Paula Hayes is on a mission to change the face of beauty by putting multicultural women at the center of the modern beauty movement.
She’s in an industry oriented toward making people feel good about themselves. But she’s tackling an experience within the market that’s left many customers looking for a better and more specific solution.
On The Customer Experience Podcast Paula, the Founder, President, and CEO of Hue Noir Cosmetics, shares insights into what it means to show up authentically, how brand ambassadors help to extend the company’s reach, why she pulled her products from Target shelves, and much more.
In this video clip in which she talks team culture, customer care, brand promise, authenticity, and more, you’ll get an introduction to all the themes she weaves throughout our entire conversation …
Here in this blog post is the full interview, several more video clips, and an overview and highlights from our time together.
Honor Your Customer Promise by Showing Up Authentically Every Day
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I also embed each recording in its companion blog post (like the one you’re reading right now). Click here to see them.
Hear the entire conversation with Paula Hayes right here …
How a Cosmetic Company Stays in Touch With Its Customers
Customer experience at Hue Noir is a multi-pronged approach. They’re available before, during, and after every purchase and work to communicate clearly about products and colors.
They also offer what they call their Hue Guarantee: a no-questions-asked, 45-day guarantee to instill confidence in the buying decision.
From there, as soon as an order is placed, they have a robust personalized communication system on the backend. They strive to get orders out in 48 hours or less. Despite the company’s growth, the team also still employs handwritten notes whenever they can as a personal touch.
Seven days after the customer receives their order, the team follows up and asks for a review. They make it clear that the customer’s feedback helps other people make buying decisions.
Watch this video clip to hear Paul describe their approach to customer communication …
Hue Noir also do everything from social media to product activations with customers in mind. Paula used to go to any event she could. Now, because she can’t go to every event, they’ve developed a robust brand ambassador program so that people connected to the organization can represent them in different cities.
Those product activations are critical for the brand. While some people will buy products “sight unseen,” it’s extremely difficult to gain that trust in the makeup space without handing out the product in person.
Which makes a brand ambassador program that much more important.
Brand Ambassadors and the Customer Promise
Because it’s so important to the customer experience, onboarding a brand ambassador for Hue Noir is very similar to hiring and onboarding a direct employee.
Ambassadors are truly friends of the brand and typically start with some sort of engaged relationship with the company. They may be followers on social media or people who show up at events across the country. Some have reached out themselves to express an interest in getting involved with the brand.
Paula knew they needed to expand their reach and because they’d consistenly been showing up authentically with their customers, many of them were raising their hand asking to help them do it. It took a while to make sure there was an appropriate vetting and onboarding process to the ambassadors as confident as they needed to be representing the brand, but it was well worth the effort.
The Hue Noir team always follows up about the experience after events to see how ambassadors felt it went. They try to strengthen the relationship at other times through create-your-own-look contests and giveaways—so the ambassadorship is natural.
“Customers don’t necessarily understand the difference between someone who’s part of the team or a friend of the team if that friend is telling the story well,” Paula said.
All they know is they’ve engaged with the brand, and they hopefully walk away with more confidence in it.
Here are Paula’s thoughts on a brand ambassador program and its benefits to your company and your customers …
The Difference Between Growing and Scaling
As someone who’s grown her business from a one-woman operation in her garage into a team of employees and ambassadors with customers across the country, Paula knows the difference between growing and scaling.
Growth involves adding resources. You add resources and you grow. Then, you repeat that cycle.
Scaling in more about maximizing your people, operations, and experience.
What’s the same between both, however, is that they must be first and foremost customer oriented. You have to solve a problem for people in a unique and differentiated way.
Here’s Paula’s quick take on growing and on scaling while putting your customers’ needs top of mind …
Why Hue Noir Pulled Their Products From Target
A little over a year ago, Hue Noir joined a program at Target called “The Emerging Beauty Project.” Target took eight companies offering cosmetics products for women of color. It was in 100 stores: no small market.
Paula was naturally excited for the opportunity. But very quickly she noticed a key element of the customer experience that was missing. It was related to the foundation (the base layer of makeup) they sold. As she watched comments, Paula noticed that a lot of women were walking in the store, looking at the product, and walking away empty handed. She also started to hear from Target that they weren’t seeing the sales volume they were looking for.
At the same time, she saw that sample requests on their website increased by over 1300%. It wasn’t a coincidence: when they dug into the numbers, about 65% were people who had physically gone into a Target store. The others were people discovering the brand through the Target launch or elsewhere.
So, the customer journey looked like this:
- The person discovered Hue Noir was in Target one way or another.
- They walked into the store.
- They looked at the display and couldn’t make a decision.
- They weren’t just going to buy a few to see what worked.
- So they went all the way home, requested samples, waited for the request to be processed, and received the samples.
- Then they made a purchasing decision.
The question was, “Do we really expect them to go back to the store at that point?”
Realistically, the answer was no. So Hue Noir and Target parted ways amicably.
Blending Tech and Humans for a Personalized and Truly Personal Experience
At the end of every episode, I give each guest the opportunity to thank or mention a person who’s had a positive impact on her or his life or career and a company that’s doing customer experience the right way.
Be sure to listen through the conclusion of each episode, because the responses tend to be thoughtful and inspiring.
In this video clip, hear Paula describe a company that’s blending technology and people to create and deliver great experiences for their customers …
Click here to learn more about the company she mentions.
Take this show with you wherever you go by subscribing to The Customer Experience Podcast.
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More from The Customer Experience Podcast
- “Why Customer Experience Is The Only Differentiator Left” with David Cancel (founder and CEO, Drift)
- “Balancing Automation, AI, and Human Relationships” with Samantha Stone (founder and CMO, Marketing Advisory Network)
- “You Have 100 Days to Create or Lose a Lifelong Customer” with Joey Coleman (author, Never Lose a Customer Again)
- See them all by clicking here
- Chief Education Evangelist Jaime Casap (Google)
- Venture investor and startup advisor Dave Knox (Predicting The Turn)
- Marketing leader and brand strategist Kristy Krueger (Revel Health)
If you’ve got a podcast question or guest recommendation, please email me: Ethan at BombBomb dot com
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