Are you being served…?

By now most people have seen the John Lewis advert. Channelling Fyfe Dangerfield’s cover of an old Billy Joel song, and costing £6million, the ad was watched an incredible 100,000 times the first week it was available on YouTube. And for those cynics who think it’s just sentimental snake oil, think again…JohnLewis.com has seen a 39.7% leap in sales in the short time this ad has aired on UK screens.

A catchy tune and evocative story-line had us hooked from the first second, but what distinguishes this piece of creative genius from just another 90 second soap opera in the intermission between Celebrity Come Dine with Me and I ate my Teenage Sweetheart, is that it authentically represents the brand.  On a very deep level, what you see is really what you get.  A lifelong commitment to customer service.  Retail devotion. Walk into any John Lewis store – you might not want to marry the man behind the till, but you will feel the love, I promise you.

In our current climate of austerity, commitment and service matter more than ever. Still you’d be forgiven for thinking that some retailers were still practicing stone age customer techniques, should you be brave enough to shop on the high street. Which is why I am particularly impressed by Boden.  An on-line clothing retailer, their colourful style and irreverent voice has built a loyal fan-base. And for good reason.  They’ve worked hard on delighting their customers in every way. Last week, I ordered a dress for a special occasion.  It didn’t fit so I exchanged it for one that didn’t make it to my new address because of a computer glitch.  I rang Boden, who said they would fix the problem. So far, so good. But no guarantee of a dress.  The special occasion was looming, and the dress wasn’t going to fly itself to the US.  A few hours after the conversation, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a second call from the customer services manager – apologising and personally guaranteeing that my dress would arrive in the post the following day.  It did!  Now that’s retail worth marrying.