1-800-CONTACTS Brings Voice of the Customer Into Focus

Customer Service
Customer Service
Customer-centric efforts have enabled the contact lens store to develop stronger emotional connections with its customers and create memorable experiences.

Like many other companies, 1-800-CONTACTS had a voice of the customer program in place for several years. However, the world's largest contact lens store didn't have a closed-loop process in place for acting on the customer feedback it collects. Although company leaders analyzed customer feedback and tracked trends with customer issues, managers for the company weren't responding to customers or sharing with them what, if any steps, had been taken to address their concerns.

But that all started to change in late 2014 when company leaders were in the process of updating the company's customer experience strategy and began looking more closely at data generated by its 8 million U.S. customers. "We saw this huge opportunity using the Qualtrics tool to track and directly respond to people's input," says Neil Wieloch, director of marketing strategy and insights at 1-800-CONTACTS. "If people are willing to fill out a survey and identify things they want to have improved, we should be willing to address that," Wieloch adds.

This shift to a more customer-centric philosophy coincided with other changes that were occurring within the company. Since the company's founding in 1995, 1-800-CONTACTS has grown steadily, adding layers of management and processes and was publicly held for a time before going private again in January 2014.

During that time, "much of our business had been focused on the numbers when we were public," Wieloch says. "But then when we became privatized again, one of our senior executives asked what we stood for. We felt like we were getting further away from what we do best--connecting with our customers."

At the core of its VoC initiative, 1-800-CONTACTS has focused on making each customer experience both special and memorable. One of the ways it has done this is by adding the following open-ended question to its revamped customer experience survey: "Is there anything we can do to make your experience better?"

1-800-CONTACTS has taken these requests to heart and has tried to exceed customer expectations whenever possible. For instance, one loyal customer who requested a candy bar was immediately sent a box of candy bars. Not only did this customer express excitement that his voice was heard, he also became a vocal fan for the company.

A different customer requested a pizza which was delivered to his home that same night. Another customer requested a blanket for a surgery patient which was also delivered promptly.

These and other customer-centric efforts have enabled 1-800-CONTACTS to develop stronger emotional connections with its customers and create memorable experiences. For instance, roughly 10,000 customers are receiving hand-written thank-you cards for their patronage from the company's executive team each week.

The VoC initiative also helped 1-800-CONTACTS to become more responsive to its customers through the different digital channels the company uses to support them.

"One of the things we realized for our first-time customers is that the amount of information they need to enter about their contact lenses can be pretty overwhelming," Wieloch says. To help make the process easier, the company is designing a new path on its website for first-time customers "so that there is more high touch and handholding," Wieloch adds.

These types of customer-friendly approaches have helped 1-800-CONTACTS boost its top-line revenues. For instance, the hand-written thank-you card program has seen an average increase of 3.8 percent in product reorders. That works out to an extra $4.50 per reorder for roughly 30,000 orders per month or an additional $135,000 in revenue per month.

Meanwhile, the company's Net Promoter Score has jumped 13 points since the launch of the initiatives.

"We haven't really looked at what the (overall) financial impact has been," Wieloch says. "We did it because it's the right thing to do."