Warby Parker design, manufacture and retail spectacles (eyeglasses), mainly on the internet. They only started just over four years ago and have already sold more than 1 million pairs of glass, with an annual turnover estimated to be more than $100 million. This article about the company at first appears to be about why an commerce company has just opened its ninth retail store – explaining that the physical presence of shops reinforces the life-style image of the brand. This makes the servicescape and design of the stores extremely important.
But then the article goes on the explore why this company appears to be outperforming other similar ecommerce ventures. And here it seems that their brand management and marketing skills play a key role, as does the leadership skills of the company’s two founders. So what is the OM angle? The answer is that the article then explores Warby parker’s approach to customer service. This has some distinctive features.
First, their call centre staff are all young, recent college graduates. Being a call centre operative is the entry level position for anyone wanting to go into management in the company. Being graduates, these staff are well paid, but this expense is justifiable for two reasons. Warby Parker needs bright, intelligent customer service staff to reinforce their life-style brand, and their spectacles are a medical product that requires a reasonably sophisticated understanding of the biology of the eye and the technical aspects of the product.
Second, there is a strong organisational culture, with the founders setting the tone. It is very much performance driven. Every employee completes a report every week on their performance and plans for the following week., Every six months they have a performance review, which includes rating their manager and some co-0workers on their performance.
Finally, although this is an internet-based company, they encourage dialogue with their customers – hence their 100-strong call centre. But this is reinforced with “customer-response videos”. These often on a few seconds long and posted to the customer on Twitter. Their social media team has produced 2,000 of these so far.