Company News

Service Talks: Fireside Chat with Mara Castro from Warby Parker

On Tuesday, July 26th, StellaService co-hosted an evening event with Stella Connect client Warby Parker. Since its founding in 2010, Warby Parker has disrupted the eyewear market with its quality products, affordable prices, and customer-centric approach to service.

The event was held at Warby Parker’s stunning office space in the SoHo neighborhood of New York City. Turnout was strong, with attendees from companies including Travelzoo, Chanel, Shutterstock, and Betterment, among others. Attendees had an opportunity to network with each other before the evening’s main event – a fireside chat between Mara Castro, Director of Customer Experience at Warby Parker, and Jordy Leiser, co-founder and CEO of StellaService.

Mara Castro from Warby Parker Fireside Chat with StellaService

The discussion began with a quick introduction to the history of Warby Parker, both as a brand and as a customer service organization. Castro was the company’s first employee, and was initially hired to work just 15 hours per week. In the early days, the Warby Parker customer service team used a shared Gmail inbox and Google Voice accounts connected with their mobile phones to connect with customers. Since then, the organization has evolved enormously: while online sales are still a huge area of focus, the company has also opened 31 retail locations in the US, and plans to expand its physical retail presence to Canada this year. As brick-and-mortar stores have blossomed, the first employees tapped to work in each physical store have often been individuals who had previously served as associates in the company’s contact center (known as Advisors). This helps create a consistent and seamless omni-channel experience.

With such rapid growth, how does the Warby Parker team manage to retain its focus on delivering outstanding customer experiences? According to Castro, service is woven into Warby Parker’s DNA – it’s at the core of the brand, and has a huge influence on the hiring and training processes that have been implemented over the years. Through a program called Customer Connection, every new employee at Warby Parker is required to play the role of a customer, experiencing both the Home Try-On program that the brand offers as well as initiating a web order. Employees are encouraged to share their experiences with the team, and their feedback is used to make continuous improvements to products and processes.

In addition to solid new hire training, Castro mentioned that Warby Parker works hard to ensure that every employee remains engaged throughout their tenure. The company promotes from within as often as possible, and has a structured progression plan in place for Advisors. As Advisors advance within the company, they’re given latitude and allotted dedicated time to work on special projects that help propel the company’s success. The most senior Advisors even have the opportunity to create their own projects based on what they perceive as the greatest areas of need within the company.

In addition to the establishment of clear career paths, another key to engaging and retaining top talent at Warby Parker has been their use of Stella Connect. Prior to implementing Stella Connect, Advisors received feedback only in scheduled reviews based on QA assessments. With Stella Connect, 60% of all feedback requests are receiving responses, and Advisors have real-time access to customer comments, including praise for jobs well done and constructive criticism when interactions fall short. Castro said that for her, having all of this additional unbiased feedback directly available to Advisors is the most exciting part of using Stella Connect.

Using Stella Connect transformed the QA process for Warby Parker, allowing them to reduce resources needed to evaluate the quality of interactions.

Of course, within any company – and especially one that’s growing as quickly as Warby Parker – it can sometimes be difficult to justify the expense of a new system or tool. When asked how she made an ROI-based business case for Stella Connect, Castro said the math was pretty simple. Using Stella Connect transformed the QA process for Warby Parker, allowing them to reduce resources needed to evaluate the quality of interactions. Additionally, the social sharing feature of Stella Connect makes it easy for Warby Parker customers who have been delighted by Advisors to share their positive feedback on Facebook and Twitter. The earned high-value impressions garnered by these social shares are a huge value add from a marketing perspective, which helped make Stella Connect an easy “yes” for the team.

Overall, the inaugural Service Talks event was a huge success, and we thank Mara and the Warby team for sharing such helpful insights. We look forward to hosting more of these events in the future.