Lululemon blames the Customer

Like Netflix – I love Lululemon as a consultant and as a Customer. For years, Lululemon was a case study for retailing excellence, creating an excellent Customer experience in their stores. I still use their innovative model as an example for my consulting clients. However, 2013 has not been a good year for the Canadian-based athletic apparel company. What Lululemon is doing to itself is almost as bad as what Netflix did to themselves in 2011. Netflix decided to increase their prices 60% overnight, and as a result, Netflix had to staff hundreds of extra Customer service reps to handle the incoming calls of irate Customers. They also had to deal with 4,000 negative posts on their blog. If that wasn’t enough, they got 80,000 posts on their Facebook page. Their president didn’t make things any better when he sent all the Customers a letter defended Netflix’s decision. As a result, Netflix lost over 1 million subscribers and their stock fell 75%.

Lululemon Meltdown – Every company goes through ups and downs. Lululemon had a few things go wrong this year:

1.     Produced yoga pants costing around $100 that were too sheer when their Customers bent over. (See past eService)
2.      When Customers tried to return the yoga pants, store associates asked them to put them on, bend over and prove they were too sheer. (Watch this hilarious video, Lululemon asks Customers to bend over)
3.     The pants were recalled, resulting in nearly $40 million lost
4.     Shareholders are suing the company
5.     CEO Christine Day resigned.
A Customer experience LEMON – The secret to meltdown survival is to minimize the downturn. As if the above wasn’t bad enough, amid all the criticism the company has been getting for these mishaps, they issued a press release to media yesterday stating that continued complaints of sheer yoga pants is caused by Customers who are wearing pants that are too small!

The problem may be that “guests don’t have the benefit of doing an in-store fit session with one of our educators to make sure the fit is right for them,” the company said in a Frequently Asked Questions section of its website.

Customer outrage – “I find this statement completely idiotic, disgusting and unprofessional, and I really truly feel Lululemon needs a new media management team that can effectively communicate publicly without insulting and alienating their entire Customer base.  What exactly is the point of a press release like this one other than to excuse themselves to their shareholders and, in effect, kissing away their loyal Customers,” says one irate blogger.
Moving forward – Lululemon needs to fix their product and, more importantly, stop doing and saying ridiculous things.  Making Customers bend over before returning pants, and insulting Customers by implying they are buying the wrong size, just further hurts their brand.  I am shocked that a company as good as Lululemon could put their foot in their mouth so badly. This is a brand I really believe in, and I hope they will get back to what they do so well versus trying to cover up for their lack of — covering up.

Watch how you can fix these problems – This November 4&5, learn how the top Customer service organizations in the world tackle issues as complicated as these at the 2013 Secret Service Summit. Don’t miss this once in a lifetime opportunity to join the ranks of the best companies in the world and pay tribute to the one aspect of business that remains the secret to success: the Customer experience.

About The Author

John DiJulius

John R. DiJulius is a best-selling author, consultant, keynote speaker and President of The DiJulius Group, the leading Customer experience consulting firm in the nation. He blogs on Customer experience trends and best practices.