Year in Review: Anthro takes good care of us

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Earlier today we talked about the mystifying and frustrating moves Anthro sometimes makes. Now let's talk about the flip side to that coin: some of the awesome things Anthropologie did in 2010 that really benefited its customer base.

Reviews. Without a doubt, the coolest thing to come out of Anthropologie's website redesign is the customer reviews feature. Many brands are scared to let customers write reviews because they fear it will negatively impact sales. Anthropologie has fully embraced reviews though, allowing customers to rate items easily, upload pictures, share videos and distill their thoughts down to pros and cons. Even better, the brand actually reads the customer reviews. My friend Bri reviewed a top that had lost one of its embellished flowers the first time she wore it. Anthropologie's community team reached out to her and offered to either send her a new top or refund her, no questions asked.

Anthropologie prints both positive and negative reviews. I've noticed not all of my reviews get published which is a little weird -- sometimes the unprinted review is negative and sometimes it's positive. I'm not sure what the criteria they use is, but the published reviews represent honest, reliable opinions. Items that have 5 stars tend to be great items. Items that are not so great have star-ratings that reflect that. Bravo to Anthro for incorporating this awesome feature into the website.

Surveys. OK, these are mostly a marketing tool. But I get a secret delight in seeing one of Anthropologie's surveys in my inbox. Earlier this year the surveys seemed to focus mostly on clothing, shoes and accessories. Lately the topics have diversified. About a month ago I filled out an Anthro survey all about social media. It was very interesting and gave me some insight into the way Anthro is heading. (Click on the pic above to zoom and for some sample questions, plus my totally unexpected answer to what my favorite blog is.)

The cool thing is, more often than not Anthro seems to take our advice. I went back and read through some of the community picks for the surveys. Usually the products we like became available to buy while the ones we didn't disappeared back into the Anthropologie vaults. Or wherever discarded designs go.

More social outreach. Last year I made of fun of Anthropologie's poor ignored Twitter feed. My how times have changed! Not only is Anthro's Twitter feed constantly, uh, tweeting, they also have a lively Facebook page that actually announces things of interest like website updates, contests, and in-store events. Many brands use them as corporate mouthpieces, which Anthro does to some extent, but the {awesome} community team also answers reader questions, assembles outfits and responds to customer service inquiries.

This year there's also been more blogger outreach. I have to admit I find it bittersweet because it was fun being the only blogger to work directly with Anthropologie for awhile there. But I understand the desire to work with the whole community of blogs and I'm happy to see Anthro working with all of us rather than against us like some brands do.

Anthropologie's community team is reading every Anthro blog, every @reply to their Twitter and every message on their Facebook wall. I know how time consuming that can be and I think it's great that they reply to 99.9% of requests, inquiries and complaints. Kudos to them!

Opening their doors to fans. In August, Philadelphia-area Anthro fans got quite a treat: an invitation to Anthropologie's corporate headquarters to screen an episode of "Man Shops Globe" with Keith Johnson and guest star Anna Sui. Most retailers don't open their corporate headquarters to the public...although most retailers don't have such beautiful headquarters! Additionally, all of Anthropologie's corporate leadership team was there, mingling with Anthro fans before and after the screening. The event was such a delight to attend. I'm still tickled all these months later! Usually events like this are media only, closed to the public, blah blah blah. Anthropologie opened its doors to us and threw a wonderful party. It could not have been done better.

In-store events. On a related note, I noticed a sharp uptick in the number of in-store events at Anthropologies around the country this year. What a wonderful thing this was! Who doesn't want to be invited to a cool after-hours event at their favorite store? The parties had food, drinks and plenty of staff on hand. Plus Anthropologie continued their awesome in-store workshops, from cardigan re-workshops around Earth Day to gardening events over the summer to pet adoption events throughout the year.

If the goal of these events is personal interaction they really hit the mark. It is through one of these parties that I found out about Anthro's personal shopping service, which I use often. I do wish Anthro would do party favors. I love party favors! But aside from personal greediness I think their parties are wonderful.

Customer Service. Yes, it really makes a difference to have good customer service. And as far as I'm concerned, Anthropologie is tops! I have 5 personal styling clients and on their behalf I deal with boutiques, department stores, luxury brands and mass market retailers. Guess which brand is consistently the best to deal with? Anthropologie. I help a friend who is a wardrobe maven for a TV show do costume shopping. We go to every store you can think of in NYC. Guess which store consistently has the best service? Anthropologie. Whether it's for myself or someone else I just love shopping here! Obviously a big piece of that is the product, which I love. But an equally significant part is the service I receive.

Anthropologie's SAs are friendly, knowledgeable and willing to go the extra mile. It makes a difference! Anthro's phone CS staff is polite, and while they may not always have the right answer they make every effort to find out the answer for you. It makes a difference! It's clear that Anthropologie's management team cares about its customers and listens to our feedback from emails, phone calls and store reports. It makes a difference! Right now the team seems slammed so response is a bit slow. It's still 1,000 times better than most retailers I deal with. I hope Anthropologie never lowers the importance it places on customer service. It's one of the key differentiators that keeps me shopping here.

What do you think community? Any topics I missed?