Last Thursday as I got into my hotel room in Melbourne I flicked on the tv as I unpacked and was devastated to hear mighty Australian beauty brand Napoleon had gone into receivership. My first thought was how on earth does this happen? My second thought was... in a way, of course this was bound to happen.
A few seconds later the newsreader announced Mr Napoleon himself would be joining them live on the broadcast, as I made a quick list in my head of some of the major Australian fashion and beauty brands that had found themselves in this position over the last few years (the sheer volume of this list breaks my heart) I can’t remember once when the very public face of the company actually went live on the media to talk about what was happening on the day of the announcement.
As he appeared on the screen the newsreader made a throw-away comment that ‘Sephora was to blame’ which Napoleon instantly shut down as codswallop in his first seconds on screen. He then went on to talk about ‘what had gone wrong’ and very calmly talked about how the changes in consumer behaviour and the online aspect had affected them as a brand who was very top heavy in physical stores, staff and traditional model overheads.
As a long-time customer of Napoleon, I had noticed their stores starting to disappear over the last two years and had experienced their lack of ‘organisation’ when it came to handling non-face-to-face transactions. Last year I bought a new makeup brush (these puppies aren’t cheap - think over $100+) from their Chapel Street boutique which I generally visit every 12 weeks when I’m here. When I got back to my hotel to use the brush I found it was actually faulty and was snapped into two inside it’s sealed packet. Not having time to go back to the boutique when I was in Melbourne, when I returned to Brisbane I found all their local boutiques near me had actually closed so I went for the next best thing, to visit their official makeup counters in Myer/DJ’s. What did I found? I big steaming pile of ‘sorry but we won’t be assisting you’. I was there in front of official Napoleon staff, at their official counter but because of how they had set up their business with the in-store counters I was told by each of them (I tried 3) that they can’t replace the faulty brush for me, nor could they give me a refund or even a store credit. Annoyed and with my 15+ years of customer loyalty disappearing fast, I contacted their social media team to explain what had happened and beg for some assistance, I included play by plays of every part of the journey, photos of the product (still in its packaging), photos of the receipt and everything they needed to just send me a freaking replacement. Their reply? I was welcome to send the brush and original receipt to HQ for them to look at (thanks sweetheart but spending another $15 on tracked postage wasn’t what I was after) and they would review the matter and consider sending me a replacement. Ooh or I could go into the CBD and pay a zillion dollars for parking and waste a few hours of my life. Nope.
This multi-level steaming pile of terrible customer service really destroyed my brand loyalty. I have lost count of the number of girlfriends I had put onto certain Napoleon products over the years (shimmer dust brigade represent) and have been a huge brand advocate for them. All it took was a bunch of employees not giving an ounce of #%@! to completely destroy that.
What could have potentially saved the situation? 1. Employees that get and live the values of the business and 2. Procedures + OS that supported their new model where they no longer had physical locations to support their customers and instead, needed to set up the remote support.
I’m still completely devastated for Napoleon and hope with all my entrepreneurial heart he can find a solution that supports them so they can regroup and move forward with their awesome products and brand.
Takeaways we can implement into our own businesses:
1. Do your employees truly ‘understand’ the values that drive your business? Do they live and breathe them daily in their work?
2. Does your 2019 model reflect the current needs of the market?
Want to chat about business? Felicity has been the driving force behind the Polished Group for over a decade. Tap into her ten years of being a CEO and 17 years as a marketing #expert and apply it to your own business. Felicity sells ‘1-on-1 BUY MY BRAIN’ sessions where you can purchase a block of her time to do just that. Interested? Book in now -->