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Diapers.com uses customer service to woo baby market

Originally launched by two frustrated fathers who grew weary of those late night car trips to find diapers and baby supplies, Marc Lore and Vinit Bharara started a baby-focused e-commerce site known as 1800Diapers. Running with their mission statement, “to make moms’ lives easier by delivering all the necessary baby products in a timely manner with great customer service,” innovative marketing plans and an investment of a few hundred thousand dollars, the name changed to Diapers. com ready to run the race for a share of the huge baby market.

When the company first started, the owners would buy diapers from BJ’s and Costco to resell online and lose money on every sale, but as the business evolved, the company widened its baby inventory and became “everything about baby.” Inventory expanded from diapers and wipes to formula, baby food, cribs, car seats, clothing, strollers, etc. with exceptional prices, 24 hour service, 7 days a week, overnight delivery and free shipping on “everything but the baby.”

So how do they do it and now rank as one of the fastest growing retailers in the US ? It started with purchasing massive quantities (huge diaper loads) from all major manufacturers like Proctor & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, etc. The company has three state-of-the-art warehouses in Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Kansas and can buy and offer bulk sizes that most stores do not have the capacity or shelf space to house. The company has developed software explicitly designed that allows it to ship orders the same day until 6:00 PM  and has negotiated discounted rates with the major shipping carriers.

And to accompany the super-sized quantities, the company offers and delivers unmatched customer service. The prices are low, no questions asked for the return policy, 99% in stock merchandise, and 2/3 of the US are able to have merchandise delivered overnight. The web site is divided into 13 different categories with over 100 subcategories, ad free, and personalized shopping. The site also offers a referral program with cash incentives, and the customer service toll-free phone numbers and contact information are easily accessible. The company has been named an “elite” online retailer by STELLA Service, and received the STELLA Service Seal, the web’s most coveted and dependable hallmark for exceptional customer service, online tools and strategies and processes to deliver exceptional customer service.

This  week Diapers.com will be launching a whimsical commercial promoting the company with talking babies in a test trial for the St. Louis market. Babies will be wearing headsets, talking to callers and discussing the products – all thanks to special effects. Should the campaign prove successful, Diapers.com plans to send the commercials national. And so the rewards of exceptional customer service continues to push another business to the top.

photo credit: EtanSivad

Customer focus customizes Rite Aid services

Competition among pharmacy retailers and the need to create more efficient business plans are  a sign of the times. Ten years ago, everyone still had a local pharmacist who would fill prescriptions, give a little professional advice and while mother was at the store, she would buy mascara, shampoo,  a sun visor and aspirin.

Mega-stores such as Wal-Mart and Walgreens have pushed pharmacies to new heights in innovative ideas to keep their customers and attract new ones, hence the age of new conceptions as the  Rite Aid  “Customer World Store.”

Rite Aid’s slogan, “With us, it’s personal” had executives redesigning existing stores and planning to remodel, relocate and build between 800 and 1000 stores in a five-year plan starting back  in 2005. The stores were all designed and recreated using the feedback of customers and customer focus groups that had been developed. So what did customers say they wanted? Solutions were derived from the two most important questions:

  • How did customers rate the various services?
  • How important are each of these services?

Customers overwhelmingly asked for easy ways to find what they were looking for at any visit. Everyone has had the experience of walking into a store with a list of what they wanted to purchase, and upon entering the store had been so overwhelmed by confusing layouts and designs of the store, they quickly got discouraged. Using the customer focus groups, the company was  able to concentrate on targeted problems consumers faced, and with that in mind was able to expand merchandise selection, easier store navigation and create a professional feel at the pharmacy that made customers feel more comfortable and secure.

The customer focus group wanted wide and clutter free aisles. In the waiting areas for the pharmacy, they wanted the experience to be more personal and intimate; thus the new design of the section with lowered ceilings, comfortable chairs, televisions and a consultation section for private meetings with a pharmacist. Online shopping has been partnered with drugstore.com to provide more pharmacy service at all different times. Other improvements suggested by the groups included a separate vitamin department, picture center with digital user-friendly equipment, self-service kiosks and stools, and a drive through pharmacy.

The latest store which opened in Edison, New Jersey yesterday has followed the suggestions of the latest focus group. With more than 14,000 square feet, the new store features direct views to each department, more visible department signs and at center stage, a brightly displayed presentation of cosmetics designed to appeal to female customers.

Listening to the customer, adjusting to the needs of the customer and following through on a practical plan to show the customer that they do indeed matter reflects the importance of something more than just a corporate mission statement. The implementation and the fresh approach to enhancing customer satisfaction goes a long way.

photo credit: Rite Aid

Post Office to measure customer essential services

The postal service receives no federal tax money for support; it relies on services, postage, and the sale of products to reach every address in the nation. The postal service has more than 36,ooo locations in the US and has been named the Most Trusted Government Agency for the past five years by Ponemon Institute.

The US Postal Service has launched a new Customer Experience Measurement. Although no company name has been released as to who will be doing the assessment, customers will be able to rate the four most important elements of postal services. They are:

– Receiving mail
– Sending mail
– Visits to the post office
– Contacting the post office for services and assistance

    In the 1990’s, measurement of services was done by questions to both residences and businesses, but had not been broken down into specific service divisions. Also the measurements were done by the US Postal Service. This time, an independent company will be employed and separate ratings will evaluate the four identified elements consumers have deemed the most important.

    A large part of postal complaints concentrated on waiting in lines. Customers just don’t like to wait and equate poor service with long lines, but customer lines seem to come sporadically. The post office does hire extra help during the holiday seasons, but they are  still limited by the amount of  work stations. Long lines happen when customers come in during their lunch hours, but postal employees are entitled to eat lunch also … even if times are staggered, chances of a full staff are lessened and the downward economy has affected using more part-time employees.

    The US Postal Service employs 596,000 employees and serves millions of customers. It operates the nation’s largest retail network; in fact it is larger than McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Wal-Mart combined. The US Postal Service participates in many community projects ranging from feeding the hungry, breast cancer awareness stamps, community outreach programs, as well as  sharing  in social responsibility. Last year, the Postal Service honored 202 employees as heroes.

    While the US Post Office will always have room for improvement, community groups like the Postal Customer Council, which strive to make service more efficient, get the most of the mail, and improve mail services, are important steps working  to improve customer relations and service. Consistent measurement assessments and surveys will help the US Post Office address the current needs and trends of their customers. It’s a step in the right direction.

    Statistically from October 1 to December 31, 2009, 86.2% residential and 81.3% small and medium-sized businesses were very satisfied and mostly satisfied with the sending and receiving of mail. Delivery service ranked very high at a 95% satisfaction rate.

    photo credit: bryanwright5@gmail.com

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