It’s been a busy six months for Fledging on Amazon. We went from 0 customers to 1000 customers in under 5 months.
A significant part of Fledging’s focus is to delight our customers. Fledging’s mission is to provide premium electronics to everyone. We believe we can’t do this without delighting our customers by offering a level of service not often found in the hardware industry.
Of course, we’re not always perfect. The last six months have taught us a lot about delighting our customers, so we’re sharing some of those lessons here in a discussion with Max and Ethan from our team.
Who is Max? He’s our Director of Growth! He built the Amazon platform from the bottom up to its 1,000th customer in just about five months. His next challenge is to apply lessons learned to further build out fledging.net for scale.
Who is Ethan? He’s our Amazon eCommerce Manager! He took over Amazon from Max in June just in time for Prime Day. Almost 600 customers have joined the Fledging family in the month he’s been on board and he’s working to grow the platform even more.
What exactly does “delighting your customers” mean?
Max: If I had to tie it to a theme, I would say it is “surprise”. Delighting a customer is all about doing everything that is expected and then some. It is important to make sure you are doing all of the foundational aspects of customer success correctly and then identifying unique and fun ways to surprise and delight the customer further. This could be something as small as a handwritten note thanking a customer for their purchase.
Ethan: I think it means effortlessness. The best customer experience is one where they visit Amazon, find exactly what they need right away, order it with two clicks, and it shows up a few days later as promised. The best way to delight a customer is to make the process work for them the first time.
What are some of the surprising or unexpected lessons learned?
Max: The importance of a robust purchasing pipeline. When we started seeing our Amazon store take off, I established ad hoc meetings with our purchasing manager. With where growth currently is, we are doing weekly meetings to make sure our proposed purchasing matches the demand.
Ethan: Most surprising is the huge range of customer issues that come up. Things that seem simple to me might not be obvious to a customer, and vice versa. Plus, we’re managing a lengthy supply chain that absolutely has to end with the right product showing up to the right place at the right time in the right condition. So I’ve been learning a lot about how to make our customer service process as robust as possible.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Max: Keeping up with growth on the platform at times. We saw 3x growth from March to April which spread me very thin running the platform. It took a team effort between purchasing, operations, and other teams to ensure that we were able to keep up with the growth.
Ethan: Each situation is different. We work hard not to take a copy/paste approach to delighting our customers. So it takes time to understand exactly what they need, maybe to figure out what they’re asking for even if they don’t know it themselves, and to provide that in a way that satisfies them.
If you could jump in a time machine and visit yourself in January, what would you tell yourself?
Max: I would say, “these experiments will pay off, keep moving forward”. I had experience selling on eBay in a previous project of mine, but never on Amazon. I had to learn and act quickly. I followed a balanced approach of researching best practices and experimenting with them to find what worked best for our brand.
What do people get wrong about customer service?
Max: It is the most important aspect of a business. If your customers are happy with your product, they will tell others who will buy and be happy, and so on. The importance of this showed when I was able to win over an old customer who ran into an issue with their product by how much they loved their experience working with our team. Simply put, customer service is a key differentiator in today’s world.
Ethan: It’s not about “processing” the customer and moving on. Every interaction is a chance to delight someone, to add a lot of value to their day, and to impress them. Some of my most frustrated customers turn into 5-star reviews and repeat customers, if they end up happy with their experience. That can’t happen if I’m trying to work through a queue of customer requests as fast as possible.
What makes online customer service unique?
Max: A lot of it is message based with incomplete information. We work with hardware which has its own set of customer service nuances and sometimes our customers don’t know exactly what the issue is. When you work in online customer service, you learn quickly how to ask the write questions to get the information you need and reassure the customer that you will get their issue resolved along the way.
Ethan: Has to be the communications. We don’t usually get to sit in front of them, so they can’t hear us being friendly. And the Internet can feel like a black hole when you’re submitting a customer service request. So we have to go above and beyond with timeliness, clear communication, and trying to understand how to solve their request as well as possible. You don’t get a lot of second chances on Amazon.
For Max – what lessons did you learn while transitioning the platform?
Note down everything. I knew that I would be on the platform for only about six months or so to get it started so I wrote down *a lot* of notes. If you don’t believe me, ask Ethan as I shared them all with him. This is crucial for establishing internal best practices and processes that can also be repeated at scale. Training Ethan only took a couple of weeks and I attribute a lot of that time saved to the notes that I kept while running the platform.
For Ethan – what lessons did you learn while taking over the platform?
It’s not a new lesson but it was definitely emphasized – the importance of process. Max did a great job building processes that help me achieve our goal of satisfying a customer as well and as fast as I can. If I had inherited the platform without great processes, I’d be in trouble and we wouldn’t be at 1,500 customers.
Where is Fledging’s goal of delighting its customers headed from here?
Max: Pursue the same mission of providing premium electronics to everyone at scale with many more delighted and happy customers along the way.
Ethan: Make “Customer Delight” the standard in the hardware industry.