In 1980, when Craft-E-Family was founded, we didn’t have much to worry about in terms of turnaround time for our blocks. Mom and dad were getting about 1-2 orders a week. You actually have to work NOT to get a quick turnaround when you’ve got that few orders coming in a week.
Our company started off by doing craft shows. Our ordering system was less than efficient compared to today. All forms were filled out by hand at the craft fair or they were mailed in. As business increased, we were always on the lookout for ways to streamline our processes. We’ve gone from hand varnishing blocks (with endless hand cramps) to finishing with a more natural product – bee’s wax. We’ve made numerous mistakes, we’ve done things the hard way when in reality – the easy way was staring us right in the face. But – we have learned.
As time went on, we streamlined our ordering process as well. The hand written forms trickled in as we released an online ordering form. We weren’t taking credit card payments online, but we tried to make it a little easier on our clients. Instead of having to keep tabs on a physical form, we put a form online. They could fill it out online, print it out and mail it in. To be honest, our eyes needed a little reprieve. Apparently we have a lot of doctors out there ordering blocks! Only kidding, but it did make the process easier on us as well. It was a baby step… we weren’t quite in the age of the Internet then like we are now.
One of my most vivid memories about the business is the day we released our online store – a REAL one, complete with credit card acceptance and everything. Mom, dad, Cory and I were all at a craft show in Rochester, NY. It dawned on us all that the Sundays that were once free of orders were a thing of the past. Forever.
We know that continually improving our products and our processes is important to our customers. GrooveHQ lists “continuous improvement” as one of the top 5 customer service skills and we agree!
We’ve learned to listen to our customers. When we started off, we were turning our blocks around quickly just because we had time. Gradually, we started getting feedback that they loved how quickly they got our blocks. We heard our customers saying that fast service was important to them, so we made sure we kept that at the top of our priority list through the years. As orders increased and demand… well… demanded, we went from lugging bags of baby blocks to the post office to doing computerized shipping from our office. Truth be told, we got kicked out of the post office. Nah. We didn’t, but we could tell that the block shipping was becoming a little too daunting on the USPS guys and gals.
As we got more and more feedback about how much our customers appreciated our quick turnaround, I really began to pay attention to the service I was receiving from other merchants. We are producing custom made items and shipping them out the next day while larger warehouses take a week to pull sneakers off of a shelf, another day to package them – then they finally get them shipped off a week after the order was placed. Our aim is to never be one of those companies.
The longest we have ever taken to ship an order was 3 weeks, but that was due to our travel to China to meet LeeLoo, our daughter. Even then, our customers were more than understanding. They were so supportive. We’ve said many times over that our lifeline is our customers. For them, we will consistently try to improve our processes. There’s always an easier way to do things and we will do our best to work smarter – not harder, so to serve our customers in the most efficient manner possible.