High Quality Eyewear In Just About .... a Month?
This could seem like a rant, but it is in the service of a larger point.
On July 26, Mattie and I went to our nearby LensCrafters on a mission: New glasses before she starts her senior year of high school. Seems fair, right? Her prescription hadn’t changed, just a new fashion statement required to tempt her into actually wearing them.
I think first of LensCrafters because I used to do a fair amount of work with them: High Quality Eyewear in Just About an Hour. Indelibly etched. “Why send your glasses to a far-away lab, when we make them right here, right now, right in front of you.” Perhaps you don’t remember the positioning with as much clarity as I, but it’s in there. A generation of advertising, augmented by a forced march of mall by mall, market by market expansion. Begun by an ex-P&G guy, Dean Butler: A man with a plan and a vision. “No no signs” was another of his mantras. A fabulous and welcoming retail experience – sure you can use our restrooms; of course, go ahead and enjoy that ice cream cone; what a cute puppy! – that shook up the industry and remade it, in slightly more than an hour, but wicked fast for sure.
We even helped create their “Give the Gift of Sight” program, which morphed into the One Sight Foundation. A big, beautiful non-profit arm doing great work.
Let’s just say with the sale of LensCrafters to another firm and then again to yet another, the days of the far away lab are back.
One month after placing our order and exchanging $675 for a bright yellow receipt and the promise of new glasses in seven to 10 days, we still didn’t have her glasses. We did have a wide variety of stories, however: “It’s business days, not calendar days.” “The lab said said they’d shipped.” “The lab said the frame was discontinued so they couldn’t make them.” “We’ll know for sure tomorrow at noon.” My personal favorite: “They should be here by now.” Indeed, If I’d been confident there was another, better game in town, I would have decamped the first-time Kendra offered to refund our money with her sincere apologies (about two weeks in.) “They should be here. I don’t know what happened.” We went on vacation. To Greece. And came back. “I’m so sorry. I don’t know what to say. They should have been here by now. I was sure they would be here by now.”
On and on in the petty pace from day to day to the last syllable of recorded conversation. Finally, I got the number of the customer service person in the home office. She, too, was wildly embarrassed, but, miracle of miracles, she got through to the far away lab (Atlanta) and two days later a flabbergasted Kendra was breathlessly telling me the glasses had really and truly arrived: A full month from when we’d ordered. But hey!
Deconstructing what happened, of course, isn’t simple, but it seems that the petite bullies in the far away lab did not believe they had to respond to a lowly floor person in the store on 83rd Street. So, they flubbed around and made up excuses and left poor, earnest, but ineffective Kendra to promise to call by noon and then decide to skip it. Once Leslie, in customer service, called the regional manager, the molecules began to shift. My phone began to ring: The regional manager. The store manager. And, at long last, blissfully, Kendra, with the news.
Dean Butler: I imagine you in an affluent gated community on a gorgeous, well-manicured course. You are in the clubhouse bar, regaling neighbors with stories of your keenly considered beginnings. I just hope you don’t need glasses anytime soon. Indeed, I hope none of us needs anything approximating empowered customer service from any retailer.