Nespresso Must Learn Digital Experience Requires A Helping Brand Beyond Swooning At George Clooney

Being digital is about a lot more than getting a well-known heartthrob to sip your beverage. That seems to be the message that Nespresso is starting to learn as it admits that it needs to do a lot more to inform consumers about its recycling options. It's important for the well-known brand because not only does it interact with customers through its online Nespresso Club, it also uses aluminum pods that have raised question marks over sustainability.

As ever, I think the brand could learn a lot from being its own customer. The problem is that Nespresso does very little to push its recycling online. In fact, it's very easy to miss the check box to request that a full bag of spent pods be picked up. It's hardly noticeable. Then, when you go through to checkout, it doesn't appear at all. While you can add more coffee to an order, there appears to be no way of going back and ordering a courier to pick up your empties.

What's worse, the brand doesn't deliver on its promise to pick up recyclable pods. I think it has only ever worked out once or twice for me. Even then, the courier moaned about the bags, which are badly designed with a sealant that does little to keep the bag securely closed. He was right -- it's a really poor design. The vast majority of the time, though, if I have remembered to request a pickup of spent pods, it never happens. Someone will deliver new coffee but say they are not the guy who takes away the old ones. Despite calls to Nespresso, that guy never turns up. He or she hasn't done so for a couple of years now. It leaves our household having to lug in a bunch of plastic bags to the brand's store at the Westfield shopping centre every few months. Apparently you can take the bags to certain stores -- but I have to be honest -- I'm pretty fed up with ticking the box for them to come to me and then nobody shows.

So this isn't just a complaint about Nespresso. It's a general point that brands need to be their own customers to see the barriers they can unwittingly put in their way. The Nespresso customer services software, for example, is useless. I know because I have been on the phone with their guys several times and it doesn't allow them to, for example, alter an order's address until it has already been shipped. What on earth is the point of that? It builds in failure from the start of an order process even when a customer subsequently tries to make things right.

I always remember talking to a retail expert a few years ago at an event who said one of the biggest challenges for well-known brands would be working in reverse, to allow things to come back or to act on input from digital customers. Brands that are accustomed to just sending stuff out need to become accustomed to listening as hard as they talk and having a two-way dialogue. Here, Nespresso, in my experience, shows how important it is to help customers online.

If you want them to be aware of your recycling offer, then, why not make it more prominent? Why not point out that someone hasn't ordered a pod pick up and if they want to alter that they can tick "here." Or maybe point out, as you haven't ordered a pickup, you may want to know where your nearest store is that will accept used pods for recycling? Why do everything in your power to hide the service and then not deliver it as you turn around and wonder why customers aren't getting it? Be your own customer -- that's the secret.


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