Weekend Vibes

Weekend Vibes, Edition No. 90: The One on Customer-Centricity and Business.

By: Jen Shoop

My Latest Snag: The Bow Sweater.

I guess I truly am #BowJen, because I just snagged this Zara sweater, which is strikingly similar to this covetable Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini style.  (I sang the virtues of this new-to-me label and provided a couple of other affordable options in the post-script here.  Do note that Intermix jut reduced the prices on a bunch of the label’s products, including this versatile and chic sweater.)

You’re Sooooo Popular: The Jumpsuit.

The most popular items on Le Blog this week:

+My favorite jumpsuit ever.  I own it in red but love the white for a winter white moment!

+A tie-neck blouse to wear with…everything.

+A major footwear statement on sale.

+My tree skirt.

+Chic shearling mules.

+Thanks to you all — my new favorite candle.

+Well-reviewed, affordable leggings.

+This on-trend sweater was just restocked.

#Turbothot: Not a Good Look.

I recently observed the founder of a business drag her feet when a customer expressed an interest in purchasing one of her products.  It was as if the founder couldn’t be bothered; the customer blinked her eyes in confusion and hesitation before the founder begrudgingly went off to ring up the sale.

I was astounded at the interaction, on so many levels.

First: as a business owner, the customer comes first, and the customer is always right.  When Mr. Magpie and I were selling software, we bent over backwards to assuage every concern our customers had.  If they complained that something wasn’t working as it should, we took the feedback seriously and investigated carefully.  I can’t tell you how many evenings I passed with my stomach in knots as I worked with our engineering team to resolve reported bugs and snafus — and this from a software that was built very cleanly, I have to say.  (Our founding engineer went on to work for other incredible tech companies like Tock.)  I would often pace my kitchen, groaning, as I’d wait for the latest release to come through.  When I’d triumphantly alert the customer to the fix, or to the clarification at hand, I was usually met with a polite “thanks,” sometimes days later, if at all, even when the original missive had been urgent to the point of fear-inducing.  Though this reminded me — humbly — that no one will ever care as much about your product as you will as its creator, I didn’t mind the lukewarm reaction.  The point was this: good, prompt customer service is and should be the north star.  If you fail at all else, at least be kind and honest to your customers, as they are — literally– your raison d’etre.

I should add that many times, we were internally frustrated in such circumstances because we felt the product was working as it should — or that it was, at a minimum, working for us, locally, on our machines — but we always swallowed our pride, apologized, and worked to correct or explain.  I often see businesses and even fellow bloggers express frustration when, for example, customers are trying to use a product as it was not intended to be used, or readers are trying to access a particular feature of a site on mobile versus desktop and finding themselves unable to do so.  I wring my hands in agony at the exasperated responses of the business owner, wanting to say: if a customer is using your product, LET THEM USE YOUR PRODUCT, EVEN IF IT’S NOT AS IT WAS INTENDED TO BE USED.   The greatest innovations are born this way: it’s why we’ve enjoyed tools like Flickr, for example, which was a concept originally built into a video game.  The game was a dud, but people liked the photo-sharing tool and began to use it in isolation.  I believe technologies like Pinterest and Slack have similar origin stories: designed to do something quite different, but forged into something more useful and powerful in the hands of its users.  The point is this: if the bulk of your customers are trying to use your site or tool in a specific way, there’s no point in fighting it.  Embrace it.  Build with it.  Build for it!  Let them dictate your roadmap.

And so there was a kind of righteous rage that emanated from my pores as a former entrepreneur myself.

“How dare she,” I found myself saying to Mr. Magpie that evening, as I recounted the interaction.  Maybe it’s because Mr. Magpie and I went through the seven layers of hell and battled something like depression after coming to the decision to shut down our business, but I was glowering.  For this woman to have the good fortune of customers banging on her door, and to treat them with such peremptoriness?

No.  I won’t accept it!  And if I were a pettier person, I would mention the brand by name here.

I’m sorry to take this entrepreneur to task today, to unveil myself as occasionally haughty in my observances of others, but it wasn’t a good look.  (Probably for either of us.)  The experience did, however, force me to check in with myself.  It made me face some of the resentment I have over our decision to shut down our business.  It made me recognize that sometimes my loudest knee-jerk reactions are thinly veiled jealousies: how could she be succeeding with such a backward orientation when it comes to customers when we had to move on from our business and I felt we were doing everything right?

And so there was a little bit of reckoning to be had.  Maybe I overreacted a little, transposing my own angst onto this unsuspecting entrepreneur.  Maybe I need to let go of some of the residual emotions from our business.  Maybe the entrepreneur was having a bad day.  Maybe the customer had been a pain in the ass.  Maybe maybe maybe.

What do you make of it?  It’s OK if you tell me to simmer down.  Maybe I need to hear it.  HA!

#Shopaholic: A Chic Holiday Dress.

+This chic holiday dress was just marked down — quick!  Almost sold out!

+These monogrammed cachepots are SO GOOD.  Love the monogram style show in the main picture!  I might buy one of these and stow a rosemary tree or boxwood is in the center for my own table — or as a gift for a friend.

+For those of you with minis in ballet: I have had good luck with the products from the line MdnMd on Amazon Prime for ballet basics, and they are super affordable!  I especially like this and this.  Traditional, simple styling, nothing frou-frou, and I’ve even thrown them in the wash with no problem (probably a no no).

+Anthro started carrying my new favorite pajama line for minis!

+If you also love the look of this Zimmermann sweater but not the price, check this out!

+This is a good fallback for that last minute holiday gathering you forgot about and don’t have a thing to wear to — inexpensive, plaid, and forgiving.  Pair with black tights and booties.

+These custom table skirts are an easy way to disguise something old and hideous, transforming it into something intentional-looking.  Thanks Mackenzie for the tip — p.s. how incredible is her dining room?

+This chic Ganni blouse just went on sale!


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3 thoughts on “Weekend Vibes, Edition No. 90: The One on Customer-Centricity and Business.

  1. While I agree that #bowjen is a thing, I always think of you of #neonjen (or some variation of big bold color!).

    Your post today reminded me of a mentor’s words: the person you hate the most is often the person you are most envious of…channel that jealousy into inspiration. That being said, we know that it’s not always that simple, so I admire your restraint in not saying something then and there!

    1. (Although, this former nickname might be more influenced by my recent perusing of the Magpie archives! I clicked on a link on a postscript that led me down a rabbit hole *insert see no evil monkey emoji here*)

    2. You are so right, Veronica. My reaction was laced with a kind of bitterness and envy from our experience. No, she shouldn’t have behaved as she did, but I also think I overreacted! Thanks for writing this. And HA – yes, I have been #neonjen, #pasteljen, #bowjen, and many more iterations…maybe #extrajen?

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