Warby Parker is not your ordinary spectacles seller. The company started in 2010 with a single question in mind: “why a pair of glasses should cost more than an iPhone,” and so a solution to offer eyewear at a revolutionary price emerged.
Warby Parker’s entire brand revolves around gaining the customer’s trust. From their “try five frames for free” home try-on program, to the company founders sharing their stories of facing the same frustrations as their customers, Warby Parker works hard to gain and keep customers’ trust.
As a certified B Corporation, the company partners with nonprofit organizations to address the worldwide lack of access to glasses. At the end of each month, Warby Parker tallies all the glasses sold and makes a cash donation to their non-profit partners. Those partners, in turn, train men and women in developing countries to give basic eye exams and sell glasses to their communities at affordable prices.
The company’s strategy of building customer trust, offering a fairly priced product, and sharing their success with less fortunate communities is working. The proof is in the numbers. Warby Parker has grown by 500% since 2010 with no slowdown on the horizon. Four years after their launch, company co-founders announced that they had distributed their millionth pair of glasses, up from 500,000 just a year before.
Warby Parker’s most recent valuation is US$500 million. Future plans include expansion by adding at least 10 more stores in 2015 while further diversifying their glasses selection into children’s frames. They’re also exploring futuristic technologies to conduct eye exams online.
Warby Parker’s approach to customer service
This year, Warby Parker was named Fast Company’s Most Innovative Company, and their deliberate approach to the customer experience figured in prominently. First and foremost, Warby Parker designs and manufactures products to be beautiful, stylish, well-crafted and extremely affordable. They also listen intently to what their customers need and then engage with them directly, often going the extra mile to keep them happy and satisfied.
An example from Forbes.com illustrates: a customer named Michael John Mathis accidentally left his pair of Warby Parker reading glasses on the train. He bought himself a new pair the following day. Mysteriously, he received a package with not one, but two pair of those same reading glasses, and a copy of the “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac with the following note:
“Hi Michael, This might be odd… but you sat across from me on the train ride from NYC to Boston a few weeks ago and left your glasses on the train! As luck would have it, I happen to be the GC of Warby Parker, and there is nothing I like more than a good mystery… I hope these find you in good health! (also, we noticed your lenses were scratched so we made you a fresh pair!) Sincerely, AK”
Michael’s reaction: “And just like that, they have retained a customer for life.”
Using social media and video to make customer connections
Since the company started, the social media team has produced nearly 2,000 customer-response videos. They are often very short and feature a young, attractive member of the customer service team who speaks directly to a customer. Occasionally, a celebrity like supermodel Karlie Kloss (*pictured above, courtesy of Warby Parker) will speak directly to customer, as when she posted a series of responses about a special collection that she’d helped design. How’s that for making an impact with customers?
And we know from experience that this kind of personal connection through social media goes all the way up to the company’s top executives.
At TELUS International, we can’t help but admire these kinds of approaches to the customer experience; when you’ve got a great brand and business model, making a personal connection with customers gives a company what it really needs in a tough industry like retail: staying power.