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Great Customer Service Makes for Great Customers

October 26, 2009 15:18

I’ve had two great customer service experiences in the last twenty four hours, and it’s reinforced how critical it is to treat your customers with care and respect.

The first was with winebid.com. My dad’s 75th birthday is next weekend and we’ve been racking our brains trying to dream up the perfect gift. He’s a pretty big oenophile and a pretty big Francophile, and I just finished The Billionaire’s Vinegar, which has me all excited about old wines – as long as they’re real.

I found a bottle of 1934 Chateau d’Yquem (the year of dad’s birth) on winebid.com at a great price, but of course wanted to know everything about the bottle: What’s the provenance? Is that color typical? Can you see the vintage and chateau on the label? I sent a long list of questions to their customer service address, and crossed my fingers.

24 hours later I received a personalized, detailed response to every single question posited. I was so impressed with the thorough, first-person response that I immediately wrote back and thanked them! And they wrote right back again, stating:

Thank you so much for the kind words!  Though the product we deal with is very detailed and laborious, it is our mission to alleviate as much concern as possible associated with our buyers to ensure consumer confidence.  Most of our clients (both buyers and sellers) are repeat customers and we aim to service them the best we can.

If at any time you have questions regarding any lot in our auctions, please don't hesitate to ask.

 

Well, this made me WANT to buy a nice bottle of wine from winebid.com. Which I did! I won the auction for the Yquem yesterday (yippee!), and called this morning to ask that they ship as soon as possible to make sure it’s here in plenty of time for the birthday party. The customer service rep. looked at the weather, talked about how she wanted it to ship in plenty of time for the sediment to settle in time for the big day (which never would have occurred to me!), and then said “OK, it’s shipping today!”.

I will tell everyone I know who loves wine that winebid.com is the place to go, and I will absolutely be bidding there again.

 But, as much as I wish I was, I’m not bidding on 75-year-old bottles of wine all that often, so I’ll only appreciate winebid.com’s customer service once in a blue moon. What am I doing every day, or at least every week? Buying shipping supplies from ULINE!

Today I placed a large order for 3 different box sizes, and shortly after realized I’d ordered too few. I placed a second order but my account page didn’t update, and I didn’t receive an order confirmation. About 10 minutes went by (I’m one impatient cookie) and then my phone rang – it was a rep from ULINE calling to confirm that the order wasn’t a duplicate I’d placed by mistake. Now, ULINE has thousands – maybe tens of thousands – of orders a day. And yet they’ve created a system to flag questionable orders *and* allow a human being to follow up with them within minutes!

And I’m just a small potatoes customer today. But you never know what I’ll be tomorrow.

So, kudos to winebid.com and ULINE for making a loyal customer out of me! I hope to do the same, and I want to hear from my customers on how you think we’re doing here at Makaboo!

 


Yes We're Still Here! Now We're Coming in November

October 19, 2009 08:39

It's been a crazy month! Had a wonderful trip to San Francisco to catch up with old Snapfish friends and attend a gorgeous wedding in Napa. Then chaired a fundraiser last week for St. Louis ArtWorks. And there's that silly day job that keeps getting in the way.

I'm very sad to say that today we're going to change the "Due in September" message to "Due in November". I appreciate everyone's patience! And thank goodness for friends and family orders and walk-ins! We're basically covering our operating costs while we ramp up to go live. It's all exciting! And sometimes a bit overwhelming.

More to come!


You Burp Up On It, You Buy It

September 18, 2009 15:10

I had my first "you burp up on it, you buy it" experience this week with my friend Catina Callahan O'Leary and her darling little one Evan! I'm pretty sure they were going to get the hoodie anyway, but it's always fun to have that kind of seal of approval.

Having a store-front has taken this business in such an unexpected direction. I chose high-end, well-respected manufacturers like Kissy Kissy and Angel Dear precisely because my online customers won't be able to see and touch the product in three-dimensions. But for those who do come in to our shop in St. Louis, they almost always say they bought more than they were expecting to and would online. Perhaps there's a Makaboo Pacific Heights and a Makaboo Rye in my future!


I'd Better Figure Out How to Spell Entrepreneur Now That I Am One

September 11, 2009 12:15

On Monday I'm speaking at an entrepreneurship class at St. Louis University, taught by fellow entrepreneur Tim Hayden, who I met on Twitter! I also think I'll be speaking later in the fall to a class at my alma mater, Washington University in St. Louis. And possibly at a WASHU Women's Society function as well. All of this is further evidence that I really need to learn how to spell the word entrepreneur. Doesn't it seem like the E and the U should be reversed? "En-tra-pre-nu-er". Right??? No wonder I keep getting it wrong.


Moving Makes Makaboo Sad

August 19, 2009 18:15

Well, it's been a long time. Bill and I, without even *thinking* about being on the market, have managed to find ourselves a gorgeous house in the Central West End, where I grew up in the heart of St. Louis, MO. We closed on July 21st, and just got our old house on the market this week.

We share an alley with my brother Doug and his amazing wife Jen and three hilarious girls (who grace this very page!), and have already met some wonderful neighbors. Within a 2-minute walk are a Starbucks, a Companion Bakery, a wonderful market, 3 sushi joints, 2 gelaterias, great Indian, Mediterranean, Brazilian, Thai, Vietnamese Mexican and pizza joints, and about 4 of my favorite high-end restaurants. We are in food heaven, which makes up for the box hell.

Makaboo has suffered, and so has this blog! I am ramping back up now and hope to have good news about the beta site launch in the next week or two.

