Apart from delivering quality products and services, customer service is a valuable way to build a community of loyal brand advocates. But what does that look like today?
Today, customers having the ability to engage and communicate with brands on more channels than just email or phone. Because of this, brands have a huge opportunity to establish stronger bonds with their customers by using the same communication channels as they do. And customers seem to be reacting positively to this with over 80% of Instagram users expressing they follow at least 1 business on the app.
We’ve identified the top brands that are using customer service in a modern fashion to engage with and better understand their customers.
Glossier’s gTEAM encourages customers to engage
As a true Glossier fanatic, I am probably slightly more biased regarding this brand than the next person, but I swear–it’s only because they probably haven’t tried Glossier yet or they don’t wear makeup… Those are simply the only two reasons why they wouldn’t be as passionate about the brand as I am...
The direct-to-consumer beauty brand has strategically done something that I have never seen before. Driven by their founder and CEO, Emily Weiss, the brand understood how important customer service would be to them and made sure to structure the company in a way that reflected the value the department would provide instead of treating it as a cost center. With this in mind, Weiss thoughtfully placed the customer service team within the marketing department and evolved the lackluster traditional role into a more modern, appealing one that employees would be motivated to step into every day. In doing so, the gTEAM was born.
Glossier’s gTEAM is responsible for handling all communication directly with customers, regardless of whether it’s an email or an Instagram comment and providing the rest of the marketing team with customer insights that are used for product development and brand strategy. Because who knows customers better than those speaking to them every minute of the day? Consisting of 30 or so “editors,” the gTEAM prides themselves on being product experts, engaging in meaningful conversations with customers, offering product recommendations and handling any customer questions or issues that come their way.
One time, a bride-to-be reached out because Glossier was sold out of their famous Haloscope stick, which she was hoping to wear on her big day. After the gTEAM received the message, they reached out to the entire office to try and locate an unopened Haloscope stick. Luckily they were able to locate one and shipped it to the relieved bride. It’s little stories like this that don’t surprise me as a Glossier customer because I can feel a mutual appreciation between myself and Glossier and I know they would try their best to accommodate any customer’s needs.
From personal experience, I have yet to see a question, comment or complaint go unnoticed on Glossier’s social media. They even “liked” my instagram story when I mentioned them, which I cannot say any other brand of even half their size or stature would take the time to do. It was a nice gesture and felt like they were thanking me for being a brand advocate and helping spread the word. The fact that I can visibly see the gTEAM actively engaging with customers in friendly and personal way encourages me to engage because I feel close to the brand through them. I feel like we are friends.
By turning each customer into a brand advocate through exceptional customer support and real engagement, Glossier has been able achieve 80% of their growth and sales from peer-to-peer recommendations and their own channels. This is how Glossier is “winning” when it comes to servicing their customers’ wants, needs and even egos 😉.
Away builds trust with customers
The luggage company has found a way to make consumers actually care about their luggage. And yes, I said luggage–as in the stuff you unpleasantly drag around airports and usually associate with the stress and discomfort of traveling.
Away started out by creating a modernized carry-on suitcase that solved all the common frustrations traditional suitcases presented, including ease of transport, durability, organizing ability, security and reliability. Not to mention, they made them look cool. Away’s luggage also offers a built-in lock, the ability to charge one’s phone (a necessity today) and a number of other customizable options to suit travelers’ needs. Needless to say, their products have received raving reviews. However, it is Away’s ability to gain the trust of customers that truly sets them apart from their competitors. One that comes with a lifetime warranty and a 100-day trial.
With Away’s 100-day trial, customers have the luxury of trying out a suitcase for the allotted time and exchanging or returning it if they find it doesn’t suit their needs. This removes a lot of the hesitations customers have in regard to making a big purchase. You can see that Away even encourages their customers to send their order back (on them!) if they are not satisfied with their purchase, regardless of whether it has been used or not. This is a great example of a company going beyond what is normally expected and not giving up on a customer, even after leaving a negative review. By removing any worries customers may have in trying out their products, Away establishes trust with customers.
We’ve written a bit about how it’s good for businesses to leave negative reviews along with the positive ones because it makes them seem like a real company. Additionally, it can provide businesses an opportunity to publicly turn a negative customer experience into a positive one and show others they care about their customers. It seems Away plays by these rules too.
Reviews aside, Away is also very active when it comes to engaging with customers on social media as well. The tone they take with their customers, regardless of whether it’s a positive or negative question or comment, is friendly, appreciative and helpful. In doing so, Away is showing their community that all types of questions and comments are welcomed and given equal attention.
