While researching Warby Parker’s use of mobile technology to close gaps in the purchase journey, I came across an article that suggests the brand may not be putting enough focus on its social listening practice.
According to a digital finance magazine article last year, poor customer service reviews about product quality, fulfillment and follow-up are commonplace to the point that positive comments elicit responses like “Wow that’s rare,” and “Are you being paid by Warby Parker?”
Compared to converting an old-school bus into a shop and travelling the country for 18 months to collect data, conducting a sentiment analysis and developing an engagement strategy should be a much easier undertaking for Warby Parker. So, what’s going on?
When I scanned the brand’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, I see lots of engagement between the brand and customers. However, with one exception – a comment about a possibly defective contact lens, to which the company responded – all of the comments are positive. I begin to suspect the brand is filtering their owned social media accounts because when I look at Yelp!, Consumer Affairs and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) I see a different view. On these sites, there are plenty of negative reviews, many of which are unanswered. For a brand that claims to view customer service as a brand promoter and lead generator, you would think responding to unhappy customers would be a priority.
Perhaps ignoring, and allowing these sentiments to amplify, is the reason the brand’s once boastful net promoter score (NPS), which measures customer satisfaction and brand loyalty, dropped from a high of 91 (out of 100) in 2013 to 80 in 2018. Although the dip in NPS hasn’t impacted the company’s estimated value of $1.75 billion, it has to be a concern, especially since the company says it measures NPS more religiously than revenue and appointment bookings. If that is indeed true, I would expect to see, in the near future, the brand dedicating as much effort to social listening and nurturing customers in the “care” stage as it has on finding innovative uses for mobile technology.
If they don’t act soon, they could end up with a full-blown crisis on their hands, and there’s nothing that eats away at revenue faster than a social media crisis. United Airlines, for example, experienced an almost immediate $225 million drop in market value after dragging David Dao from his seat in 2018.
Not responding to negative reviews is clearly not the same as forcibly dragging a passenger from his seat, but the brand isn’t building a reputation of trust and transparency either, which can help shield them if a crisis strikes.
So while the direct-to-customer retailer may be at the top of their game when it comes to using feedback and mobile technology to address pain points and move customers more easily through the sales funnel, the brand’s social listening practice, when it comes to customer satisfaction, retention and crisis prevention, appears to be lagging. When it closes this gap and starts listening, it will truly be the brand to watch.
- Detreville, Lauren. “Bringing into Focus: Warby Parker’s Biggest Mistakes.” Finance 101, Finance 101, 9 July 2019, www.finance101.com/warby-parker/.
- Forte, Daniela. “Click-to-Brick Success Story Warby Parker Continues to Disrupt, Innovate.” Multichannel Merchant, Multichannel Merchant, 21 Aug. 2018, multichannelmerchant.com/ecommerce/click-brick-success-story-warby-parker-continues-disrupt-innovate/.
- Rey, Jason Del. “Warby Parker Is Valued at $1.75 Billion after a Pre-IPO Investment of $75 Million.” Vox, Vox, 14 Mar. 2018, www.vox.com/2018/3/14/17115230/warby-parker-75-million-funding-t-rowe-price-ipo.
- Shell, Adam. “United Airlines Stock Loses Altitude, Sheds $255 Million in Value.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 11 Apr. 2017, www.usatoday.com/story/money/markets/2017/04/11/united-stock-falls/100325694/.
- “Warby Parker.” Experience Benchmarks, 16 Nov. 2019, customergauge.com/benchmarks/companies/warby-parker.
- “Warby Parker’s CEO on Disruption and Consumer Experience.” YouTube, youtu.be/7BFLO6RTr9o?t=16m6s.
Source: Sprout Social. “#BrandsGetReal: Social Media & the Evolution of Transparency.” Sprout Social, 7 May 2019, sproutsocial.com/insights/data/social-media-transparency/#communication-strategies-for-the-transparent-brand.
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