The key to delivering truly exceptional customer experiences? Believe in your product.
Ecosa: A masterclass in delightful customer experience
I recently had one of the best customer experiences that I have had in a very long time. Possibly in forever. You know that warm fuzzy feeling when a company, product, communication, customer service and everything else aligns so perfectly that you honest-to-god can’t think of a single way it could have been improved?
Yeah I didn’t either until a few weeks ago.
For the past few years, I’ve suffered from a mildly irritating but slowly worsening lower back problem. It’s not a big deal, and for the most part is pretty much dormant, but flares up any time I happen to spend more that 6 or 7 consecutive hours in bed, leaving me with a dull ache in my lower back that can be hard to shake. Up until recently it was firmly in the ‘annoying enough to be a pain in the ass (or back), but not quite enough of an issue to motivate you to do anything about it’ category. That changed a few weeks ago.
The final straw was two weeks of pretty much constant lower back pain that meant waking up every hour or so all through the night, struggling to get comfortable and getting grumpier and grumpier with each sleepless night. After putting up with it for so long, I decided that I had to do something about it. I also decided that it was nothing at all to do with me getting old, and everything to do with my mattress. It was second-hand, and must have been a good five years old when I bought it three years ago, making it a prime scapegoat for my woes. Having never slept on a brand new mattress before, and with a rapidly developing appreciation for just how important a good night’s sleep is , I decided that at the ripe old age of 34 it might be a good time to treat myself…
My initial research involved the usual department stores and big box retailers here in NZ, and turned up pretty much what I was expecting; an overwhelming amount of choice, very little helpful content or feedback, and a huge discrepancy in prices for seemingly no reason, ranging from just a few hundred bucks, all the way up to just shy of $14,000. Yes, that’s right. Three zeros.
Before completely resigning myself to the hell that is dragging the whole family around various malls and department stores on a busy weekend, being mercilessly pursued by sales people hungry to hit their target, I thought it wise to check out the alternatives. As with any industry, I figured there must be at least a few companies out there doing things a little differently. Surely not everyone still buys their mattresses the old-fashioned way? Maybe I could find some disruptive start-up, hungry to change the world of sleep for the better?
And that is how I discovered the unbelievably unoriginally named ‘mattress in a box’ industry. Don’t be put off by the lack of any kind of creativity in the naming though, because holy shit have these folks nailed it. I don’t work for a mattress company, but if you do, you should be worried because these folks are coming for you. Their product is incredible, their customer service is outrageously good, and their products are a fraction of the price of traditional mattresses.
If I was a mattress salesman I’d be seriously considering new career options right now.
There are a good few contenders out their offering the same mattress in a box service, but after doing a little more research, a company called Ecosa had the best reviews and feedback here in Aotearoa New Zealand. Right off the bat, their website was beautifully simple and easy to use, and, most importantly, it answered pretty much every question I had in the first few minutes. Key considerations such as ‘is it the right mattress for me’, ‘is it good quality’ and ‘where or how can I give it a try’ were all addressed head on.
The mattress itself has 3 different layers, and so is adjustable with three different ‘settings’, ranging from medium to ultra firm, meaning that They can say with a fairly curate degree of certainty that yes, for a lot of people it can be set up to be the perfect level of firmness. With regards to quality, they offer an impressive, no-questions-asked, fifteen-year guarantee. Any company that is willing to put its money where its mouth is and back its products for a whole fifteen years is obviously confident in the quality and longevity of their products. Lastly, around trying the mattress, I was initially trying to find a nearby stockist or showroom, but quickly realised that they have no retailers or showrooms, and only offer direct-to-consumer delivery. Whilst this sounds crazy at first, it is actually a stroke of genius, and one of the keystone moments that defined the excellence of the entire experience. They will ship the mattress to you on the same day that you order it, for free. The real icing on the cake though, is that if you are not happy with your mattress, for any reason at all, within the first 100 days, they will give you a 100% refund, no questions asked, and then one of their couriers will collect your mattress and donate it to The Salvation Army.
