The story of Diamond Candles is priceless—it’s one of those head slapping “Why didn’t I think of that?” tales that has a happy outcome.
The Big Idea
Brenda Cayton, owner of a regional construction company in North Carolina, came up with a killer idea for a candle company. What if she put together a company to create scented soy candles and every candle had a beautiful ring inside that revealed itself like a little present as the candle burned? And what if each ring might be worth anywhere from $10 to $5000?
She kicked the idea around, and decided to give it a try. Having no prior experience in the candlemaking business, she asked her friend, Justin Winter. who had e-commerce and marketing experience, to help turn the idea into reality.
Optimism and Spunk
Justin remembers,” I had marketing experience, I had done website design, and I had worked for a small startup. I knew the terrain—and my research showed that the candle industry was a $2 billion a year industry. I was a bit nervous about scented candles. My wife was more of the candle person in our family because I have allergies and my sense of smell isn’t the best.”
So our intrepid troupe began to learn about the candle industry. They did some research, got a logo and branding, set up their shop on Shopify, and created a Facebook fanpage. The team kept it simple—organic growth and a very conscious concentration on customer service.
They launched on Valentine’s Day this past spring . . . and guess what? Sales from the first day! Off and running!
“Within 3 months we were growing so fast that we had outgrown email support,” says Justin. “We looked at several popular options, but Assistly had by far the best interface both on the admin side—and the customer-facing FAQ and article database were just what we needed for an active community. And Assistly has the social web in their blood more than any other option out there.”
As of November, Shopify and Assistly work together. Store owners can access Assistly easily through Shopify’s Apps Store.
Climbing Out of Support Overload
“Before Assistly, we had one period when I was just buried in requests for information. I was simply overwhelmed! If those same customers needed help now, 95% of those questions would be answered through our customized Help Center. In fact, there are questions we don’t even get any more, because of Assistly and the Help Center. ”
“Between Shopify’s great order system, and Assistly’s great customer service system — we have a very smooth operational process. I come in and print out our orders, and the team gets busy filling them.”
Customer Service and Community as Competitive Advantages
“We knew from the beginning that customer service would be a top priority. We looked at our competitors, and realized that there was an opportunity to engage customers and turn them into fans and evangelists. We saw that we could really leverage social networks with minimal investment. We have very active Facebook and Twitter communities.”
“Now we’re beginning to see fans chip in and write up tutorials and evocative descriptions for us. We knew that as people had a Diamond Candle experience and saw the quality, that customers would come back again and again—and that turned out to be true—we have a high percentage of re-purchasers. We take every opportunity to engage, and to exceed expectations. We love how accessible Assistly makes the Help Center—how easy it is for non-technical people to use. ”
Editor’s Note: This fall, Diamond Candles won the 2011 Spike Award for the best use of social strategies across the product lifecycle. Justin says they are adding to their support team, and planning a Get Satisfaction integration to move community up a notch. They are also celebrating the holidays with new community-suggested scents, including: Mistletoe, Cozy Cabin, Fresh Snow, Christmas Tree, and Gingerbread Latte. Check out the Facebook page to see social genius in action.
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