“My flowers smell like cigarettes!”

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A few weeks ago, I opened my front door to find a courier holding a beautiful bouquet of flowers for me. Who doesn’t love to get flowers!?!

I brought them into the kitchen and buried my face in the gorgeous blossoms, only to pull away quickly – my flowers smelled like cigarettes!

It was evident that the person delivering the flowers had been smoking in the delivery vehicle. Everything smelled like cigarettes. The flowers, the card, and even the box they arrived in.

Shocked – I called the florist that had sent them. They apologized profusely, took my contact information and let me know that the manager would phone me.

And phone me she did. “I’m really sorry…”

This was sounding good so far.

“But, there’s really nothing I can do about this.”

“WHAT?!?” I thought to myself.

“We’ve had this complaint before,” she said. “I’ve spoken to the courier company we use and they can’t guarantee they flowers will be delivered in a smoke-free vehicle. We can’t afford our own delivery vehicle, so we rely on couriers to deliver our flowers.” *

I was absolutely flabbergasted. Not only had she had this complaint before, she failed to see that getting a new courier might be a better solution.

I told the manager that I would be throwing my flowers out. “Why?” she asked. “My flowers smell like cigarettes!” I replied.

Then she asked if I could come and pick up new ones and bring in the tainted ones. Not exactly the exercise you want to go through when someone has taken the time to send you flowers to celebrate an accomplishment.

We finally agreed that she would send new flowers – wrapped in brown paper this time (at my suggestion), since she would be using the same courier.

The courier arrived later that afternoon (the same gentleman from earlier in the day), with a bouquet that was smaller and no where near as nice as the first one, and snarkily said that no one had smoked around my flowers.

At the end of the day, this is a lesson in both branding and customer service. I always tell my clients that your brand is more than your logo. It extends through every experience and interaction that your customers have with your company – including your staff and the people you contract out to do work on your behalf.

As a florist, I would imagine that having flowers delivered that smell like cigarettes is probably one of the worst customer service experiences you could have.

The manager had every opportunity to set things right and keep a customer, instead, the experience left a bad smell in my kitchen, ensured I will never shop there, and provided great fodder for this post.

*NOTE: This is not verbatim what she said, but captures the essence of it.