May 26, 2010, 2:07 PM

E-retailer Igigi’s Facebook presence cuts down its customer service calls

By dedicating one customer service representative to respond to customer service-related issues on Facebook, plus-size women’s apparel retailer Igigi has cut down on its customer service calls.

Plus-size women’s apparel retailer Igigi launched its Facebook presence last August as an inexpensive marketing platform that would allow it to interact with customers. “We wanted to learn more about our customers and what they want,” says Yuliya Raquel, Igigi founder and lead designer. “We’re a customer-centric company and want to deliver the products our customers want.”

After noticing a number of customers were turning to Facebook to ask customer service questions, such as how a particular garment fits, the retailer realized that its presence had an ancillary benefit—Facebook is a more efficient customer service channel than either phone or e-mail. Within a few months the retailer began dedicating one customer service representative to monitor Facebook twice a day to respond to customer service-related issues.

“We want to show customers that we are there for them,” says Raquel. “We can answer questions about the fit of a particular dress or whether we’ll carry a particular item or anything else.”

While Igigi’s traffic and sales have grown significantly year over year, its customer service calls and e-mails have not—and that’s because of Facebook providing a forum for many of those answers, she says. Since the dialogue is public, the answer one customer receives can help avert another customer posing the same question. For instance, when one customer asked if a particular wedding dress that was out of stock would be restocked, an Igigi customer service representative noted that it announces any re-stocking or new arrivals on Facebook.

Igigi’s use of social media to help augment, rather than replace, its customer service is an ideal customer service model, says Rick Mathieson, author of “The On-Demand Brand: 10 Rules for Digital Marketing Success in an Anytime, Everywhere World.” “Social media provides a way for retailers to interact with folks and react to folks as needed,” he says. “It’s not a substitute for in-store or phone-based customer service but it can be a powerful tool in a retailer’s arsenal.”

Igigi also uses Facebook to pose questions to consumers about what types of pleats, cuts or eveningwear they’d like Igigi to offer. In doing so, the retailer’s Facebook page serves as a virtual focus group, says Raquel. For instance, the retailer found several customers suggest Igigi sell jewelry, since plus-size women often have larger wrists and necks, which can make it difficult to find jewelry that fits. That feedback led Igigi to release a jewelry line that has steadily sold, says Raquel.

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