3 Key Learnings From My Visit With One Of The Fastest Growing + Most Loved Consumer Brands In The U.S.

3 Key Learnings From My Visit With One Of The Fastest Growing + Most Loved Consumer Brands In The U.S.

1024 683 Tom Seery

I’m constantly drawing business inspiration from outside of my day-to-day world of medical aesthetics, so when Andy Hunt, the co-founder of Warby Parker, joined our board, I jumped at the chance to spend the day at the company’s New York offices to see what I could learn and apply to RealSelf.

By way of background, Warby Parker is celebrated as a company that was able to wrest innovation from one of the most uninspired consumer goods categories in the U.S.: prescription eyewear. When we think of “disruption,” a lot of us might think of businesses that create never-before-seen products and services. But Warby Parker has managed to disrupt the prescription eyeglasses industry by introducing a simple direct-to-consumer model, plus cool-looking glasses that customers love.

Here are three of the key learnings I took away from my visit.

1. Customers first, and customers everywhere

RealSelf is already customer centric, but Warby Parker’s take on customer focus is all-encompassing. At Warby, the customer is at the center of the conversation always, and for everyone. Teams that would never interface with customers in the normal course of business are required and empowered to do so there–it’s part of everyone’s training and onboarding.

I like this approach because it can ensure that the voice of the customer is always accounted for. The RealSelf product development, marketing and sales teams are already aces when it comes to representing our customers internally. But ensuring back-of-house teams like engineering, finance and human resources are empowered to understand the voice of the customer can help infuse customer focus at the very foundation of our company.

For example, our engineers would be better equipped to execute technologies that consider the people who use our products. Our hiring and onboarding teams could spot traits and skill sets in applicants and employees that can create better outcomes for all of our users. Finance could have a better sense of where we need to make investments that produce value for our users, and so on.

2. Internalizing our brand and customer focus

A brand is a company’s value statement expressed outwardly to its customers, but it’s not uncommon for the brand a company presents to the world to be barely noticeable in its internal culture.

Not so at Warby Parker. They’ve taken their approach to their product and customer experience–straightforward, elegant, accessible–and incorporated it into every aspect of the employee experience, from the layout of their offices to the workflows among their teams.

At RealSelf, we already harness our brand internally, specifically by inviting our employees to bring their real selves to the job. Still, I was inspired during our visit to Warby Parker to think about ways we can double down on this.

For example, in the same way that we enable our users to make smart decisions when selecting medaesthetics providers, I’m going to further democratize access to data internally to help all of our teams make the type of smart, customer-centric decisions I discussed in the previous section. As I consider our near-term roadmap, I’ll think of more ways to borrow ideas from solutions we’ve created for users to enhance our teams’ capabilities on the job.

3. The simple things

Warby Parker leapfrogged its way to its position as one of the top consumer choices for prescription eyeglasses by improving obvious pain points of buying prescription frames that other companies nonetheless missed–or didn’t even attempt. They optimized the customer experience in just handful of areas: price, convenience, and facial fit.

We’re technologists and serious about product and innovation, but in interfacing with our users more frequently and making customer focus everyone’s job, I think we can  identify some simple but powerful ways to increase your convenience, experience and results as you interact with RealSelf.

Moving forward, we’re going to put an emphasis on identifying cohorts among our providers and patients. Understanding how needs start to cluster among smaller groups will let us build products that consider our users’ more acute needs.

In the coming months, RealSelf will be calling on you to help us enact all of the priorities above. Whether it’s a survey, a focus group or an on-site visit, we hope you will voice your needs in order to help our teams create the next generation of products and features that help you find, keep and delight more patients.

Pro Tips
  • By the very nature of what you do, you are in an enviable position when it comes to being able to engage with your patients. You have multiple opportunities to get meaningful feedback: customer surveys they fill out in your waiting room, reviews they leave for you on RealSelf, and the one-on-one conversations you have during consultations, and pre- and post-procedure.
  • Share customer insights widely within your practice–you never know where the next idea to improve your practice’s operations and/or patient experiences might come from.
  • Consider what simple changes or additions you can make within your practice that might be worth their weight in results for your patients. For example, you could email timed post-procedure regimen reminders to patients, which can increase their sense of satisfaction with their procedure.

Tom Seery

Tom Seery is the founder and CEO of RealSelf, the most popular online resource that helps consumers research cosmetic treatments and find the right medical aesthetic provider. Each month RealSelf attracts 10 million unique visitors who view 50 million photos. Another 500,000 people contact doctors and clinics seeking more information or appointments. Integral to RealSelf is a model that showcases the expertise of aesthetic providers. Experts have posted two million answers to questions and routinely upload educational videos, and patient before & after photos. Prior to RealSelf, Tom was a member of the founding team at Expedia, where he conceived a $1.2b private-label travel business, launched the cruise travel line of business, and introduced search marketing long before Google was a household name. Tom sits on the board of ReSurge International, a nonprofit that builds plastic reconstructive surgical capacity in developing countries. He also regularly lectures on innovation and serves on the board of the entrepreneurship programs at the University of Washington. Tom holds an MS from Drexel University, MBA from University of Washington, and BA from Connecticut College. He resides in Seattle with his wife and two highly energetic boys. He is @seery on Twitter or @realself_tom on Instagram, should you wish to connect.

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