Connect with us

Retailers Offer Their Solutions to ‘The Case of the CRM Calamity’

A small input error causes a huge problem with an engagement ring client.




SMITH’S JEWELERS WAS a chain of nine family-owned jewelry stores that had been around for generations and had established itself as the prime destination when you were ready to pop the question. They had earned their reputation by offering a wide array of bridal options and an unmatched standard of customer care with a distinct family touch.


Real Deal is a fictional scenario designed to read like real-life business events. The businesses and people mentioned in this story should not be confused with actual jewelry businesses and people.


Megan Crabtree is the founder and CEO of Crabtree Consulting. Before founding Crabtree Consulting, Megan had a successful professional career in the jewelry industry, which culminated with high-level positions at several of the top firms in the retail and manufacturing sectors. Reach her at or visit us at where you can set up a live chat or a 30-minute free consultation.


For decades, Smith’s had been known in the local community for giving back at local charity events. Through these philanthropic efforts as well as a prominent presence on local radio stations, they built a strong following of younger bridal customers. Their name was synonymous with having the largest selection of engagement rings throughout their markets, but they also curated a selection of fashionable jewelry, catering to diverse tastes and occasions.

While they built their business on in-person relationships, they also understood the importance of embracing new technology that would help them keep in touch with clients. As their stores passed through generations, they made a promise to uphold the ideology that retail stores should adapt to changing times in order to maintain their success. Eventually, they discovered a new software that could integrate with their existing POS system and help them nurture the relationships they had fostered over the years. The stores could stay in touch all year round, building relationships beyond buying and selling. The automated setup helped collect client information and turned into a way to effortlessly keep customers feeling close. Clients received warm wishes on their birthdays and anniversaries and were provided gentle reminders of the store’s presence during important moments.

It was at a cancer awareness event that a young couple named Scott and Kayla initially met the Smith family. Kayla felt an instant bond with the Smiths once she learned they had a shared experience, having both lost loved ones to cancer. She admired the family’s generosity in donating jewelry to the charity. This event wasn’t an isolated incident; it represented the store’s broader commitment to supporting their community.


After five years together, Scott and Kayla discussed the idea of marriage and taking the next big step together. Remembering the bond Kayla had formed with the Smith family, they chose Smith’s Jewelers as the store where they would search for the perfect engagement ring.

Upon entering the store, they immediately felt the love when they were welcomed by multiple family members, greeted by name, and offered refreshments. This personalized treatment extended to each guest who entered, whether making a purchase or not. The atmosphere was one of affection and comfort. Beyond the showcases of beautiful diamonds reflecting the store’s commitment to workmanship and quality, they sensed a familial atmosphere. What they discovered was that Smith’s Jewelers wasn’t just a jewelry store; it was a haven of stories, connections, and meaningful contributions to the community.

It was the day every girl anticipates: a chance to try on diamond engagement rings. Kayla’s eyes lit up with excitement as she slipped on different options. Their sales associate, Shelby, suggested that Kayla create a wishlist of her favorite pieces, which included three stunning engagement rings and a diamond pendant. Unbeknownst to Kayla, Scott discreetly made note of the ring that had stolen her heart – the ring that would soon symbolize his unwavering commitment. As they left the store, Scott made a promise to himself to return and make that cherished ring his own and began crafting a surprise proposal.

After the couple left, Shelby diligently entered Kayla’s wishlist into the Smith’s CRM system. However, a minor oversight in the system’s configuration would later have unintended consequences. Kayla’s contact information was listed as the primary contact for the wishlist, with Scott as the secondary. The system was programmed to send out automated text messages to primary contacts upon the completion of a purchase.

As a result, when Scott returned and covertly purchased Kayla’s favorite ring from the wishlist a few days later, the automation system sent a text message to Kayla asking for her feedback on her shopping experience. The system that had been intended to enhance the customer experience, uncover valuable feedback and streamline operations had disastrously spoiled what Scott had hoped would be the surprise of a lifetime for Kayla.

Kayla was devastated to break the news to Scott: She knew he had bought the ring, and the element of surprise was now lost. Fueled by frustration, Scott took action. He called the store and expressed his anger at the untimely text message that had undermined the surprise he had worked so diligently to create. He informed the store’s manager that if they couldn’t fix this, he would return the ring and would not be returning to do business in the future.

