It may be Joe Biden’s stationary bike of choice, but Peloton is currently a poster child for under delivering, with buyers expressing strong frustration about long waits to get their bikes delivered.
Notes the New York Times in a January 17, 2021 article: “Peloton’s Rapid Rise Is Threatened by Its Slow Delivery…The company has boomed in popularity during the pandemic but getting its exercise bikes delivered has proved a struggle, one that is angering new customers…Peloton’s relentlessly positive Instagram posts usually attract enthusiastic responses from its 1.2 million followers, who love the company’s charismatic instructors and its $1,900-plus bikes and treadmills.”
The article continues, “But recently the company’s account has become a beacon for outrage about delayed deliveries and hours spent with customer service representatives. ‘I know a good Peloton goal…deliver my mom’s bike that was supposed to be here December 21st!’ snapped one person in response to a post about New Year’s goals. ‘I could be close to 900 rides oh but that’s right I don’t have my bike!’ another replied to a post about a user’s 900th ride.”
Business Insider reported on January 19: “Peloton is still experiencing issues delivering orders of new bikes and treadmills, and outraged customers are turning to social media to lodge frustrated complaints.”
A January 25 Forbes article adds: “Many Peloton customers are exhausted – not by their workouts on the company’s exercise bikes, but by the seemingly endless wait for the fitness equipment they’ve purchased…For many businesses navigating the pandemic, the mantra has been that ‘with every crisis comes opportunity.’ In Peloton’s case, it’s the opportunity that has created the crisis. With Covid-19 lockdowns substantially increasing demand for its products, Peloton has struggled to keep up with orders (something that CEO John Foley acknowledged in his Thanksgiving message to customers).”
Published on November 25 as a “note of thanks” on peloton.com, the message states in part: “…we know that some of our Members have been frustrated by delivery delays and unexpected rescheduling of deliveries caused by unforeseen circumstances including COVID-related warehouse closures and port congestion. It pains us that we have fallen short of the level of service all of our Members deserve. We can and will do better. We will keep working non-stop to deliver on our promise to put you, our Members, first.”
This is both a customer service under-delivering nightmare and an opportunity. Here are two ways Peloton could help turn frowns upside down via a heartfelt customer service initiatives where actions match words:
Offer substantive “oops, we came up short” compensation to buyers who have endured extensive delays going way past original delivery dates. This could be something in the form of a credit toward future monthly workout subscription fees. And, as soon as possible, customer service should reach out to these buyers to engage and attempt to assuage their frustration with updated delivery commitment dates (predictability often helps in these situations), and an offer to answer questions. Sincerity, not scripted doubletalk, is mandatory here;
Launch a public apology and truthtelling campaign broadcast far and wide, coupled with concrete steps being taken to improve the situation. Patrick Doyle, former CEO of Domino’s Pizza, provided a great precedent more than a decade ago.
Notes an article in qz.com (Quartz), “Domino’s pizza was once known as the pie with a cardboard crust whose sauce tasted like ketchup. In 2010, its then-new CEO, Patrick Doyle, decided to own those badges of dishonor in a series of surprisingly candid ads. Not many brands would risk facing the cameras to essentially say, ‘Yeah, we suck,’ but apparently he was on to something. According to Harvard Business review, facing the brutal criticism and revisiting its pizza recipe that year was partly why the CEO was able to rewrite Domino’s market history with the kind of turnaround story that investors love.”
It’s time for Peloton to “pedal” a new customer service narrative with authentic and transparent follow-through.
Promises and performance are chief spotlights of customer service. Companies that over-promise and under-deliver increasingly are finding their reputations, and consequently their revenues, jeopardized. Conversely, companies that go the extra mile to meet or even exceed their promises are retaining existing customers while attracting new ones—often in droves. As the spotlight on enlightened customer service intensifies, buyers are gravitating ever-more-quickly toward companies that make their promises match performance.Mark Lusky
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Mark Lusky (aka The Happy Curmudgeon)
is the owner of a Denver-based marketing communications firm. He’s a veteran writer, storyteller and author, with 40+ years of public relations, advertising, marketing and journalism experience, and author of A Wandering Wondering Jew… and co-author of Don’t Get Mad, Get Leverage.