REI & Me: A Customer Reactivation Story (

About 10 years ago, REI made me so stinking mad that I swore I’d never grace their check-out again. A brand-advocate no more, I huffed my outraged “customer-no-service” story to everyone that cared to listen. Their offense? They made me pay for return shipping on a few items that didn’t fit. And worse, because I didn’t get my way, I decided the phone rep was rude and dismissive. Yes, I’m guilty of perpetuating the “all-about-me” attitude pervasive in the consumer world.

WORD OF CAUTION: YES, one bad experience can ruin a customer relationship forever. And the reason can be as petty as feeling dismissed.

But then, darn it, suddenly I couldn’t avoid them – they were everywhere. My friends and staff became enamored with this brand, and would gush about how much they LOVED REI. I would consistently challenge them, remind them of my disappointing break-up. My friends could not have cared less. They would tout REI’s incredible customer experience (both online and in-store), the beautiful catalog, helpful online content, the deals they received as a member and the list goes on. I would begrudgingly peruse the REI catalog laying around the office. I couldn’t help but admire the gorgeous spreads that first compelled me to buy. Not only were they everywhere I turned, I had to admit, they looked really good. I stuck to my jilted guns.

Then I heard rumblings about a few interesting campaigns in the marketplace over the last few years – you may have heard of #OptOutside – and like an old lover, I began creeping. Then, while preparing for an adventure vacation in New Zealand, looking for specific apparel items, they kept popping up in my search results. Were they creeping on me?

In case you’re not familiar with their long-running #OptOutside campaign, REI closes its doors and pauses online ordering on Black Friday, encouraging their 13,000+ employees to go spend the day outdoors. And they took it to the next level this last Thanksgiving. They tweaked their campaign slightly to #OptToAct encouraging not only their employees but their 18 million+ members to not just enjoy the outdoors but join an organized environmental cleanup effort. But not just for one day. The Opt to Act Plan suggests 52 weeks of simple challenges to reduce our impact, get active, and leave the world better than you found it.
much, much more at:

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