The Importance of Being Honest: Lessons learned from the JustFab disaster

Business.com / Business Solutions / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Tricky marketing tactics won't get you far. Here are the important customer service lessons to learn from the JustFab VIP program disaster.

It’s never wise to make a customer, client or subscriber feel like they’re being duped, and recently, the brains behind the online retailer JustFab have been learning this lesson the hard way.

A few months ago, BuzzFeed News reported on the huge amount (1,000!) of customer complaints that have been submitted against JustFab to the Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission.

Many of these criticisms involve the company’s “VIP Program” which charges subscribers $39.95 per month in exchange for discounted clothes. It’s not the subscription itself that bothered customers, but the way the company surreptitiously went about it.

Complaining consumers claimed that the company disguises the signup process and aren’t forthright about the monthly recurring payment. To add a rotten cherry on top, customers are only able to cancel the unwanted subscription over the phone, making the cancelation process purposely cumbersome.

Related Article: Like PB&J: Customer Service as a Marketing Strategy

As a result of this shadiness, the company suffered big time and are adopting the face of a fraud. Bonnie Patten, executive director of Truth in Advertising, told Bloomberg Business that JustFab tactics are shady. "It's a model that allows [JustFab] to make more money," said Patten. "Unfortunately, misleading marketing works. And that's what this company is, in some part, using to be so successful."

Misleading marketing can (unfortunately) ream positive financial results, at least temporarily. But it’s obviously not the way YOU should be doing business.

In order to avoid a similar snafu as the one JustFab is dealing with, learn how to be honest in your sales process.

Make Opting Out Easy

As much as you hate losing customers, it’s worse to lose customers who plan to go straight to the Better Business Bureau with complaints. Let them leave in happy spirits. JustFab felt the opposite way, using antiquated tactics that cable companies have used for years.

The company’s co-CEO Adam Goldenberg claims that by restricting the cancelation process to over-the-phone conversation allows customer service representatives to persuade people to stay. Which is really just annoying. If you respect the time of your consumers, you will gain more trust among those that might be interested in your brand. Plus, you want and need useless customers to leave.

It’s more cost-effective to spend time and marketing dollars on the buyers that love your product and find it relevant to their lives.  

Be Upfront With Price Early

Your product may be fantastic, but that doesn’t mean you should hide the costs until the checkout process. You may want your potential customers to see the benefits of buying your product or service before being offended by the price tag, but the reality is, price always matters and consumers need to see a dollar sign right away. Hiding the price tag is a sure-fire way to lose the trust of visitors real quick. Many studies show that, out of all the information on a website, pricing information was ranked the most important by users.

Plus, hiding the price is inefficient. Why trick people who can’t afford your product into buying it- only for them to cancel their subscription or return their purchase and create more unnecessary work for your employees? Target the right patrons by putting the price tag up front, and stop worrying about tricking everyone else.

Admit Your Weaknesses

Even though JustFab is playing mind games with shoppers, Goldenberg stands behind the sales and registration tactics. “The vast, vast, vast majority of our customers not only understand the VIP model, they also really like it," Goldenberg told Bloomberg Business. "It is certainly not the company's intention to have anybody be confused." If you’ve found yourself in a similar predicament, where your customers feel duped for some reason, do not insult their intelligence. Apologize and fix the issue immediately.  

Related Article: Customer Service Crimes: This Is Why Your Business Is Failing

Bring in a Third-Party Analyst and Hire More Customer Service Reps

Now this is something that JustFab is doing correctly (golf clap). Goldenberg recently announced that the company will bring in auditors to analyze customers service systems and will share the findings with the public. They’ll also be hiring more executive-level customer service professionals to head the “member satisfaction” sector of the company. Unfortunately, the dude is still sticking to his guns in regards to the cancelation process. He doesn’t make any promises when it comes to easy ways to unsubscribe.

Image via Wikipedia

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