The Big Questions

  • How would you overcome this situation and preserve your relationship with the customer?
  • What insights does this story offer into the challenges of incorporating technology into deeply personal experiences, especially when trying to preserve the element of surprise?
  • How would you train your team or alter your CRM platform to ensure that nothing of this nature happens in your own business?


Stuart T.
Reisterstown, MD

The problem is, how do you put the genie back in the bottle? The young lady already knows about the ring purchase, so how do you make it right? This is a chance for the store to come out smelling like a rose. Come up with a great idea for Scott to give the diamond ring to Kayla. One idea would be for the store to organize some type of event for Scott to give her the ring. A flash mob could do a musical proposal with Scott at the center of it, along with photographers and Scott’s and Katie’s family. This is all done with Scott’s permission. Admitting to creating the problem as well as trying to correct it could be a big win for everybody.

Jacqueline S.
Russell, KY

Unfortunately, we are humans using CRM and mistakes happen. You cannot fix this mistake or truly do anything to make it right. The customer is rightfully upset, but how do you rectify this? You simply can offer an apology. You can’t turn back time. How about offering something exceptional as a way to fix this. Maybe, give them $5,000 towards their honeymoon or offer to provide them with free wedding bands. There are many things you can do, but it will never turn back time nor technology.

J. Mason C.
Chapel Hill, NC

Perfect example of the critical nature of online security. My business has not relied on artificial intelligence any more than absolutely necessary. Although a small oversight can cause problems, it is far more likely to occur in digital technology. No one deserves the aftermath, but it could’ve been avoided. I would never allow digital technology to automatically contact my customers. Such activity clearly reveals how vulnerable business is in the world of digital communication.

I would forgive the salesperson immediately and have them compose a humble apology to the customers. The customer would be completely justified in posting a scalding review. The salesperson would not have called the wrong person.

Brad L.
Duncan, BC

Don’t use CRMs; use people! We don’t, haven’t and never will use computers, social media or the like to express what we have taken years to understand. Online sales are, even with the use of chat, video, etc., impersonal. If you believe in rapport, you must make the effort to engage. AI can’t tell the story like someone with many years of experience can.

Shery F.
Scottsdale, AZ

Always verify where the e-mail should go after each sale. An account should have been set up under Scott’s name.

Amanda L.

This is so unfortunate. We have changed our system not to automatically send communication for this very reason. Sometimes customers want the purchase under the recipient’s account for ease of warranty or adjustments. Tech is great, but there are still limitations. We have since moved to a manual system for texting or emailing thank-yous. All you can do is apologize and ask the client what could make it better.

Ronnie G.
Thomasville, GA

Has happened here. Tough. All you can do is apologize sincerely. Honest mistake. No way to “fix it,” only to call the fiancée and apologize as well.

Peter T.
Show Low, AZ

The very first thing that needs to be done is to reset the computer to NEVER contact a customer without specific input from an employee. And of course, that employee should be made aware of the importance of only sending appropriate messages.

It is difficult (more like impossible) to un-tell the girl that he bought her a ring. I would apologize to the customer, explain the situation, and ask him what I could do to make this right in his eyes. If his request is reasonable, I’d do it. If his request is unreasonable, I would suggest a solution that I could live with. If he does not accept that, I would accept a return on the ring and focus on helping future customers — you can’t win them all.

Ralph H.
Connersville, IN

How about this: Get ahold of several of their friends and her. Come up with an amazing deal for a ring from her to him. Get all together for a surprise party for both future spouses, at an expensive local restaurant (you may be giving away the groom’s ring). Use store name, with sheepish grin on boss’s face, all on a big banner with the message, “OOPS.” They present each other with the “known, unknown rings” and all ride off happily into the sunset. It’ll cost you, but think of the free publicity (well, not free). Give each other the annual “foot in mouth” award. When all else fails, “watch this.” Just ask Viv … if you could. (In Memorium: Viv Himelick.)

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. jewelry store, you’re invited to join the INSTORE Brain Squad. By taking one five-minute quiz a month, you can get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting the jewelry industry. Good deal, right? Sign up here.

Most Popular