A CustomMade Employee’s First Experience as a Custom(er)
This article was written by Heather Bailey, team member and all around good person on our Maker Success Team.
It was Monday morning when I was struck by an unexpected revelation. I’ve been an employee at CustomMade for nearly three months. I’ve spent my days talking to makers, giving them tips for interacting with customers, yet I have NEVER once been a customer myself. Here I am, educating others about the process of working on the site, yet I myself have not gone through the process. Clearly, this needed to change.
Now, if I was going to do this properly, I needed to completely step out of an employee’s shoes and into the shoes of a potential customer coming onto the site for the first time. That certainly wasn’t going to happen while I was surrounded by my CustomMade co-workers. Thankfully, laptops are portable and Starbucks has free Wi-Fi.
As I venture onto the homepage as a customer, I’m immediately asked, “what do you want custom made?” Yeah, good question. What do I want custom made? Something small and decorative, yet functional. I type in “glass” and I’m directed to an impressive gallery to browse through. About halfway down the page is a brown ceramic shot glass shaped like a pig and, truth be told, I’m a sucker for pretty much anything shaped like a pig. Clearly, I must have something like this. After viewing the maker of the pig shot glass Sara E. Lynch’s portfolio, I’m able to really get a feel of her style and easily understand her esthetic. It’s pretty clear what she’s capable of making. She also has seven creation stories that help me grasp her creative process. By working with Sara, I’m confident I’m going to get a product that is whimsical and creative, which is exactly what I’m looking for. She already has one great review from another customer so I feel good about working with her overall. I click the big yellow “work with me” button and begin a conversation with her. I explain that I love her pig shot glass and I would like two or three shot glasses of different farm animals. And the Boozy Barnyard project is born.
Over the course of the next few days, Sara and I communicated back and forth (the entire time she had no idea I was actually an employee of CustomMade and she was treating me as she would any customer). After sending her my initial request, she responded within a couple of hours. I was impressed not only with her speed of response, but her message to me as well. She thanked me right off the bat for choosing her to make the shot glasses, she went on to tell me a little about herself and why she loves making them. Through our entire messaging, I felt she was friendly, approachable, and even though my project was small, she made me feel like it was important.
Now, I know very little about the crafting process for these shot glasses — or any ceramics project for that matter. In fact, the majority of the customers who come to the site aren’t familiar with the ins and outs of what they’re asking for, so realistically I fit right in. I asked her a few questions about color, how bright can colors be? Can I choose primary colors or will pastels be the only option? Sara answered kindly. She displayed great patience for my basic questions with an assurance that, no matter how uninformed my questions where, they were important to me as her potential customer deciding whether or not to persue the project. By the time she made a proposal, I felt confident moving forward with Sara, someone I’d met over the Internet, and I happily accepted.
When dealing with someone online, it’s paramount for a maker to develop trust with the customer immediately. When a customer comes onto the site and posts a public project, they receive expressions of interest from makers who want to work with them. The customer then has the opportunity to choose their maker. In communicating with Sara, she has a great way of making you want to work with her. After only a few interactions with her, I knew there was no other choice but Sara.
And she does custom paintings too!
Creating this project with her was a learning experience for me in many ways. I have a new understanding of the customer side of things here and can impart this knowledge on new makers to help them as well. For now, I’ll just sit back and wait for my brilliant shot glasses to come to life in a new creation story.
Click the link below and follow the creation story: