We look up to pioneers in truly exceptional customer service— Nordstrom, Intuit, Zappos. But in a world where everyone from cable companies to cell phone providers claim customer service as priority number one, it’s hard to stand out. If you’ve ever been given a four hour window for a cable installation or had to press 13 different buttons only to be told that you’ll need to be transferred, you know what I mean.
We knew that offering the very best customer service experience possible would be a tough promise to live up to, but we made it one of our six core company values anyway. We like difficult problems. If you can figure them out, they’re the hardest for other people to copy.
In the end, we took a very simple approach to how we would treat customers: figure out what the customer values most, and then deliver just that in an over-the-top experience.
For example, we sell stationery, announcements and invitations, including birth announcements to wedding invitations and holiday cards. These special occasion products are meant to convey some of the happiest moments in your life, so for decades customers walked into stores where they customized their stationery with the help of staff members who made perfection and attention to detail their highest priorities.
Then companies like Tiny Prints offered the ability to take that in-store experience online and receive the same products lightning fast and at lower prices without sacrificing quality. But we wanted more. We wanted our shopping experience to be faster, cheaper, higher quality AND with better customer service. We achieved the last by building our own personalization technology to put the power of customization into the hands of customers. Now they could shop from anywhere, anytime, without ever waiting in line.
But beyond that, a key decision we made to differentiate us from everyone else was to recognize that customers are human. Stationery is purchased in bulk—50, 75, 100 or more at a time. So if you make a typo, grammatical error or common mistake like leaving off where to RSVP for a party, you would get 50, 75, 100 or more copies of that mistake. And the worst part is that the minute you check out from our competitors’ websites, your order is stuck in an automated queue that cannot be stopped.
We decided that was unacceptable if we were going to be leaders in service. Humans make mistakes, and since we enabled customers to build their products exactly the way they want, we decided to take full accountability for their work. It makes sense when you think about it. We see millions of cards each year, so we are experts in language, etiquette, design, photos and much more. While a customer may customize a special occasion product a few times a year, we do it all day, every day, all year long.
That’s why rather than having our orders go from web to print, we funnel our orders from the web to HUMANS to print. We review every single line for typos, grammar, proper etiquette, photo quality, typography enhancement opportunities and much more. We have binders as thick as telephone books to train our experts to look out for our customers. And it’s not just one human—it’s as many as necessary to get the order perfect. After all, even our humans make mistakes.
That’s what really sets us apart, and why I’m so proud of the customer service we offer today. It might cost a little more, but in the end it’s worth it to me to have perfection be a part of our brand promise.