Today’s interview is with Monica Higgins, eSalon‘s Director of Customer Service. eSalon is an award wining and rapidly growing company that provides salon quality, at-home hair color at affordable prices all online. Monica joins me today to talk customer service, what being proactive means for them and how they are providing salon level service and quality online.
This interview follows on from my recent interview – Delivering an excellent customer experience across 15 different countries – Interview with Delphine Mousseau of Zalando – and is number 177 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to their customers.
Here’s the highlights of my interview with Monica:
- A former educator, Monica has worked for a number of internet start-ups.
- She now leads the customer service team at eSalon, the only made-to-order, at home hair colour and care company that individually formulates and customises every hair colour for each client based on their personal hair profile.
- They custom mix their colour for their clients based on a series of questions and pictures that their clients provide.
- eSalon’s customer service is and always has been proactive in nature and is now part of their DNA.
- To facilitate this one of the main things that they do is continuously listen to their clients.
- But, most importantly, they then take action based on any feedback that they receive in order to improve their service and solve any problems before they occur.
- This is bolstered by a 100% satisfaction guarantee as they know that when they are formulating colour it is part art and part science. So, if a client is not happy they offer them a complimentary reformulation or a refund.
- They are also using analytics to help them improve their service. One of the things that they have learned is that their customers tend to describe their own hair colour 2-3 shades darker than they really are. As such, they have made adjustments to their algorithms to adjust for that. That has helped customers achieve the best hair colour for them and has also helped minimise returns.
- All of their customer service team are licensed and trained colourists and have worked in hair salons too. Therefore, they are all true experts and professionals in their own right.
- This approach is paying off for the business. They now have around 162,000 active subscribers in around 20 different countries and have formulated around 135,000 unique hair colour formulations to cater for each client’s different hair needs and differences.
- To make their service more-high touch and to take it closer to an in-salon experience they have been experimenting with video consultation during the initial ordering process.
- Doing so has helped them achieve a 20-30% increase in re-order rates and higher brand loyalty for those clients that have participated in the initial video consultation.
- However, they also recognise that the actual application of colour at home by their clients is a major part of the process and to maintain loyalty and satisfaction through that they work hard to educate their clients on the right and best way to do this through providing detailed and step by step instructions and videos.
- Their approach to customer service and the retention and advocacy it produces are two of the central elements that are driving the growth of their business.
- Although it helps to start out with a proactive approach that does not mean that you cannot adopt this type of strategy. However, if you do Monica recommends that it has to start with hiring the right people…..people who are active listeners, problem solvers, empathetic with a genuine desire to help others and, also, those that are creative in being able to come up with new ways to help clients.
- Your customers are constantly telling you what they do and do not like. You just have to act on that.
- Your people are the most advanced piece of analytical software that you have access to.
- When it comes to ‘listening’ to your clients/team and their feedback, a key question every company should be asking of themselves is this: You may be listening to what your clients or team are saying but are you really ‘hearing’ them?
Following an early career in education, Monica has become an ecommerce start-up veteran and has now headed up eSalon’s customer service for the last 4 years. She is an executive with a rare combination of both creative and analytical skills that she has put to use across sales, customer relationship management, marketing, strategic and operations leadership.
eSalon is a rapidly growing company that leverages technology and human expertise to deliver a one-of-a-kind hair color experience. They’re disrupting the beauty industry by bringing the high quality, high touch results of the salon to the masses. Part tech. Part beauty. All teamwork.
In 2015, they shipped their two millionth order, ranked #7 on Internet Retailer’s Hot 100 Retailers list, and won the Allure Best of Beauty Award for Best Home Hair Color for the second year in a row.
Instead of helping their customers after they’ve experienced an issue (not something you don’t want to mess around with when it comes to hair color), its customer service team (1/3 of the 80 person company) works with customers from the minute they begin the ordering process on eSalon. This ensures the high-touch experience of a hair salon consultation is successfully achieved online by every client with each order of hair color.