Taylor & Hart is a London-based luxury online engagement and wedding ring retailer specializing in customized rings. Their approach is very high touch and each customer is looked after by their own personal design consultant.

Nikolay Piriankov, Co-Founder and CEO, tells us about their journey so far and how tracking metrics have played a key part in their growth.

You did Boston Techstars last year. Tell us about that and what you learned along the way.

We’d been trading in the UK since 2011 selling pre-designed rings as well as bespoke and wanted to expand to the US, having found a big gap in the market there – 45% of ring sales are customized pieces.

We got into Boston Techstars 2016, which is an annual mentorship-driven accelerator program and was an excellent way for us to get into the US market through warm intros to mentors, partners and investors.

In the very first week of the program, we were told we’d need to come up with The One Metric That Matters (OMTM) and already in week two, a giant screen had been installed in the office, displaying all the Techstar teams’ most important metrics for everyone to see.

We quickly realized the value of having a live TV dashboard because a few weeks into the program, our metrics dipped and we noticed immediately and could take appropriate action. Because our whole team could see the dashboard, they all cared and felt collectively accountable for the metrics.

What was your most important metric at that time in your growth and how did you choose it?

We started working on executing strategies that would grow our US inquiries and sales.

In the UK, 20% of our inquiries were converting into sales. Having just entered the US market, the conversion rate there was only 5% because we hadn’t yet tailored the buyer experience to the US shopper, nor did we have a physical presence there for our consultations, which is an important aspect of our custom design experience.

So for those reasons, we decided our OMTM would be US Conversion Rate and the whole team would work to improve US inquiries and sales.

Did any other light bulbs go off while you were doing Techstars?

Yes. We realized the sales approach for our industry is very much about being a ‘hunter’ and closing sales fast. But the service we wanted to offer was actually more of a ‘farmer’ – someone who nurtures relationships, looks after customers and gives them exactly what they want.

As an e-commerce business with a high-touch bespoke product, the customer experience is as important as sales volume and revenue. But it’s a very soft metric, so how would you measure it?

During Techstars, I came across Net Promoter Score (NPS), a way of measuring how many brand ambassadors you have, that is, how likely your customers are to recommend you. This was perfect for us since knowing that number would say a lot about our product and customer service.

We also learned that one of our competitors got 30% of their business from referrals. Taylor & Hart was at 15% so it was something to aim for. This became our next OMTM and we came up with a clever system to display this on our TV dashboard.

Because we have a long lead time, we ask our customers how likely they are to refer us both straight after a purchase and again upon receipt of the product. The former shows that the sales team is doing a good job and the latter that production delivers on the promise we make to the customer.

What happened when you broadcast these key metrics to the team?

First, there were a lot of questions so we held meetings to thoroughly explain NPS to everyone so they would start putting it front of mind in their day-to-day. It took a while to get the team used to it but now everyone is completely aligned.

What results did you see?

Our NPS score started at 74. Our goal was to be at 80. We’re now scoring 80 for service and 84 for our product. The sales people actually worry if they have too many leads because their NPS score will be affected if the level of service suffers.

Without measuring NPS and making it the OMTM, we would have never known the importance of the customer experience. Making the customer experience into a quantitative metric really helped us understand the power of NPS.

Overall, thanks to NPS and a combination of other things, we’ve increased our monthly revenue by 70%. We’re hoping to get our referral rate to that magical 30%.

NPS has now become a health metric for us and we aim to always keep it above 80.

For the next stage of growth at Taylor & Hart, what metrics will matter?

Conversion Rate is going to be the next big metric for us – specifically New Customer Conversion Rate over a typical customer enquiry-to-sale cohort of 90 days. We are tracking what percentage of customers bought in the first 30, 60 and 90 days because we’ve learned that the vast majority of our customers will purchase in this time frame, though we have had year long journeys as some customers really like to plan for this purchase.

The current distribution is 60% conversion in the first month, 25% in the second month and only 15% in the third month.

The team is already tracking this with the help of several TV dashboards that feed live data from Salesforce and Google Sheets.

Improving conversion rate, while maintaining a high NPS, is our goal. This way we align a short term goal like conversion rate with a long-term goal of having a high return and referral rate – two critical components for our vision to scale in the long term.

How do you effectively scale a high-touch business model like yours?

The efficiency of our sales team is always growing, which means their cost reduces while conversion rate increases. Blending in marketing and salary costs, it should show better Customer Acquisition Cost even though it’s a high touch model. This is because, for what we’re selling, most people do not want a touchless e-commerce offering.

Some customers will invest the time to become diamond experts on their own but most just want to be recommended great options around their ring design and price point and when it comes to diamonds, it’s best an expert helps with that decision.

Add to that our focus on NPS. At the end of each customer’s journey, we deliver what we call ‘customer delight’, which is a series of emails talking about how their ring was made, videos of the manufacturing process and so on. At this stage, they are very engaged and so more likely to become brand ambassadors. We are very serious about wanting to get to that 30% referral rate.

It all comes back to the idea of being farmers instead of hunters. We aim to nurture customers to the point where we over-deliver on our promise, leaving the customer delighted and confident in recommending us.

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