Every now and then, I wonder how companies stay in business. I see so many companies operating on the principle that the way they’ve always done things is the only way they can be done.
This leads to the bad side of marketing–convincing people they need something just because the company has a bunch of it in stock.
But then I try a new company like Warby Parker, and my faith in American business swells.
Warby Parker is a new company. I first heard about it last year on Business Insider. Since then, they’ve grown, but they’ve managed to keep their start-up, friendly feel. Here’s the purpose:
A collaboration between four close friends, Warby Parker was conceived as an alternative to the overpriced and bland eyewear available today.
I just got a pair of prescription Wilkie glasses for $95. For comparison, the pair I bought from a local eye chain last year cost $395.
Warby Parker’s Wilkie
While the price and frame selection are great, the service is what sets Warby Parker apart from the standard retail experience.
Ordering online is simple, fast, and fun. But I’m a sometime marketer. What floored me was how they handled little issues with my order.
For instance, my prescription allows for bi-focals or progressives. Warby Parker doesn’t do progressives, so they sent me a note. If you’ve ever received a customer service email about an order from a big company, you might expect something like;
“Unfortunately, we cannot fill prescriptions with your particular needs. Thank you for considering us.”
Vague messages like that please legal departments. And management. They don’t disclose a company to . . . problems.
But Warby Parker lets real people write their emails. My message sounded like a real human wrote it. In fact, her name is Christina. And, instead of evading the problem, Christina went straight at it–with solutions:
Thank you for your order with Warby Parker! We really appreciate it.
I have a couple of quick questions before I process your order. Upon verifying your prescription, I noticed a “+1.25 ADD”, which indicates that you might wear progressives or bifocals. Now, a bit of bad news: I’m afraid we are currently unable to offer progressive or bifocal lenses. But don’t frown yet—I have a few other options for you!
Option #1: We can make your glasses for use with distance vision using the current prescription you provided.
Option #2: We can make your glasses as prescription reading glasses with the “ADD” value.
Option #3: We can send you a pair of frames with replaceable demo lenses at a 10% discount. You can take these frames to your local optical shop and they will replace the demo lenses with your prescription lenses.
Real solutions. But that wasn’t my only problem. My Rx lacked my pupil distance . . . or something. Again, a friendly solution:
Also, in processing your order we noticed that we’re missing one number from your prescription. It’s the pupillary distance (PD), which is the distance in millimeters between the centers of your pupils.
Luckily, it’s a cinch to get! Visit pd.warbyparker.com, follow the instructions at the bottom of the page and send us your results directly from the website once you’ve completed the measurement. (Please make sure to submit results using the email address associated with your order.)
So I followed the link, measured my pupils, and got a confirmation that all was well.
Next, I got cheerful messages that my order had shipped–right on time.
This all happened during the holidays and lousy weather across the country, mind you. And I still got my glasses on time.
Even the anticipation was exciting. Well, maybe not for my wife. She’s a teacher, so she’s been home for the break and snow days. I asked her 15 times a day if the mail had come, even when I knew they weren’t due. But that’s because I have issues.
And the packaging is awesome. You feel like what’s inside is worth a lot more than $95.
An iPhone-like outer box, a great clam shell case, a soft bag, and the glasses.
Plus, like Tom’s Shoes, Warby Parker donates a pair of glasses to someone in need for each pair you and I buy–at great prices.
When I find a great company like Warby Parker, I’m glad I majored in Business. And it kind of makes me feel sorry for people who don’t wear glasses.