Wednesday, 3 April 2013

she works hard for the money..

Social Media. Has society decided whether or not it's a good thing, yet? I noticed this morning that the BBC were reporting on it's usage being a deciding factor in establishing social class: I'm not sure which way this tips the balance, though.

Personally, I no longer use Facebook, I've never understood Tumblr, and my productivity levels thank me for never getting into Pinterest (I manage to spend enough time looking at pretty things anyway!). I never really got into Instagram (mainly because I tend to forget to eat, let alone take photos of my dinner!). Then again, I probably make up for all of this with my use of Twitter.

I spend quite a bit of my spare time tweeting. I have to admit, I rather like the fact there is always someone around to answer a question. And now that so many brands have cottoned on to the use of social media, surely that means they are around for answering questions from potential customers, too? With thoughts in mind about brand loyalty after reading Sarah's recent post, I thought I'd conduct a little experiment.

After a little browse online marking the end of the spending ban, I thought I would treat myself to a few dresses, and numbers 001 to 004 on this list were the ones I decided on. All around the same price mark, and all from brands I've shopped with happily in the past. Nevertheless, with discrepancies in sizing between items in the same store, let alone between stores, coupled with the fact that I don't really know what size I am, I do prefer to try things on and see them 'in the flesh' before buying. So, why not let the brands work a little bit for their money - it can't be too hard to check stock, or answer a simple question about a product, can it?

001: Monsoon Glasshouse Print Prom Dress, £89
 001: This dress is in the New Arrivals section of the website, and with a limited lunch break, I don't have the time to go and search for it. I asked if @monsoontweets could help me by telling me if this dress was in stock my local store. They replied the next morning with a list of phone numbers for their stores, suggesting I called my local one and asked, as they aren't able to check stock centrally.
Helpfulness: 5/10 They replied, but basically told me to find out for myself. I probably won't.
002: Phase Eight Carianne Print Dress, £99

002: After they sent a tweet mentioning this dress recently, I asked @Phase_Eight if they could tell me if my local store have it. As yet, no response, even after a second tweet. It's the most expensive dress on my list, but they don't seem to be bothered so I guess I'll take my money elsewhere. Helpfulness: 0/10
003: French Connection Spring Bloom Dress, £89

003: This dress is maybe my favourite on the list. Having seen it in store at the weekend, although only in the (pictured) straw colour and not the blue version I want, I tried to access the mobile site and it wasn't clear which of the colourways I needed for the blue dress. I tweeted @FCUK and @FC_Help to ask which one I needed, but got no response from either. Did I mention that I really wanted this dress, though? I called the helpline, and they totally made up for the lack of twitter response, order placed and is waiting for me in store. Helpfulness: 8/10 - twitter not good, but helpline great.

004: Laura Ashley Marine Print Dress, £88
004: Laura Ashley have always been a firm favourite brand of mine, as is clear from previous blog posts and about a sixth of my wardrobe, so I have to admit I was a little nervous about how they would fare (especially given that I'd say they are the trickiest website to navigate around, of the ones on my list). I wasn't disappointed though, I asked about the Marine dress and within 10 minutes @LauraAshleyUK had DM'd me to confirm my closest store, checked the stock and put the dress on hold for me to pick up tomorrow. Helpfulness: 10/10 - couldn't fault them, and happy to keep spending my money with them as I know the quality is always good.

005: Debenhams Debut Diamante Belted Pumps, £22.50
005: These shoes made it into the list because fellow blogger Kezzie has her heart set on them in a size 8, which is not in stock on the Debenhams website. I tweeted @Debenhams to ask which stores stocked a size 8 and after a few tweets asking which store I wanted to be checked, the twitter account managed to let me know one store which had a size 8 in stock, and told me they had put them on hold for 7 days. Which is quite helpful. (If I knew anyone who was near Taunton, anyway). Twitter helpfulness: 6/10 as it took a little work to get the stock check done nationally.

In conclusion, I'm picking up the French Connection and Laura Ashley dresses tomorrow, may have a look for the Monsoon one if I have time, and doubt I'll bother with the Phase Eight one as they weren't bothered with me. Is this the right attitude? When there are so many different brands out there, how do you decide where to spend your hard-earned cash?


  1. This is such an interesting experiment and a great read, awesome post Char! I think service is really important - it drives me mad when brands are unwilling to help. That translates to shops too, as customer service is even more important, I can't stand when you want to spend hard-earned money on something and the sales assistants are totally unwilling to help. Then again, that might be me being biased as I am an over-eager SA. *shrugs* I suppose the flip side is, though, that though social media is definitely becoming hugely important, maybe some brands are catching up slower than others.

    The French Connection dress is gorgeous though, can't wait to see it here! Oh, have you seen the daisy print dress they have in there? I want it so much but for £120 I'm thinking perhaps it's not in my budget! xxx

  2. I think it's totally the right attitude to be loyal to brands which treat their customers well.
    It sounds like Laura Ashley did an outstanding job to me!
    However although social media is taking over the planet and pretty much all brands have a big presence on there, I'm not sure how set up their "account tweeters" would be in order to be able to help, if you know what I mean? For example, some brands use well known bloggers from time to time to man their twitter and/or facebook accounts, and I'm not sure if they would know how to/ be able to check on stock.
    That said, it would have been polite in all cases to at least send a tweet saying so and direct you to someone who *could* help arther than just ignoring you, and perhaps this is the problem with not having trained customer services staff in charge of the accounts in the first place!
    Really enjoyed reading this, Char and am mightily jealous of the new dresses, absolutely stunning!


  3. This is really interesting, social media can be really helpful (as you have demonstrated!)

    Maria xxx

  4. Great experiment, it's a bit disappointing to see the response you got......or didn't get! I find customer service is so much better with smaller brands, they care about individual customers more xxx

  5. This is such a great post! Eye-opening too :)

  6. I agree, great experiment and fab post. That French Connection dress is to die for, but I'm pretty sure they stop at a size 16 which rules me out : (

    I emailed Debenhams regarding them sending me an incorrect MAC lipstick and what I should do. Someone on a makeup forum also got the incorrect shade (the one i wanted), so we swapped. Debenhams still never got back to me and this was at least a month ago. Had I still been wanting to return it (given it was THEIR mistake), I'd be too late now.

  7. Aha, what a cool experiment and I am honoured to be part of it!!! Eeek, now what do I do? If they are good, they will find a way for them to be able to send me the shoes in the post and I pay postage!!!x
    LOVE your dress choices!

  8. I love the phase eight frock! :-/ my local branch are always really helpful

  9. Hi there! I have been a fan of your blog and have only just realised that you have GFC! I followed you! Would love it if you could follow me back here on my blog:
    Thanks so much!

  10. Great post and makes a very valid point about the connection between brand helpfulness and brand loyalty.
    I have drastically reduced what I buy from companies that can't be bothered to reply or at least make some sort of effort.
    Recently I have had need to contact several companies and most have not only been very helpful, but lovely to deal with too. x

  11. This is such a brilliant idea for a post, so interesting to compare the service & a great way to decide where to spend your cash. Xx

  12. Customer service and general friendliness definitely makes a big difference to me when it comes to shopping - I can't buy everything I like the look of and service levels go a lot way to helping make those decisions!

  13. Interesting--I'm also definitely more likely to buy if the customer service is good. I love the classic cuts of all those dresses, though!!

    Emma ( )

  14. How did I miss this post?! Brilliant.

  15. Great post!!! Very informative and really does show what a difference social media can make to a business x