great success. We have therefore, taken the opportunity to offer the letters in the Kitchenware section and current response from our customers has been very promising.

To also help to explain, in categorising our products each item must fall into one of our product codes, for the purpose of ordering, storage and distribution. Additionally, for marketing reasons each item must feature in the area most appropriate for its purpose. On this occasion, the ‘decorative cook letters’ are intended to be placed somewhere in a kitchen.

Whilst I would agree with you that these are not essentials, they have on this occasion been placed with other ceramic products which may fall into such a category.

We appreciate the fact that you have taken the time to contact us and I do hope that I have been able to answer your query.

Yours sincerely,

Claire Pickering

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