In this Instagram post by Away, you can see that they are actively communicating with customers and addressing several different types of contacts in the comments section. From answering customer product questions, addressing complaints, acknowledging product feedback and wishing a new customer a great trip, Away demonstrates consistently strong customer support and is building a community of engaged, trusting customers at the same time.
Outdoor Voices just makes it easy
The activewear brand, also referred to as OV for short, has taken the athleisure market by storm. Tyler Haney, the company’s CEO and founder, got the inspiration for the brand from a personal need she felt the brands available at the time did not satisfy. She wanted to create athletic apparel that didn’t make you feel like a superhero and add extra pressure to an activity that many already feel intimidated to do anyways. Haney wanted to provide customers with a product and customer experience that was comfortable and easy, removing as many stresses as possible in order to get more people “doing things,” one of the brand’s mottos.
Sticking to the their core values, Outdoor Voices has been able to offer customers with an effortless online shopping experience, thanks to their detailed product descriptions, customer reviews, fit videos, thorough sizing guide, an easy return/exchange process and an extensive FAQ section. In doing so, OV gives customers all the information they need to answer any questions they may have on their own while shopping. Additionally, OV makes it very easy for customers to reach out to their support team should they have any further questions that could not be answered via their product descriptions.
Providing customers with viable self-service options along with the ability to get in touch 7 days a week lets customers know what to expect and removes a number of road blocks that usually keep customers from ordering online (especially when trying a product for the first time).
Another unique way OV is able to provide exceptional customer support is by being proactive and anticipating their customer’s needs. I experienced this after placing my first OV order last month when I received an unexpected email from them shortly after my order arrived. The email that I received literally read my mind and answered the questions I had about the way the product was supposed to fit in a friendly, trusting tone. The email ended by giving me the option to simply reply to get help if I determined the size was still not right after reading their advice. Easy-peasy!
Outdoor voices is a great example of an ecommerce business that makes shopping online easy and fun through helpful resources and friendly, proactive customer support.
Warby Parker chats with customers wherever they prefer
The direct-to-consumer prescription glasses brand revolutionized buying glasses online by offering customers with the option to try 5 frames from their massive online collection, free of charge, for 5 days before deciding if/which ones they would like to keep. Warby Parker’s website also allows customers to try on frames virtually by uploading a photo of themselves. Needless to say, they have found a way to make purchasing glasses online tremendously easier for their customers, but their customer experience doesn’t stop there.
Warby Parker has been consistently crushing it when it comes to their customer support. From their website to their social profiles, the brand is constantly engaging with and assisting customers, typically replying to Facebook Messages within an hour on average (which is pretty good). They also engage in conversations with their customers in the comments section of their posts too, taking in product feedback, gracefully acknowledging accolades and answering customer questions or complaints.
After reading through several conversations on Warby Parker’s social media accounts, I was able to see that they never make their customers switch channels to solve their issue either, something that many brands have the habit of doing (ex: “Please email email@example.com for assistance”). Directing customers to using traditional customer service channels such as email or phone is a process that many companies are still in the habit of doing when in reality, we should be trying to meet customers where they prefer and stay there.
Warby Parker also has a twitter handle dedicated solely to helping customers (@WarbyParkerHelp), something that a couple other brands such as XBOX and Asos have also adopted, after recognizing how many of their customers preferred to communicate with them there. The bottom line is that they have caught on to the fact that there is not a “one size fits all” in terms of what channels customers prefer to communicate with your brand on. The best way to make sure your customers have an effortless and comfortable customer support experience is to find out where they want to talk to you, meet them there and keep them there.
So, how can you deliver a more modern customer support experience online?
Looking at Glossier, Away, Outdoor Voices and Warby Parker it’s clear to see that these brands have found effective ways to not only provide a more modern version of customer support, but also garner an engaged community of passionate brand advocates. So, what are the common themes here?
Well, for starters, all of these brands have a customer-centric approach to how they run their business. They care about the type of the customer experience they deliver, including their customer support experience and they have made a conscious effort to make their customers feel valued.
Now, here’s what modern tips we can learn from these customer obsessed brands and apply to our own:
- Approach customer support as a major value driver instead of a cost center.
- Be where your customers are.
- Once you find them, keep the conversation there.
- Engage with your customers, whether they have a complaint or gave you a nice compliment–they’ll appreciate it.
- Encourage and reward customers for being brand advocates.
- Be available as much as you can, customers don’t want to be kept waiting!
- Try and provide your customers with as much information as you can to solve their questions themselves, but also make it easy to get in touch with a real person.
- Anticipate your customer’s needs and be proactive about meeting them.
- Treat your customers like real people, because they are and so are you!
By applying these tips to your own brand and approaching customer service through a modernized lens, you can establish and maintain a stronger connection to your customer base that will provide your business with long-term growth.