Differentiation in eCommerce is becoming incredibly difficult competing on product alone.
Why is this?
Because we’re living in an age of commoditization where it’s never been easier to start a brand, but as a result of the low barrier to entry, it has never been harder to build a company.
There is an absolutely critical distinction between these two so let me reiterate it for our readers: starting a brand is easy, but building a brand is incredibly difficult.
That sets the premise for today’s article, and our special guest and good friend of mine, Sven Jakelj, CEO at Feey.
Last Autumn, I spent some time at their headquarters in Switzerland helping to recreate their email marketing strategy and learn about their business.
In this masterpiece, we’re going to take an in-depth look at Feey’s overall retention and brand strategy with commentary and supporting images from Sven.
Let’s dive in.
1: Product is always king
Good retention always starts with first providing an excellent product. If you’re not solving an actual problem for your customer or fulfilling a desire, your baseline retention level will always be low.
What strategies should you deploy to find out more about how customers are using your products?
Use my good friend Juliana Jackson’s Jobs To Be Done (JTBD) framework and then act upon the insights to feed everything from your positioning to customer experience:
- Why did you buy our product? What did you hope to achieve?
- Was there any hesitation in buying? If so, why? If not, what gave you the confidence to buy?
- How did the product meet or exceed your expectations? Were there any surprises?
- What difference have the products made to your life? Have you already noticed a difference?
2: Great customer service is second
Feey takes a proactive approach to delivering an exceptional customer experience, taking a proactive instead of reactive approach.
Whereas most brands see customer service as a cost centre, Feey sees it as a key retention lever and point of differentiation they lean into heavily.
Sven explains their approach:
“It’s very hard to actually get a few seconds of a customer or potential customer's attention. In support you have it - so use it!
How we get tickets: offer free plant doctor support, consultations, etc. and we ask for feedback, a lot! E.g. 2 months after delivery: is your plant still feeling good? If not, our support reaches out. and, obviously we also have normal support questions regarding delivery etc.
Goal: Getting a “wow!” from every ticket. Solve problems and provide as much value as possible. Be human, fun and do a bit more than someone would expect.
Our customer success team also sends Looms, uses Facetime or just calls people like in the old days.”
Feey’s Plant Doctor collects rich customer data and is used to get customers to engage with the brand to deliver an exceptional experience
3: Unboxing Experience
The unboxing experience is a sensory moment for the customer that often leaves a lasting impression.
Everybody is searching for the “Apple experience”, and for good reason too: memorable unboxing moments instil strong mental assets into the mind of the consumer that are easier to recall when they weigh up their consideration sets.
Here’s how Feey go to the next level with their unboxing experience:
When I visited Feey’s headquarters in Switzerland, I was blown away by the level of attentiveness they put into each and every order. And yet, the processes were still very lean and efficient.
This permeated the whole culture of the organisation, with fulfilment staff regularly examining Shopify transactional notes and writing personalised notes with every single order.
Here’s what Sven had to say about this strategy:
“The unboxing experience is one of the highlights of the customer journey, meaning you should build your fulfilment to deliver an outstanding unboxing experience while still being very efficient.
For us, culture plays an important part to get it right. Each and every employee knows the value they provide to this very special moment of our customers. One element to show all our logistics and fulfilment personnel their added value is the “wow-collector”, a company chat where we share the best reviews and feedback from customers.
The unboxing experience has a few highlights of which one is the personal note: Our staff uses the Shopify notes of customers to get information about the customer relationship. With this information they write a personalized note. It takes about 1.5 minutes per order. Considering the impact the small note has on our customers, the time spent is more than worth it. (And yes, we have a few people writing these notes :)”
5: Find ways to entertain your customers
Feey constantly think outside-of-the-box with unique ways to delight and entertain their customers.
Sven shares some examples:
“Once a customer had to wait 2 weeks for a special plant our team ordered for him. They told him that he must be the most patient customer we ever had. He than asked if he will get a trophy for being #1. Our customer success team then bought a trophy for him, put a note onto it and shipped it together with the plant!
Once a girlfriend of one of our customers “stole” his plant when they split up. Our team then wrote an ownership certificate for him and sent him a few additional plants together with his order.
For both extraordinary efforts the customers sent us a big thank you letter. Sometimes we even get cakes etc. delivered to our offices from customers. Such event we then share in the “wow-collecter” so the whole company knows it.
These acts are obviously very time consuming, extraordinary actions, ensuring that our “normal” effort for all other orders is already far above average compared to others. This is why we not just allow such actions but even try to encourage them."
6: Be human
Everybody makes mistakes, and Feey have played on being more forward-facing at a founder level to build real authentic relationships with their customers over the years.
They frequently document mishaps and learnings from growing the company as well, something that has endeared them tremendously to their audience.
“We do have a video series called “couch session” where we talk about all kinds of f**k ups of the past. We obviously have a lot of them and at some point decided to just share them.
People know that not everything is always perfect. Sharing these events makes you more relatable. And it is fun :-)
- We once ordered boxes which were 1 cm too long/high. So for every shipment we had to pay an extra fee to the post office.
- We once lost a memory card after a 3h video shooting.
- Many more…”
7: Branded Events
Feey has made significant investments into offline events, going as far to invite customers to their headquarters to talk about their history as a company and brand mission.
Sven shares how valuable these events have been:
“We look at our customer base as a pyramid. Customers go from bottom to top. With every positive touchpoint, customers go higher. Physical events are mainly for the customers at the top of the pyramid - the superfans.
By now we do offer company visits, plant courses at the headquarters or 1-2 community events. At the community events the goal is to entertain customers as much as possible. It should be a very special day for all of them.
During the last event we had many different stations set up for all guests. At each station members of our team told them part of the Feey story, showed them how we repot and pack plants, what our next products look like etc. at the last station, I was responsible for the grill and made burgers for everybody."
Conclusion: Go the Extra Mile for Customers
If there is one lesson I took away from my experience in Switzerland with Sven and his team, it’s that going the extra mile for customers will always be a winning long-term strategy to differentiate you from the masses.
You’ve got some excellent ideas from this article. Now get out there and be as reactive as possible implementing them!
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