As the largest contact lens retailer in the United States, 1-800-Contacts knows quite a bit about its loyal customer base and views customer experience based on customer insights as the ultimate point of differentiation.

Founded in 1995, 1-800-Contacts snared the Platinum Award in the Customer Insights category at the third annual Loyalty360 CX Awards Tuesday at the 6th annual Engagement & Experience Expo presented by Loyalty360.

For 1-800-Contacts Marketing Manager Thomas Rohrer, nothing takes the place of that traditional and highly valuable one-to-one contact.

“There is no better insight than a person’s direct comments,” Rohrer said. “We’re inherently a highly human-centric company. The key question we ask is: Is there anything we can do to make your experience better? We’re going back to our roots, trying to make these personal connections again.”

Rohrer noted some of today’s customer experience challenges:

Technology allows you to serve more customers, faster, but one-to-one interaction is often lost.

Analytics focus more on reporting than actual implementation−tendency to aggregate the customer as an entity.

Organizational Structure: The bigger the company, the farther removed the decision-makers are from the front lines.

Reward adherence to specific roles and tasks focus on efficiencies and financial ROI.

Rohrer noted the following quote from Jonathan Coon, founder of 1-800-Contacts: “Customer retention is what drives us. The real value in this business is the reputation we build. Contact lenses are just the product we deliver. What we really sell is service.”

Rohrer said 1-800-Contacts “made it personal” and reached out to its customers by asking the key question: “What can we do to make your experience better?”

“To create a big impact, take a personal comment and ask how we can act on this to impact in a big way,” Rohrer said. “The reactions are extremely positive.”

Here is a sampling of those reactions from customers of 1-800-Contacts:

“Wow! I didn’t expect a phone call back from the survey. Thank you so much for following up! I didn’t want to be a bother.”

“You guys are awesome! I really appreciate you taking the time to say something back.”

One longtime customer offered this tongue-in-cheek response to the question:

“Ship a chocolate candy bar with the order...or a coupon for a free chocolate candy bar...or a milkshake!! Just kidding! You guys already nailed it.”

Referring to the last comment, Rohrer said company officials wanted to do something to honor this longtime customer for his loyalty. Since Rohrer said he didn’t know what specific kind of chocolate candy bar the customer wanted, company officials got 15 different kinds and shipped them to the customer.
Unfortunately, between the time the company received the comment and the time the candy bars were delivered, the customer had a death in his immediate family. Rohrer said the customer sent a message, thanking 1-800-Contacts for thinking of him, especially during such a difficult personal time.
Rohrer offered the following advice for marketers, when it comes to delivering a personalized customer experience:

Increase direct and meaningful connections with customers

Create more one-to-one interactions (human to human)

Reinforce a culture of helpfulness

Both the customer and the company have an actual voice / face / name

Generate internal and external excitement around what makes us feel good (It energizes the entire organization)

The Loyalty360 CX Awards recognize the pinnacle in customer-centricity. Using cutting-edge technology and creative strategy, honored brands are leading customers down the path to loyalty.

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