So let’s just recap: The product has rave reviews online. It has three different firmness settings. It arrives the day you order it. If you happen to be in the seemingly small minority of people who don’t absolutely love it (seriously, check out their reviews) then you get a full refund, and a charity gets an almost new mattress. All of this and it is a fraction of the cost of most other mattresses out there! I was sold. I needed this mattress in my life. Roughly 3 hours after beginning my new mattress voyage, I had arrived at my destination. I would soon be the proud owner of my very own ‘mattress in a box’. Get excited.
As I had ordered at 9pm, the same day delivery service was sadly not a possibility, but the next day, around lunchtime, I received a call from the courier to let me know he would be delivering in a couple of hours, and to check that someone would be at the delivery address, which was a thoughtful touch. He called again a few hours later to let me know he was outside my office. I went out to meet him, and he helped me load the surprisingly small box into my car. Not that I really needed much help, as the box had two sturdy wheels and a suitcase-style pop up handle, making it super simple to move on my own. Another very nice customer-focused touch.
That evening, back at home, and the unboxing was just as simple and fun as the rest of the journey to this point. The literature inside the box was well designed and written with a friendly, fun tone, and the mattress itself was easy enough to remove from the box, and once we removed the plastic outer wrapping, the mattress expanded to its full size queen mattress glory in a matter of minutes.
I’m now a couple of weeks in and after a short acclimatisation period of a few nights, I have had two weeks of the best sleep in my life. This weekend I had twelve hours of sleep in a single night. I think the last time I slept for that long in one go I was still at university. After just a few weeks of sleeping through the night, I feel like a new man. More productive, more creative, more focused, more energised, and way happier.
In my original draft of this piece I intentionally omitted any details of just how good the product was. After all, I was reviewing the customer experience itself, not the product. This isn’t a sponsored or affiliated post, and I didn’t want to dilute my points around just how good the customer experience was, but what I’d written seemed to fall flat, not doing justice to just how good the customer experience was. On reflection, the sheer quality of the product was arguably one of the main contributing factors to the overall customer experience itself.
In the age of design thinking and human centred design, CX has become so fashionable that all too often people focus single-mindedly on the customer journey and experience, almost as a product in their own right. We forget that by far the most important part of any customers experience is your product. A great product can deliver a fantastic customer experience, even in the absence of any consideration of that experience by the product team. Conversely, the best customer service and communications in the world can’t make up for a lousy product. I’d even argue that it is impossible to deliver an exceptional customer experience without an exceptional product.
Ecosa knows this. They knew they had an exceptional product, and they had the balls to back it. Their own self-belief and knowing they had a quality product allowed them to go above and beyond their competitors. It enabled them to develop an entirely new business model, get rid of showrooms and salesmen and invest those savings in things like a 100 day no obligation trial and a fifteen year no-questions-asked money back guarantee. They built a best-in-class customer experience by using their product quality as a solid foundation.
The entire customer journey, from beginning my research to settling down to my first nights sleep on this new wondrous slice of pure comfort, took less than 24 hours. I didn’t have to go to a store, I didn’t have to deal with salespeople, I didn’t have to shell out megabucks, I didn’t have to wait weeks for delivery, and I didn’t have to wrestle a full-size mattress through my house when it finally decided to show up. My experience of buying a mattress wasn’t just better than the standard experience, it was completely different in almost every way.
‘Disruption’ is a word that is thrown around a lot these days, and often without justification, but in this instance, this honestly felt like such a game-changing customer experience; so fundamentally different from the standard mattress purchasing journey that it seems deserved. It seems Ecosa have done their research, and by truly understanding the key customer needs, and removing some of the biggest pain points in the traditional mattress shopping journey, they have managed to create the kind of revolutionary customer experience that makes you wonder how the hell everybody else is getting it so wrong.