MAD Week: A Little Birdie Told Me How To Keep Customers Coming Back

The tit sits on one's hand. People feed the bird.

Jane Cay from online retailer Birdsnest told MAD Week’s Customer Conference the essence of success is understanding how to solve customer problems.

Nikki Majewski
Posted by Nikki Majewski

Any good piece of business advice will start with a meet-cute.

“I fell in love with a farmer and moved to the Snowy Mountains,” says Jane Cay, the founder of online retailer birdnest.com.au at yesterday’s MAD Week Customer Conference. It was here, in the town of Cooma, that her independent businesses was launched back in 2008, and it has gone on to become one of the biggest online apparel stores in Australia.

Today, the business employs over 100 birds, 80 per cent of its revenue comes from repeat customers and Birdsnest boasts an NPS score of 97.

So what’s the secret to this bird’s success?

“I realised I wasn’t in the business of selling frocks, I was in the business of solving wardrobe dilemmas,” says Cay. “The essence of success I believe is understanding how to solve your customer’s problems and really knowing what problems they have.”

A lot of Birdnest’s growth comes from customer experience. “It’s dinner party conversation where the girlfriend will tell the girlfriend,” says Cay.

“Our customers tell us very intimate things about themselves; their body shape, whether they have big boobs or big hips. We can use that information to recommend the best product for them.”

The true understanding Birdnest have of their customers is a result of Cay having to “think outside the box”.

“Living in a town of 8000 people and not having a lot of marketing dollars to throw around forces you to think differently and be adaptable,” Cay explains. “The Internet has redefined how women shop.”

Cay is passionate about inspiring confidence in her customers and discovering new ways to solve their wardrobe dilemma’s using the latest technology.

Birdsnest has created a unique online shopping experience where customers have to option to shop by colour, occasion or body type. The website allows you to create a profile where you can share any concerns you might have, list your favourite brands to wear (there are more than 300 to choose from) and a member of the Birsdnest team will contact you directly to recommend an outfit to suit your shape and style.

Another “out of the box” trick Birdsnest uses to keep their customers coming back is focusing on the little things. “One of our customers recently had a baby, so we sent her a little gift with a hand-written letter to make her feel special,” says Cay. Her advice for bigger businesses, who she believes “gets it” is “when in doubt, be generous to your customer… it’s those tiny things that equal your brand and how people feel about your brand,” She says.

It’s the intimate connection a brand has with a customer that keeps them coming back and that is “imperative to business success,” explains Cay.

But this founding bird admits the key to customer connection begins with your team. “While the customer is leading the way, it starts by loving your team.  For me it’s about truly loving and trusting your team – do they want to wake up in the morning and come to work? – If you’ve got a team doing that, then every touch point is going to have a positive experience,” says Cay

Cay plays a vital part in the interviewing process of prospective employees. “We try to find out what they are passionate about – if they can achieve their personal goals and we can help them do that, then we know they are going to be great and passionate and genuine with customers,” explains Cay.

Cay admits having the right team means Birdsnest are truly able to engage with the customer. “This is the foundation of our growth,” she says. “Are you solving your customer’s problems differently and better that someone else? If you are then they will come to you to solve you again.”