In business, timing is everything.
On September 4th, The Bridal Collection team received a message from a soon-to-be bride, let’s call her Annie. With her wedding only two weeks away, Annie was in panic mode.
Until that point, Annie had felt nothing but excitement for her wedding. She’d always been a planner, and had even purchased her wedding dress a year prior. Everything was planned, scheduled, ordered, and rehearsed. Except one detail—Annie had just realized that her dress no longer fit.
Annie isn’t alone. Planning a wedding is complicated, and there’s a lot of pressure to perfect every detail. Lynn Crandall, President of The Bridal Collection, understands this better than most. Lynn doesn’t just sell dresses, she creates memorable experiences. Whatever the bride’s preferences, her team will set up a charcuterie board, high tea, yogurt bar, mimosas, or something similar.
“We give them a private suite where they and their guests can sit and visit,” Lynn told us. “They’re assigned a bridal stylist who gets a sense for the bride’s hopes and dreams.” Most brides have been picturing this moment for years. It’s a business that leaves little room for error.
Once a dress is chosen, Lynn’s team does on-site alterations. Custom work isn’t easy, so occasional issues do arise. But for every 100 happy customers, Lynn might have one who leaves unhappy after experiencing a hiccup in alterations. Unfortunately, that unhappy customer is the most likely to leave a review.
Three problems. One solution.
In 2016, The Bridal Collection had an average review rating of 4.5 stars. Although not bad, Lynn knew that those ratings didn’t reflect the quality of her customer experience. She started searching for the source of this gap between reputation and reality.
Problem One: Bad timing made for some negative reviews.
Lynn noticed that customers weren’t leaving a review until after they had picked up their dress. But the moment they were most thrilled was after the gown viewing appointment.
As mentioned, Lynn’s team puts a lot of thought and care into making the gown viewing party a memorable experience for the bride and her guests.
Since her customers almost always leave ecstatic after the gown viewing appointment, wouldn’t that be the best time to ask them for a review? What if Lynn’s team could send the bride a text invite to leave a review directly following that appointment?
Problem 2: Giving feedback isn’t always easy.
Lynn noticed that most of their negative reviews were regarding custom alterations. She learned that, more often than not, these customers were unhappy simply because they didn’t feel comfortable voicing their concerns in person. She’d heard these customers say things like, “I didn’t want to hurt your employee’s feelings, but I thought she was hemming my dress too short.”
“We’d get a phone call from mom two weeks later saying that the bride was stressed that we didn’t do the alterations right,” Lynn told us. She started to think about that. Why didn’t the bride feel comfortable saying anything? Why was her mom the one calling two weeks later?
That’s when Lynn got an idea. What if her team could send the bride a quick text after the alteration appointment? “Our goal was to get feedback right after the appointment,” Lynn told us. “That way, we’d know for sure that the bride didn’t have any concerns.”
Problem 3: Letting leads fall through the cracks.
In the past, Lynn had tried a different chat solution on The Bridal Collection website. Her hope was that it would be a non-threatening way for customers to start the buying process. But it didn’t turn out that way. “It was robotic,” she told us. “It was a fail.” Lynn wanted her website to bring customers in, not drive them away. Her online traffic wasn’t turning into foot traffic.
Saying yes to text.
After some searching, Lynn stumbled upon Podium. With Podium, her team has been able to solve all three problems.
First, they were able to automatically send a review invite through text just after the bride left her gown viewing party—while she was still on cloud nine.
“We started getting a flood of five-star reviews.”
Second, they were able to send a text message after the alteration appointment to give the bride a non-threatening chance to voice any concerns.
Finally, they were able to use Podium’s online chat tool to turn website visitors into paying customers.
This is where Annie re-enters our story. If you remember, her wedding was only two weeks away, and she was panicking. She had sent a message to Lynn’s team through the website rather than calling or dropping in. Why? Because she was too embarrassed about her situation to do it in person or over the phone.
Within minutes, Annie had an appointment set for that same day. “I’m so grateful you were able to squeeze me in,” she replied to Lynn’s team. “See you soon.” Annie went in, got her dress fitting just right, and left relieved. When she got home, she found a review invite in her text inbox. She clicked the link and left a five-star review. But more importantly, she got the wedding she’d always wanted.
“We won by being able to chat her back immediately. It was awesome.”
On second thought, maybe timing isn’t everything. You have to reach your customers not only at the right time, but also where they spend their time—in their text inbox.