My cookware broke but what happened next surprised and delighted me

Originally published on the Bytemark blog

Five years ago, I purchased a £250 set of Circulon cookware that comes with a “lifetime guarantee”:

After a few years of use, the non-stick surface began to degrade severely. Against the manufacturer’s preference, I’d been using it in the dishwasher and I’d lost the receipt, so I was unconvinced that Circulon would honour their guarantee.

Nonetheless, I sent their (quiet) Twitter account a disappointed tweet.

I received a reply the next morning: after a short conversation, their Twitter team quickly arranged for their customer service to be in touch with me to take more details by email. Within three weeks, I received a completely new set of pans!

This is great and I’m very happy. Yet this isn’t a promotional post about pans – there’s a lot we can learn from this:

1. Show empathy with customers’ problems

Apart from the cookware itself, this was my first interaction with Circulon’s manufacturer and it was the start of a great customer experience.

I was disappointed when I sent Circulon my tweet. I didn’t consider who would be responding to my tweet, if anyone.

To their credit, the person behind the Twitter account kept the response polite and showed empathy with my dissatisfaction. They clearly understood I was disappointed and wanted to restore my confidence in their product.

2. Aim to answer customers through the channel they choose

We often receive enquiries or support requests through Twitter, which falls outside our usual defined way of receiving requests.

As a customer, I’ll always pick the method of contact that’s most convenient for me – firing off a tweet for something that isn’t worth a call or an email.

3. Don’t make the customer repeat themselves if you need to switch channels

Twitter isn’t always an ideal channel to help resolve a customer issue, particularly with regards to customer’s account security. Sometimes we need to move to different channels, such as email or phone. If so, keeping the context of the request makes the switch a smoother experience

Circulon made sure that when I was emailed by customer services they were already informed about my experience to date and simply required details that I couldn’t share over Twitter.

4. Keep our promises

The most important part of the story was that Circulon kept their promise. They honoured the lifetime guarantee of the pans and I wasn’t required to show proof of purchase nor return the original set. During product development, the manufacturer clearly put thought into how they’d fulfil the promise of a lifetime guarantee.

This is something that we pride ourselves on too. We do it by making sure we promise the right thing to our customers when they ask us to help.

Sometimes that also means saying no: we can’t always offer what a customer needs at the price point they require, especially as we only quote from list prices.

We do confidently stand behind what we provide to customers and our support team are independently empowered to solve things confidently – we try to avoid bouncing up a chain of command where possible.

A ‘lifetime guarantee’ of great customer experience

When I bought a set of fancy Circulon pans with a lifetime guarantee of replacement, I also bought the promise of new pans if things went wrong with the old set.

Circulon fulfilled that promise and delivered a great customer experience at the same time. They know their brand is reliant as much on the style as the delivery: when things go wrong, it’s how well you respond that keeps customers happy and even encourages referrals. I’m happy to continue recommending them and I’ve even learned some lessons along the way!

What brands have delighted you when you’ve encountered a problem? Let me know in the comments!