Photo: Jon Schlossberg on Quora
Bonobos, an online store for men’s apparel, saw its website go down during the holiday season—Cyber Monday, in fact. That’s an online retailer’s worst-case scenario, but somehow, Bonobos managed to douse most of the flames with a creative error page.
Why were people calmed by something as simple as that?
Bonobos VP of customer experience John Rote talked about what happened during his presentation at the Small Business Summit 2012 in Manhattan today.
It showed that “[Bonobos doesn’t] really think the way other brands do,” says Rote. “It gave the customers an opportunity to smile.”
The folks at Bonobos knew that they had screwed up, accepted responsibility for it and assured customers that they would receive the same discount no matter what—all right up front. That goes a long way with customers, and they’ll be more understanding if they know they’re not being strung along.
And, Bonobos wasn’t afraid of making fun of itself. A self-deprecating sense of humour can go a long way during a crisis. For instance, when the American Red Cross messed up with a rogue tweet, it made fun of itself, and people identified with that. After all, everyone makes mistakes.
“This ended up getting us a lot of PR during the holidays,” says Rote. “And it ended up being a huge win even though the site was down for a while.”
It also helped that Bonobos was transparent about its problem. Product design lead Jon Schlossberg posted on Quora a lengthy explanation of its “epic fail.” While that likely didn’t reach most customers, it was a great gesture from the brand.
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