Customer Experience Review

John Lewis, sometimes knowingly undersold

Kristina - 2 nd September 2016

The customer

About three weeks ago I found myself incredibly excited at the prospect of replacing my washing machine – yes, I do lead an exciting life! My old one had been hanging on for dear life since I bought my flat about two years ago, and whilst it was a bit rubbish, really loud, and had occasionally left my clothes sopping wet after a spin, it still worked… until I decided to wash a duvet. Suffice it to say, that did the poor thing in and my annoyance at having no machine was quickly overshadowed by my realisation I could get a shiny new one! 

The experience

After some online research on what I needed (wanted) and a check of the usual appliance retailers, I decided to see how much a machine would be from John Lewis. Surprisingly, one seemed to be about a hundred pounds less AND it would come with the John Lewis seal of approval for quality – not to mention their customer service! I’d heard a lot about this from older friends and family and was more than a little excited to finally experience all that John Lewis had to offer for myself.

The online purchase was easy enough and I was very pleased to find that they offered a Saturday delivery because it meant I wouldn’t have to take time off work. Everything was going swimmingly!

Until I got a call on Friday confirming my delivery on Tuesday… After much confusion and several calls to John Lewis and the distributing partner, I got two conflicting stories. John Lewis told me I had put my order in too late to qualify the Saturday delivery – even though I’d had email confirmation of this – and the distributing partner said that they had received one set of instructions from John Lewis saying the order was confirmed for Tuesday.

Whilst I understand that mistakes happen, my biggest annoyance with the experience is that at no point did anyone apologise for the mix up or even say there had been a mix up. If anything, the customer services rep made it seem like the error was entirely mine.

More than that, since receiving the machine, I emailed John Lewis with a question about potentially exchanging or upgrading the machine, but over a week on I’ve not yet heard a peep back.

The alignment

John Lewis promises its customers that they are 'Never Knowingly Undersold' on quality, service and value. Whilst I wholeheartedly agree with this on their quality and value, my experience definitely does not align with the service aspect.

In some ways, this is a small part of the overall brand experience, but in my mind, it’s one of the few things that really differentiates John Lewis from other high street retailers. It’s also an excellent example of how a brand needs to get its basics right, or risk having its whole brand promise seem empty and hard to believe.


It’s a shame that my opinion of the brand has been tainted so much because this may have been a one-off for them. But, if competing retailers work out better in the future for me, I don’t think I’ll be rushing back to John Lewis any time soon, and I certainly won’t be rushing to recommend them to any of my friends. 

Before joining Brand Vista to sate her passion for transforming brands, Kristina’s background was in marketing and planning. Now she focuses her time on managing projects, carrying out research and immersing herself in clients’ brands to help deliver commercial insights that lead to irresistible customer experiences. 
Find out more about Kristina