'S**t like this does happen': Fashion queen’s brutal video
THE founder of popular online fashion retailer ShowPo has been praised for a brutally honest video in which she revealed how the business "f-ed up", resulting in a customer service nightmare.
Jane Lu said she was sharing the video because "most businesses always talk about how well they were doing", but she wanted to show the highs and lows of running a small business. "Running a business isn't easy and we know we're far from perfect," Ms Lu said.
She revealed how ShowPo, which has 2.5 million social media followers and an annual revenue of more than $30 million, had gone through a "few mini crises" in late April that had "snowballed into a much bigger problem".
"So for example, over the sale period we didn't resource adequately enough in terms of staffing, we had a glitch with our coupon code during the Easter sale period, and we had some issues with our warehouse getting orders out on time and with processing returns," Ms Lu said.
"As a business owner I'm super-embarrassed about all of this. When things like this happen we try to be proactive and we emailed all of our customers to let them know, but then of course this saw our email volumes double.
"Then more issues hit, our website went down, then because our sales volumes kept growing our incoming ticket volumes kept growing as well. Then we also had delays with our shipping. We usually like to respond to emails within the hour, but because there were so many it was taking up to days."
When ShowPo had to switch off its live chat to focus on the emails, they started "getting emails about where are the emails, then more emails about where was the live chat".
The delays and lack of response saw many angry customers bombard ShowPo's Facebook and Instagram with complaints, with one slamming the "inconvenient and unprofessional" treatment. Ms Lu said it was "embarrassing and disheartening" to read the complaints.
"This is the biggest rut that ShowPo has been in in a long time," she said.
Ms Lu said she was making the video to apologise to customers and promise it would never happen again, and to tell other small business owners that "s**t like this does happen, and so often when it rains it pours".
To dig itself out of the hole, Ms Lu said all of ShowPo's nearly 35 staff, regardless of their role, were trained in customer service and started answering emails. "So if you got a funny email, then it was probably Jimmy our developer answering a question about a dress," she said.
"Sometimes crisis mode makes you have to innovate and better yourself, so we have some amazing new technology launching to improve our tracking system."
Ms Lu said failure to recognise the enormity of the issues was at the core of the fall out, and that had the resourcing issue been addressed earlier, the impact wouldn't have been as severe.
The video, which has been viewed more than 130,000 times across Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn, has attracted praise from customers and fellow entrepreneurs.
"Raw. Honest. Authentic. Like all good responses on social media should be in times of crisis. People forgive flaws as long as you acknowledge them and commit to doing better which you've done," one commenter on LinkedIn said.
In a statement, Ms Lu said the response had been "overwhelmingly positive".
"I felt it was critical that we created a little more transparency in the industry for both our customers and other businesses, things can really fall into a heap every now and then and I didn't feel it was right to hide away from that," she said.