Exceptional customer service starts with genuine understanding
For Nadia and Stevie, it’s natural to put the customer at the centre of everything Active Truth does. After all, they don’t merely understand what their customer wants; they want it too.
The Brisbane-based business evolved out of their own personal frustrations over buying activewear online as new mums. “We’d order these products that would look great on the website, but then we’d get them and they’d be see through or they wouldn’t stay up while we were working out,” explains Stevie. After talking to friends, they learned their experience wasn’t unusual – in fact many women, particularly those who wore ‘larger’ sizes, were left dissatisfied with their purchase and discouraged by the whole process.
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The outcome, launched in 2016, is Active Truth: a brand that caters to all active bodies, welcoming customers who may have previously felt excluded from the entire category. What’s important isn’t merely what customers get from the brand, say Nadia and Stevie, but how they feel: recognising that the whole experience of buying activewear can come with baggage.
“One of our business values is empathy,” explains Nadia. “We work to educate our customers and understand their needs to come up with the best outcome for them, not just sell a product. Often this involves conversations on sensitive subjects or personal information, so it’s important they feel comfortable and supported during this process.”
When product and service combine
Of course, empathy may endear people to a brand, but converting warm sentiments into sales requires something else: an exceptional product.
The seemingly-endless scroll of thrilled reviews on Active Truth’s website offers an idea of how much customers appreciate their purchase. “These leggings are AMAZING,” exclaims Teara Z. “Best tights,” says Felicity R. “Perfect, perfect fit,” says Sascha B.
And none of this, explains Nadia, is down to chance. “Most clothing brands base all of their size patterns off a size 8, then scale up.” But not Active Truth. “We get samples across our size range and try them on real bodies and make changes to each pattern to ensure a perfect fit.”
The result is a product that makes customers feel great – and that, of course, colours theirentire experience of the brand.
“Everyone knows the feeling of opening a parcel and either being elated or disappointed with what you find inside. By providing an exceptional product we are delivering on our promise, and build customer trust and loyalty.”Nadia Tucker, co-founder – Active Truth
Or as Eva K puts it in her review, “I won’t buy tights from anywhere else now.”
The D factor: delight
Of course, sometimes things don’t go so smoothly. Leggings don’t fit, colours don’t suit, or customers are simply unsure which product to order.
That’s where Active Truth’s legendary customer service comes in, across an array of channels: email, social media, live chat, and the old-fashioned telephone. “Our team will often call a customer to resolve an issue or provide sizing advice,” explains Nadia. “And we look to implement best practice policies within the constraints of a business our size. For example, a generous returns policy,” she says.
Regularly reviewed, these policies continue to evolve as the business grows and perks can be scaled – free worldwide shipping, for example, wouldn’t have been viable in the early days, but today makes good business sense.
The key is engineering delight into Active Truth’s daily operations: creating processes that make exceeding expectations go without saying.
“We give the team an allowance to put towards surprising and delighting customers. For example, they might add an extra product or a handwritten note to an order when we know it’s someone’s birthday.”Nadia Tucker, co-founder – Active Truth
From customer service to community experience
With over 45,000 Instagram followers, many of them outspoken in their love for the brand, Active Truth provides an case study in converting individual customers into a community of fans. “As a small business, word of mouth is our most powerful and cost-effective marketing tool,” explains Nadia.
The secret to creating great word of mouth, in this sense, is to facilitate a great customer experience all round – not just within the parameters of the individual transaction. “The [social media] content that we post connects with our followers through shared values, and by refusing to photoshop our models and showing a diverse range of women, they see that we are honest, trustworthy and approachable,” Nadia says.
This sense of connection is especially important given the arms-length nature of online retail – especially in a category as personal as activewear. “We have built an amazing community of like-minded women around our social media accounts. We love not only the connection we have with our community but the connection they have with each other,” explains Nadia. “People will jump in and answer customer questions before we do, or chat about the different products they own.”
Measuring sentiment – and smiles
But even with glowing reviews, prestigious accolades (a 2018 Telstra Queensland Emerging and Energised Award among them) and thousands of happy advocates ready to sing the brand’s praises online, Nadia and Stevie aren’t resting on their laurels.
After all, in the world of customer service there’s always still work to be done – and that begins with monitoring how customers feel.
“We ask every customer for a review post-purchase. We read every one of them and will regularly follow up for more detailed feedback – both the positive and negative.”Nadia Tucker, co-founder – Active Truth
Having grown to a staff of six, the team take stock of their customer interactions every week, identifying what could be improved – and what ought to be celebrated. “Our most positive customer conversations are sent to the entire team for the ‘smile file,’” explains Tucker.
The team has also conducted a customer survey measuring qualitative insights as well as a net promoter score – the degree to which customers would recommend the brand to friends. This doesn’t just provide a snapshot of how customers feel – it means sentiment can be tracked over time, to measure the Active Truth experience as it evolves.
Because truly excellent customer service isn’t just about the short-term feels: it’s about the long-term relationship.
About building trust, delight and a sense of total comfort.
Much like a great pair of leggings.