Everyone talks about the iPhone, Facebook, and Twitter all the time. We all know they are great and cool, and they deserve their accolades. What about the multitudes of others out there, though? Those less frequently praised products and services working hard and doing a fantastic job supporting some of life’s everyday tasks? Don’t they deserve some recognition too? I think so.
One in particular that I personally rave about is Coastal Contacts, an online retail store for contacts and eye glasses. I have been a customer of Coastal Contacts for about ten years now, almost since they came into being. From the beginning I have been impressed, though at first I was just looking for the cheapest avenue for my contacts, having decided that 1-800 Contacts was just not worth the cost. Coastal Contacts’ “customer first” philosophy helps them to consistently make updates that strategically and iteratively enhance and improve the experience; successfully paying off in revenue and growth.
For instance, I recently received an email reminding me that my contact lens supply was running low. This is apparently a new “feature” and everything about this was brilliant. For starters, it was the right timing for a reminder; I had, in fact, only the day before checked my supply and realized that I had just a month remaining. I’m horrible at remembering this myself and usually scramble to place a last minute order.
But it’s not just that I don’t have to keep track myself anymore which makes it brilliant, it’s also that this email is personal and says that Coastal Contacts has my interests in mind. They are telling me they are going to do the work for me, and that they know ME because they know my prescription and the recommended wearing schedule. More than ever I feel like we have a relationship, and amazingly, one that apparently continues to grow after all this time.
This email also had a link to the Coastal Contacts “Express Refill” functionality. The whole concept of “Express Refill” is great all on its own. It allows me to reorder exactly what was ordered last time without having to reenter any of the information, all that is required is to confirm the selection. I remember thinking, “this is exactly what I wanted them to do next” when this first rolled out. If I wasn’t hooked before, they had me permanently now.
“Express Refill” also shows that Coastal Contacts knows how to get the right base set of functionality and experience out the door and incrementally take steps towards expanded capabilities. When “Express Refill” first came out it maintained the prescription information, but not the doctor information. Coastal Contacts obviously understood the priorities of their users; that I would more easily remember my doctor’s name than my prescription. So I was happy. They gave me something valuable, even if it was not complete. When they rolled out the additional functionality to maintain the doctor information as well, it just was icing on the cake of an already great experience.
Coastal Contacts has also begun to take advantage of new web technologies and social media in their efforts surrounding eyeglass sales. Virtual tools to show how frames will look, user generated videos, and referrals play a major part in these efforts. Their Facebook Fan Page is also quite a successful venture and a way to keep customers engaged. In fact, they have even convinced me to “like” them because of their continuous “free glasses” campaigns, and I don’t do this lightly.
Coastal Contacts may not be a site I use on a daily or even weekly basis, but their dedication to stellar user experience and innovation makes them cool to me as a customer and keeps them in the forefront of my consciousness. This isn’t an easy status to achieve for a product or service like this, which could be considered niche.
Understand your market and users and commit to doing what you do–which face it, for most businesses isn’t what Apple does–well, innovatively, and with clear strategy and you could be cool too.
What would that mean for your business?