Humour and Romance Redefining the Digital Customer Experience in 2016- Harvey Nichols Case Study


Share on LinkedIn

remarkable digital customer experience

A few days ago, a colleague said in utter surprise and excitement “You won’t believe the message I received when I unsubscribed from Harvey Nichols’ newsletters.” We were all curious and asked her to read out the message word for word. The first section read thus “We’re Heartbroken, Au Revior. We will always cherish the time we shared and hope you’ll think fondly of us. Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be, or maybe one day you’ll come back to us.” This message left us all in stitches, laughing our hearts out and I contemplated subscribing and unsubscribing to the newsletter, so I could receive the said message. This was a case of an excellent digital customer experience that combined humour, romance and emotional empowerment. Let’s generate some insights from this simple but funny unsubscription response:

Digital customer experience insights:

1) Emotional empowerment: The caption of the response from Harvey Nichols was “We’re Heartbroken.” It indicates vulnerability of a company. It makes the customer feel emotionally stronger as the initiator of the breakup. People naturally appreciate a feeling of emotional strength. No one likes to be rejected but we do feel a bit valued and strong when we reject a job offer, relationship, investment offer and so on. Harvey Nichols intentionally made itself look vulnerable to emotionally empower customers.

2) Knowledge of history: The next line of text was “Au Revior,” the French word for goodbye. I was wondering why Harvey Nichols decided to use a French word and not Spanish, Italian, German or any other language. It dawned on me that history indicates that romantic love can be traced back to the 12th-century Troubadour songs and poems composed in the language of the southern French and to tales written in old French. The French have contributed a lot to the emergence and growth of modern day romance. Hence, Harvey Nichols was historically aware of adopting the French language in a romantic-based unsubscription email response.

3) Fond Memories: Have you ever had a breakup but still had fond memories? Harvey Nichols relished every moment of having the customer on their subscription list. In this, they said: “We will always cherish the time we shared, and hope you’ll think fondly of us.” In this statement, the customer is placed on a high pedestal; it is made to sound like the customer is fun, desired and valuable. It creates that feeling of joy and nostalgia. It does make the breakup a lot easier to swallow.

4) Soul searching and an apology: When our romantic partner asks for a breakup, we find out if it as a result of something we’ve done wrong. Harvey Nichols is no exception as the email unsubscription had this: “Was it something we said? We can change.” There was no room to blame the other party but a moment for soul searching and asking the right questions. They valued the relationship with the customer and wanted an opportunity to make things right.

5) No room for guilt and regret: Guilt and regrets are two negative feelings that feature in most breakups. We tend to blame ourselves on how things have unfolded. Harvey Nichols had no wish to make the customer feel guilty for unsubscribing or breaking up in some context. To this end, they said: “Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be, or maybe one day you’ll come back to us.” There was no blame game but an air of destiny.

6) Friendship is an option: There is a good room for friendship in a relationship that ends on a good note. Harvey Nichols, value friendship and to this regard said “Let’s be friends. Shop the latest arrivals online or visit us in store.” As a brand, your desire is to remain present in the life of your customers. A customer may have unsubscribed from your mailing list, but you want that friendship to continue via your online or retail channel.

7) On your terms: The customer is at the centre of this relationship. Harvey Nichols stated “We don’t want this to be the end. Tell us what floats your boat and how often you want to hear from us.” The desire for friendship is designed to be on the customer’s terms. It is all about making the customer feel valued and empowered.

Harvey Nichols combined romance and humour in responding to unsubscribing customers. In 2016, the digital experience should be intentional, unconventional and memorable.

Dateme Tamuno
Dateme Tamuno (Tubotamuno) is currently working as part of the SEO and PPC delivery team for UK based digital agency, Cariad Marketing. He has also completed a book on user-generated content marketing.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here