Seven years after starting Tiny Prints, I’ve found that January can often feel like the movie “Groundhog Day,” when Bill Murray wakes up every morning to the same day, same routine and same outcome no matter how he ended the previous night.
Every year we plan for a busy holiday season starting in late winter, test what we worked on throughout the summer, scramble to get some last minute things done in the fall, hire like mad and then brace ourselves for the holiday rush (literally and emotionally). 2010 was no different—at least on the surface.
But in reality, there is so much more to January. Each year, this is the time when we have light bulbs going off. Everything we learned in past year and a holiday season in which sheer compression combined with unprecedented volume (of everything from customers to phone calls, live chats, emails, issues and nice surprises) left us with a clear idea of the things we need to work on to be a better company in the future.
We usually set our strategy for the year pretty far in advance, but January always reveals opportunities to tweak or even pivot certain initiatives as a result of this learning. And what were some of things we learned this year?
First, we found that the Tiny Prints culture of service, winning, passion and family are all alive and well. It’s absolutely humbling to see the company rally, support each other and care about each and every one of our customers.
Second, we receive more signals than ever from customers through social media, surveys and personal customer emails to our management team that you want a brand you can trust—a brand that doesn’t simply stand for rock bottom prices and compromised quality, but a brand that can create a lifelong relationship. We want to be that brand by standing for amazing quality in personal customer service, quality in design aesthetic, quality in selection, quality in web experience and quality in delivery.
Our Net Promoter score indicates that we delivered once again this past holiday season. But January is about what we can improve, not just celebrating our victories. Our website was overwhelmed by traffic, for instance, and went down for a few hours during holiday season. We ran out of certain products. Only 98 out of every 100 orders arrived with flawless execution, and while this statistic would make other companies elated, we strive to do better.
As I look forward to 2011, I am more excited than ever at the prospect of becoming that ultra-loyal brand in our market. In 2011, we will heavily invest in strategies that will help us become the absolute (not relative) very best at the things mentioned above. We look forward to challenging ourselves to make sure that not just 99.9% of our customers are happy, but 100%—to ensure that our website is the best experience, the fastest and the most reliable not 99.9% of the time, but 100% of the time. We can’t wait until our designs, selection and new products are even exceptional than customers applaud us for today.
So thank you for your input, readers, and please—keep talking to us. Tell us where we can improve, and we will make your input the highest priority.