Thanks to EVERYONE - especially Makaboo's neighbors around Washington Avenue who have been so patiently awaiting the site launch! We are accepting orders by email and phone now and I'd love to help any of you with the perfect, personalized baby gift.

Until then, it's back to unpacking. I need to remember my own motto: life is yours for the making - time for me to make this house AND this business boom!


Makaboo Makes $1,000 in Sales - And We Haven't Launched Yet!

July 23, 2009 19:27

Last Monday the 20th we passed $1,000 in sales; I consider this a great benchmark since the site hasn't launched yet! Many thanks to my friends, family, and a number of strangers who have already supported this burgeoning business! I can't wait to report the next milestone.


EV SSLs: Making That Address Bar Green Costs Some Green!

July 14, 2009 16:01

I've realized that I trust sites more inherently when their address bar is green. My bank's site (Bank of America) has it; PayPal has it; Gilt Groupe has it; Neiman's does not, but of course I shop there anyway (and yes, I had to do some thorough "research" to gather this data - can't wait for that Tracy Reece halter to get here!).

Turns out that simple green shading is called an EV SSL - short for an extended validation secure socket layer. Since it makes such an impact on me when I shop online, I figured it does for others too, and decided we should implement it on Makaboo.

Now, this is the first time I've secured any kind of SSL myself, so I can't vouge for how much of a pain it normally is. What I can tell you is that securing my EV SSL has required about 6 hours of my time; 2 of my attorney's, at least 3 of my developer's, a silly number of emails and phone calls, and about eight hundred green backs. When they say "extended validation", they mean it! I think the regular SSLs should be called TSCBTA, for This Site Could Belong to Anyone.

As of today we were finally approved; it remains to be seen whether it was worth the time and effort, but at least *I'll* feel warmer and fuzzier when shopping at Makaboo.


Who Says Twitter’s Not Useful? (Ooops – I Did!)

June 24, 2009 18:18

OK, I stand absolutely corrected on Twitter; about 6 weeks ago I wrote a blog entry about what Twitter can really do for small companies like Makaboo.

Since then:

- I’ve met with @timhayden, a Saint Louis University professor about speaking to his entrepreneurship class this fall.
- I’ve been followed by fantastic mom bloggers like @creativemoms and @mommylovesit, who are excited to test out the Makaboo site and tout it if they like what they see.
- I’ve connected with phenomenal women business owners like @JeanetteMcLeod who have more great marketing ideas than I can squeeze into this blog of mine, much less dream up on my own.
- I’ve been followed by local and national media contacts, some of whom are already asking about when they can start covering the site.

My favorite connection so far is the ab fab @jackrabbitbags, who is not only the designer of some of the most gorgeous bags I’ve ever seen but has also been a bastion of great info on getting product into the hands of celebs, placing the right coverage at the right time, and having fun while building your biz. AND now I have a handbag in; could a girl ask for more?

Twitter: I thank you, I salute you, and I understand why I can’t live without you.

You can follow me @cindyteasdale (still working on the @makaboo squatter issue; I didn’t say Twitter was perfect).


Lovies and Blankets and Burp Cloths, Oh My!

June 16, 2009 21:24

We've been busy completing some orders for friends and family while also getting the site up and running. Here's a sneak peek of what's to come; these are a few gifts we created over the weekend.


I think the Angel Dear Pillow Pals will be HUGE sellers. We had my nieces down to the shop for Mothers Day and they both chose their own Pillows (for Ava, a bunny; for Kate, a frog) as well as thread colors and fonts, and have been sleeping with them ever since!


On view here are also a Swaddle Designs Stroller Blanket, and two sets of Swaddle Designs Baby Burpies featuring two of our exclusive, Makaboo Original Icons.

Please excuse that the photos were taken around the at-the-time messy shop with my iPhone!

Angel Dear Puppy Pillow Pal

SwaddleDesigns Baby Blanket Personalized     SwaddleDesigns Baby Blanket Personalized

SwaddleDesigns Satin Trimed Baby Blanket Personalized


Makaboo In iPhone Photos

June 5, 2009 10:40

One of the biggest surprises in the Makaboo adventure has been our decision to bring the embroidery production in-house. While I know a lot about building web sites and fun Flex applications, I know very little about embroidery machines and software. It's been a huge but exciting learning curve.

When we decided to bring the embroidery in-house, we realized that we needed to build out a space for a production shop (versus shipping directly to a fulfillment provider). It just so happened that my husband Bill was looking for a renter for a small ground-floor space in St. Louis' Washington Avenue Loft District. The next thing I knew, I was the proud tenant of a 500-square-foot storefont at 609 N. 13th Street, 63103.

Bill has been supportive of Makaboo from the beginning, but, to be perfectly honest, neither of us knew entirely what we were getting ourselves into. Since building out a space was not in my budget to begin with, we had to do everything ourselves.

And by we, I mean Bill.

Bill did everything from overnight trips to IKEA to priming and painting, and from installing the tricky flooring to building custom splash-boards for the cabinetry (I bet you $100 he will tell me that's not what they're called). One day he showed up with planters and mandevillias (I think) for the front door. He made the space so adorable, and he worked so incredibly hard. All because he loves me and supports me.

So, this post is for him. Dawn Shields, our fantastic lifestyle photograher, is coming in later this month to do some press shots, but until then, these iPhone photos will have to suffice!

Bill, you are the most incredible man and I thank the universe every day for allowing me to be your wife. Thank you for everything you do for me, and for Makaboo!

Bill-McGowan

 Embroidery-Machine

Supplies

Storefront

Flooring

Washington-Avenue

Completed-Storefront



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