A well-aligned strategy serves as the building blocks of a company's products and services, and eventual growth. But that doesn't just mean that a company's marketing messaging or customer service must be consistent across channels; it also means that an organization's marketing must align to the actual products and service it delivers.
Ikea could learn a thing or two from this principle. Over the weekend, I traveled to the blue and yellow Mecca of pop-and-lock furniture in search of three stools for my kitchen island, after convincing my husband to finally sell our man-cave appropriate landscaping-theme stools left by our home's previous owners.
After finding the style I wanted online, I checked the store's inventory Saturday morning. Great, 10 in stock. I made my way to the store, and upon entering, I immediately steered clear of the cafeteria as the Swedish meatball beckoned (the news of the horse meat balls in Europe were still fresh in my mind).
After weaving my way through the maze of rattan chaise lounges and flowering plants, I finally came upon my bar stools. Great, I checked the names and inventory numbers and headed to the warehouse. Now here's where it gets interesting. I don't know if any of you've seen the most recent "You Got This" commercial where the husband and wife are shopping and they end up at the warehouse after winding through Ikea's showroom and the wife asks the husband, "You got this?" He tells her that he does and sends her off to the cafeteria for some Swedish equine balls (I kid). Immediately a friendly employee saddles up to him to inquire whether he needs help and the man asks, "You got this?" as the employee takes the couple's shopping list to find the packages in the warehouse while the man most likely joins his wife at the cafe.
I'll stop horsing around. So I recently saw that commercial and it's the reason why I traveled solo to buy and transport three bar stools by myself, as my husband was working. I told him that apparently Ikea must have undergone new hiring and training because the most recent television commercial ensures me that I'll have help in finding and transporting the boxes to my car.
I was wrong.
When I arrived at Ikea's distribution center, I couldn't find the boxes that contained my Henricksdal stools. I flagged down a sole employee after waiting behind three other customers with questions. He pointed me to the aisle across the vast warehouse that contained my boxes of stools, but didn't follow me to offer assistance. When I found the specific bin, the description on the boxes didn't match the description of the stool I wanted to buy. So I went in search of yet another employee who could help. This one reluctantly followed me to the bin after I described my dilemma and once there, he assured me that the boxes contained the right stools. When I asked where I could find a cart, he pointed in the direction and walked away! No, "I got this" from him either. So I heaved the three unwieldy boxes off the shelves by myself and onto my cart, then pushed the heavy cart to the check-out, through the parking lot, and lifted each one into my car's hatch with no employee assistance.
I'm not sure where the gap exists in this service-advertising disconnect. Maybe the creative agency behind Ikea's latest television commercials didn't speak to the executives in customer service, or maybe Ikea never followed through with the appropriate training to match the messaging in its latest advertising, but there's a lesson to be learned here. A company's service strategy must align to its creative before launching a campaign, or else it risks entering into deceptive or misleading advertising practices.