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The start of a beautiful friendship

Written by Donna Kelly on Friday, 07 February 2014. Posted in Start-up Diaries

Success comes easily when you put the customer at the heart of everything you do, says Donna Kelly, co-founder of Dressipi

The start of a beautiful friendship

We have a fundamental belief at Dressipi that we are not in the business of selling our customers a product, rather that we are helping them solve a problem. It’s a significant difference in approach; the former is a more ‘build and ship’ style, while the latter is more customer-focused. 

For customer-focused businesses, a lot of work goes into understanding the need or want and being obsessive about responding to that. It doesn’t really matter if you are a direct-to-consumer business with millions of customers or a business-to-business operation with fewer and more complex clients. It’s our belief that putting your customer at the centre of everything you do creates a more rewarding and successful relationship for both parties.

That said, we certainly understand that it is not for everyone and there are plenty of successful businesses that give less attention and consideration to the customer.

A customer-centric approach can be costly both in time and resources. For the best chance of success, the entire team, business and operations need to be aligned and focused around the customer. 

Take our business as an example. We have two types of customers: the consumers who use our fashion fingerprint to help them find clothes that flatter and fit them and retailers who implement our technology in order to improve conversion and basket size in their e-commerce operations. These customers have different needs and, because we need to maximise satisfaction for both of them,  the alignment and effort can become a little more complex. 

With our retail partners, where no two businesses or business goals are the same, it is vital for us to understand them at a very deep level. We need to know how the organisation works in the wider context. We have to have an intricate knowledge of the internal challenges faced by the team we are working with and what success looks like for them. Once we know all this, we can work on giving our retail customers the tools and assistance they need to demonstrate value in the language that will be understood by the wider business. 

When it comes to end-consumers (both the users of Dressipi’s own consumer service and the customers of our retail partners) the focus is much less about goals and more about experience. Successful consumer businesses focus on delivering features and products that enhance people’s lives by responding to a genuine need. It was that need which we identified among women like us – a way of solving the problem of finding the right thing to wear for the right occasion – that led us to set up Dressipi in the first place. 

Let’s face it, a customer focused business is not a radical approach but it’s also not for the faint hearted. But the good news is that it’s an approach for which start-ups exhibit a natural advantage. When you’re starting from fresh it’s much easier to structure your values and culture around the customer than it is for a larger, more established organisation. 

But if you have the willingness to embrace it, in our opinion, a happy and satisfied customer is what it’s all about. 

About the Author

Donna Kelly

Donna Kelly

Kelly is one half of the talented team behind Dressipi, the enterprise at the heart of our all new Start-up diaries. Kelly and co-founder Sarah McVittie evenly balance each other out, with McVittie bringing the start-up skills, with her sales and shareholding expertise, and product- and detail-focused Kelly packing the corporate capability.

And it’s not only their passions in the workplace that complement each other –  McVittie prefers to let off steam by hopping on her motorbike, whilst Kelly prefers to spend her free time brushing up on her piano playing.

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